“A Peculiar Imbalance “is the little-known history of the black experience in Minnesota in the mid-1800s| a time of dramatic change in the region. William D. Green explains how| as white progressive politicians pushed for statehood| black men who had been integrated members of the community| owning businesses and maintaining good relationships with their neighbors| found themselves denied the right to vote or to run for office in those same communities.
As Minnesota was transformed from a wilderness territory to a state| the concepts of race and ethnicity and the distinctions among them made by Anglo-Americans grew more rigid and arbitrary. A black man might enjoy economic success and a middle-class lifestyle but was not considered a citizen under the law. In contrast| an Irish Catholic man was able to vote–as could a mixed-blood Indian–but might find himself struggling to build a business because of the ethnic and religious prejudices of the Anglo-American community. “A Peculiar Imbalance” examines these disparities| reflecting on the political| social| and legal experiences of black men from 1837 to 1869| the year of black suffrage.