Text    Click for small text size. Click for medium text size. Click for large text size.         Click to share this page.     Click to print the page.   GO »

Event Details

< Return to Event Calendar

Remembering the Raisin: Slavery, Freedom, and the War of 1812


July 12, 2014

River Raisin National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

River Raisin National Battlefield Park was established in 2009 to commemorate an important Northwest Territory battle of the War of 1812. The "Remembering the Raisin: Slavery, Freedom and the War of 1812" event will explore the largely "untold story" of freedom seeking during the War of 1812 through presentations by Dr. Gene Allen Smith and Nicholas Brown.

Dr. Gene Allen Smith is Professor of History at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. During the 2013-14 academic-year he served as the "Class of 1957 Distinguished Chair in Naval Heritage" at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is author or editor of eight books, and numerous articles and reviews on the War of 1812, naval and maritime history, and territorial expansion along the Gulf of Mexico. His most recent book, The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 (2013), is considered a seminal work on the role of people of African descent in the War of 1812.

Nicholas Brown received his undergraduate degree in History from the University of Toledo and is now continuing his studies as a first year graduate student studying African American History. Nicholas' thesis research project is on the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) an African American labor union established in the 1920s. As a summer of 2014 University of Toledo Graduate Intern with the National Park, Nicholas is researching African-American involvement in the War of 1812 in the Northwest Territories in partnership with the National Park Service at River Raisin National Battlefield Park. His internship has been made possible through a generous grant from the National Park Foundation's Park Stewards Program.

Nicholas is originally from Dayton, Ohio and has lived in Toledo for the past five years.

This event is being sponsored by River Raisin National Battlefield, River Raisin National Battlefield Foundation, and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.


1:00 p.m.     The Slaves Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812-Dr. Gene Allen Smith

Charles Ball, Ned Simmons, and Jordan Noble are not house-hold names or well-known heroes of the War of 1812.Yet all three faced important choices about which side to support during the conflict.By following the lives of these three enslaved men, we learn about the daily struggle all enslaved faced, the choices they made, and the way the young United States responded to the possibility of social and racial unrest.The notion that participation of the enslaved could sway military operations and potentially alter the outcome of the War of 1812 troubled white Americans, and the way the young republic responded ultimately sealed the fate of the enslaved for the next half century, until the American Civil War.


2:30 p.m.     African-American Involvement in the War of 1812: Free and Slave in the Northwest Territories Nicholas Brown,

Graduate Intern from the University of Toledo

Explore the multifaceted roles African-American's played during the War of 1812 in the Northwest Territories including both free and slave.The program will present intriguing stores of African-Americans supporting war efforts in Kentucky, choosing sides, and their direct involvement in the War of 1812 in the Northwest Territories, Michigan Territory, Detroit and the Battles of the River Raisin.

4:00 p.m.     The First Underground Railroad: Finding Freedom in the old American Northwest- Dr. Gene Allen Smith

Images of the Underground Railroad generally portray the northern flight of the enslaved to freedom in Canada.Yet the first Underground Railroad was not a northern trek, but rather a southern trek to the freedom of the old American Northwest Territory.Once the British turned over Detroit to the United States, during the summer of 1796, the enslaved began to flee across the Detroit River from Canada to the freedom of the United States.In fact, from 1796 to 1815 the route to freedom led south.Yet by the end of the War of 1812, Detroit slave Peter Denison was on the vanguard of a new movement leading enslaved people from America north to Canada—the traditional Underground Railroad that we celebrate as an avenue of freedom.The War of 1812 gave birth to the Underground Railroad.

5:30 p.m.     Book Signing- Dr. Gene Allen Smith

The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.


River Raisin National Battlefield
1403 East Elm Ave.
Monroe, MI 48162

River Raisin National Battlefield is located in Southeastern Lower Michigan along the western shoreline of Lake Erie, in the city of Monroe. Park headquarters is 35 miles south of Detroit.


Take Interstate 75 to exit 15 and go south on Dixie Highway to Elm Ave. make a left on Elm and the Visitor Center will be on the left hand side.

Ticket to Ride

As part of the National Park Foundation's Ticket to Ride Program, there will be limited transportation available (2 passenger buses, each accommodating 55 passengers), free of charge, to visit the park and attend the event. There are two pick-up/drop-off locations (First Congregational Church  and Kemeny Recreation Center-both located in Detroit). Reservations are required for transportation to the event. For reservations, please call: 734.243.7136. Click here, for more information. Youth highly encouraged to participate!

     Small Arrowhead     River Raisin National Battlefield Foundation         Network to Freedom Logo

Contact Person: River Raisin National Battlefield Park

Contact Information: 734.243.7136 (main phone)