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Token on the Freedman’s Coat: The Story behind Thomas Mundy Peterson’s 1884 Voting Medal
Thursday, February 10, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
On May 30, 1884, citizens of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, pinned a gold medal to Thomas Mundy Peterson’s coat in honor of his having done something that, in another part of the nation, a noose might have been put around his neck for daring.
It had been proven that on March 31, 1870 Peterson was the first African American to vote under the Fifteenth Amendment. Ever since, the story of his historic vote has been told in terms of how unusually progressive Perth Amboy’s white community had been, having both encouraged and celebrated his suffrage as a matter of civic pride. Yet, in the process, Peterson himself became a prop in his own story. The event that lifted his name out of obscurity had ironically obscured him as a person.
“Token on the Freedman’s Coat” not only gives the background of this extraordinary event, but places it in a broader historical context that both underscores its significance and puts Peterson’s vote in a new and more complex light. This talk is based on historian Gordon Bond’s latest book, To Cast a Freedman’s Vote: Thomas Mundy Peterson at the Intersection of Suffrage, Citizenship and Civil Rights.
Please register for this virtual program.
Gordon Bond is an independent historian, author, and lecturer. He is the founder and ePublisher of www.GardenStateLegacy.com, a website dedicated to resources for New Jersey history. He is the author of six books focusing on aspects of New Jersey history and has written a large number of articles and reviews for Garden State Legacy. He is a native of New Jersey living with his wife and cat in Newark’s historic Forest Hill neighborhood.