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Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

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Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer

Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

Seth Mallios

340 pages, 67 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-347-9 $149.00/£110.00 / Hb / Published (November 2019)

ISBN  978-1-78920-430-8 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (November 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-348-6 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $29.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This is a thoughtful, well-written manuscript addressing a multitude of questions relevant to historical archaeologists as well as to others interested in constructions of the past. It is also a manuscript with an important social justice angle; revealing the double consciousness DuBois speaks about in its outline of the life of Nathaniel Harrison – I think this is the most powerful aspect of all the data, photographic, documentary, archaeological. In many ways, it is a quintessential American story because of the fact that slavery was the American story.” • Julia A. King, St. Mary’s College of Maryland


Spectacular recent discoveries from the Nathan Harrison cabin site offer new insights and perspectives into the life of this former slave and legendary California homesteader.

“In many ways, it is a quintessential American story because of the fact that slavery was the American story.”—Julia A. King, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Few people in the history of the United States embody ideals of the American Dream more than Nathan Harrison. His is a story with prominent themes of overcoming staggering obstacles, forging something-from-nothing, and evincing gritty perseverance. In a lifetime of hard-won progress, Harrison survived the horrors of slavery in the Antebellum South, endured the mania of the California Gold Rush, and prospered in the rugged chaos of the Wild West.

From the introduction:
According to dozens of accounts, Harrison would routinely greet visitors to his remote Southern California hillside property with the introductory quip, “I’m N——r Nate, the first white man on the mountain.” This is by far the most common direct quote in all of the extensive Harrison lore. If it is possible to get past current-day shock and outrage over the inflammatory racial epithet, one can begin to contextualize and appreciate the ironic humor, ethnic insight, and dualistically crafted identities Harrison employed in this profound statement.

Seth Mallios is Professor of Anthropology, University History Curator, and Director of the South Coastal Information Center at San Diego State University. An archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian, Professor Mallios received his BA from the University of California, Berkeley and his MA and PhD from the University of Virginia. Dr. Mallios previously served as Site Supervisor at the 1607 James Fort archaeological site in Jamestown, Virginia. Since moving to San Diego in 2001, Professor Mallios has spearheaded six active research projects resulting in nine books, dozens of articles, and nearly $2 million in over 80 extramural grants, contracts, and awards.

Subject: ArchaeologyHeritage StudiesHistory (General)Anthropology (General)
Area: North America


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