Joan E. Cashin is a professor of history at Ohio State University, specializing in social, economic, and cultural history from the Revolution through the Civil War. She is the author of A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier (1991); First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War (2006), winner of the Fletcher Pratt Award from the Civil War Roundtable of New York; and War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War (2018), winner of the Best Book Award from the Ohio Academy of History. She is also the editor of War Matters: Material Culture in the Civil War Era (2018); The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War (2002); Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (1996); and Clotel, or the President's Daughter (1996), a novel by Williams Wells Brown.
What we now call the Midwest was known before 1861 as the Old Northwest. Thomas Jefferson banned slavery from this region with the Northwest Ordinance, so these states had always been free. As such, the region was a magnet for runaway slaves, especially from the Upper South. Some of them remained in the region, while others moved on to Canada. The region also witnessed some dramatic conflicts between slavecatchers and fugitives, who were assisted by sympathetic blacks and whites. The Midwest played an important part in the history of emancipation.