News and Events: Archive:

Panel discussion on "NJ African Americans & the Civil War," Mon Jan. 28th, 3-5 pm

Regimental Flag, United States Twenty-second Colored Troops, Library of Congress

Special Collections and University Archives is delighted to present a special panel presentation on "New Jersey African Americans and the Civil War," on Monday, January 28th. The panel discussion will be held from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Remigio U. Pane Room on the first floor of the Archibald S. Alexander Library in New Brunswick. The panel features Joseph G. Bilby of the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum, Larry A. Greene of Seton Hall University, and Professor Clement A. Price of Rutgers University.

A large and vibrant African-American community lived in New Jersey before the Civil War —approximately 4% of the state population. Years after the abolition of slavery, African Americans still lacked legal and political rights, and many faced poverty, job discrimination, and racism. During the tense period leading up to the Civil War, African-American community leaders emerged to play important roles in the abolition movement and the Underground Railroad. During the war, New Jersey's African Americans welcomed the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. The overall reaction to the proclamation in New Jersey was mixed, however, with many in the dominant Democratic party condemning it as an infringement on property and states' rights. Following the proclamation, many New Jersey African Americans enlisted in the Union army. Although New Jersey did not give its name to any black regiments, it can be estimated that a few thousand African Americans from New Jersey served with the U.S. Colored Troops, in regiments from other states, or in the US Navy.

These topics and many others will be explored by our distinguished panel. Clement Price is the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History and the director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University, Newark. He is the author of Freedom Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey (1980), and many other scholarly works. Larry A. Greene, professor of history at Seton Hall University, specializes in the study of the Civil War, African-American history, and the history of the South. He is the author "The Emancipation Proclamation in New Jersey and the Paranoid Style," New Jersey History (1973) and most recently, "New Jersey During the Civil War and Reconstruction," in the Anthology of New Jersey History, just published by the Rutgers University Press. Joseph G. Bilby is a free lance writer and historical consultant. He is the author of numerous books and articles about New Jersey history, including Freedom to All (2011), his latest book on the experience of New Jersey's African-American soldiers. Joe Bilby is a member and publications editor of New Jersey's official Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee. The panel will be moderated by Kenneth Cleary of the Historical Society of Haddonfield.

This presentation is one of a series of programs highlighting the Special Collections and University Archives exhibition, "Struggle Without End: New Jersey and the Civil War." For more information or assistance with parking, please contact Fernanda H. Perrone, exhibitions coordinator, at 848-932-6154 or

This exhibition and public programs are made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in these presentations do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

 New Jersey Council  for  the  Humanities
New Jersey Council for the Humanities

Posted October 23, 2012, Updated January 9, 2013; January 25, 2013