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America's First Freedom Rider: Elizabeth Jennings, Chester A. Arthur, and the Early Fight for Civil Rights (Paperback)

America's First Freedom Rider: Elizabeth Jennings, Chester A. Arthur, and the Early Fight for Civil Rights By Jerry Mikorenda Cover Image


In 1854, traveling was full of danger. Omnibus accidents were commonplace. Pedestrians were regularly attacked by the Five Points' gangs. Rival police forces watched and argued over who should help. Pickpockets, drunks, and kidnappers were all part of the daily street scene in old New York.

None of this was on Elizabeth Jennings's mind as she climbed the platform onto the Chatham Street horsecar. But her destination and that of the country took a sudden turn when the conductor told her to wait for the next car because it had "her people" in it. When she refused to step off the bus, she was assaulted by the conductor who was aided by a NY police officer. On February 22, 1855, Elizabeth Jennings v. Third Avenue Rail Road case was settled. Seeking $500 in damages, the jury stunned the courtroom with a $250 verdict in Lizzie's favor. Future US president Chester A. Arthur was Jennings attorney and their lives would be forever onward intertwined.

This is the story of what happened that day. It's also the story of Jennings and Arthur's families, the struggle for equality, and race relations. It's the history of America at its most despicable and most exhilarating. Yet few historians know of Elizabeth Jennings or the impact she had on desegregating public transit.

About the Author

Jerry Mikorenda's articles and op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, The Boston Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, and Wall Street Journal as well as various other magazines. He is also a graduate of the Master's Program at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School. A member of SCBWI and BIO (Biographers International Organization), his history profiles are included in the 2010 Encyclopedia of New York City and on the Gotham Center's History Blog. He lives in Northport, NY.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781493059423
ISBN-10: 1493059424
Publisher: Lyons Press
Publication Date: November 1st, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English

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