Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Race Horse Men: Slavery and Freedom at the Nineteenth-Century Racetrack
by Mooney, Katherine Carmines, Ph.D., Yale University, 2012, 463; 3525375
Abstract (Summary)

Race Horse Men posits that Thoroughbreds occupied a central and hitherto unexamined place in the lives of a large community of white, wealthy men in the nineteenth-century United States. This project explores the close relationship of their equestrian lives to their more extensively studied political and economic convictions. At the antebellum racetrack, Southerners honed their vision of a nation committed to progress and economic development and respectful of the integral place of slavery in American life. After the Civil War, racing helped to reunify Northern and Southern elites as they shaped a nation where white Southerners participated as junior partners in the industrial economy and policed the lives of African Americans without Northern interference. The project is thus a cultural history of one of the primary places in which Americans debated the role of the South in the United States.

At the same time, Race Horse Men follows the careers of black horsemen, who were vital to the success of American racing. The project traces the lives of enslaved horsemen and their complicated form of bondage, often stunningly different from that of their fellow slaves. After the Civil War, those men and the next generation continued their work with horses. The postbellum racetrack became a racially integrated workplace in which whites and blacks competed on equal terms and blacks consistently emerged victorious. The political and social significance of such competition, this study argues, seemed too dangerous to white men, who drove black horsemen from the racetrack early in the twentieth century. Race Horse Men thus chronicles the efforts of black men to use their unique form of labor to make fulfilling lives for themselves in bondage and in freedom. Simultaneously, it examines the various tools, in particular strategies of narrative creation, with which white men sought to neutralize the potential danger such men posed to racial order.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Blight, David W.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Black history, American history
Keywords: Horsemen, Jim Crow, Jockeys, Racial narratives, Slavery, Whigs
Publication Number: 3525375
ISBN: 978-1-267-57405-3
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