After granting territorial status to Oregon, Congress followed up on September 27, 1850, by enacting the Donation Land Act that offered free land in Oregon to white settlers and so-called "half-breeds," persons with mixed blood and at least 50 percent white. It excluded blacks, Hawaiians, Native Americans, and Asians.
-- Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory by R. Gregory Nokes.
In his new book, Breaking Chains, former journalist Gregory Nokes uses the 1853 civil trial of a former slave against his Oregon owner as the frame for a broader look at slavery and racism in the American West. As the above passage shows, racism was built into the framework of the Oregon Territory. Nokes examines how that legacy played out in Pacific Northwest history.
Nokes is a former journalist and the author of Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon (reviewed here), the highly readable account of 34 Chinese gold miners murdered in Hell's Canyon in1887. There is a new documentary, also called Massacred for Gold, based on the book (watch the trailer here).
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