Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Detroit Frontier Underground Railroad


African/African-American Studies


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date Range



The gradual enforcement of an international US-Canadian boundary hastened the end of frontier politics based on fluctuating Indian alliances and shifting geo-political boundaries in the Detroit River region. Geopolitical features characteristic of frontiers, interpreted more recently as borderlands include autonomous indigenous (Native) populations, encroaching settler populations, intercultural adaptation and intermarriage, oscillating political loyalties, fluid boundaries, malleable racial, ethnic and political identities, and flexible social hierarchy--precisely a zone of contested space and meanings. Like Native tribes and French and British settlers in the Detroit River region, at the turn of the nineteenth century blacks in the region also had to negotiate political identities, loyalties and boundaries. The actions of one Detroit slave, Peter Denison, and slave owner, Catherine Tucker, who inherited the Denison family, demonstrate how strategic borderland negotiations were also exercised between slave and master in the waning moments of slavey on the Detroit frontier.

Conference Name

Annual American Historical Association

Conference Location

Chicago, IL

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