Full Text

Chapter Nineteen. African American Entrepreneurship in Slavery and Freedom

Anne R. Hornsby

Subject Business and Management » Entrepreneurship
Race and Ethnicity Studies » African American Studies

Key-Topics freedom, slavery

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230663.2004.00021.x


African American participation in American business and commerce began in the colonial period with a few free black-owned enterprises in major cities of the North and black artisans and craftsmen in the South. Paul Cuffe in Massachusetts was a shipbuilder and trader; James Forten of Pennsylvania became a wealthy shipbuilder in Philadelphia; and Frank McWorter (“Free Frank”) manufactured saltpeter on the Kentucky frontier and operated several enterprises in Chicago. Despite the fact that black businesses-such as barber shops, and other service institutions like banks and insurance companies-expanded in the post-emancipation era, the number and type of African-American-owned businesses remained small until recent times. Furthermore, individual proprietorships, the type of business in which blacks were principally engaged, had a short life-span ( Hine, Hine, and Harrold 2000 ; Higgs 1976 ; Hornsby 1980 ; Walker 1983 ). Most of the early scholarly studies of black entrepreneurship deplored the paucity of such enterprises and sought to understand the factors behind this. W. E. B. Du Bois published one of the first, major scholarly studies in 1899. In The Negro in Business , he made distinctions among black businesses along caste and class lines. He claimed that black bondspersons who had been house servants, field hands, or semi-skilled workers, became barbers, gardeners, and builders, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top