Bowdoin College Scholar Explores the Issue of Slavery in Relation to the State of Maine

In 2020, the State of Maine will celebrate its 200th anniversary. Maine was originally a part of Massachusetts, but when Missouri joined the country as a slave-state, Congress agreed to create the new free state of Maine so the number of slave-states and free-states was equal.

Brian Purnell, an associate professor of history and Africana studies at Bowdoin College in Maine, believes that even though Maine’s statehood kept the balance between slave-states and free-states, it strengthened slavery elsewhere. Dr. Purnell suggests that during the state’s bicentennial celebrations, Maine should honor the five Maine Congressmen who voted against statehood and the Missouri Compromise. According to Purnell, these congressmen, “knew that freedom that promoted slavery was not freedom at all, and not worth the price. In commemorating them, we can build the courage to follow their lead on current issues of consequence.”

Dr. Purnell is a graduate of Fordham University where he double majored in history and African and African American studies. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. both in history from New York University. He is the author of Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn (University Press of Kentucky, 2013).

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs