Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Julie Winch

Second Advisor

Roberta Wollons

Third Advisor

Maria John


Riot and Resurgence traces the development of Providence, Rhode Island’s African American community from the end of slavery in the 1780s through the incidents of white mob violence in 1824 and 1831, and finally to the ways in which the community was able to use the white mob violence in the “Dorr Rebellion” in order to regain the right to vote for the state’s African American people. Touching on the intersectional themes of politics, culture, and work, this thesis aims to situate Providence into the national narrative of race in Revolutionary and Jacksonian America. Providence was not immune to legal and extralegal crackdowns on black freedom as Revolutionary rhetoric on liberty and rights gave way to cultural and class conflict, but its black leaders and everyday laborers like William J. Brown were able to absorb the blows delivered by working class whites and capitalize on this tumultuous time, forcing Rhode Island to become the only state in the Antebellum era to re-enfranchise black voters after previously disenfranchising them.


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