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About The Place We Make

The stunning true story of a Black man convicted and exiled from Oregon under the territory’s Exclusion Law in 1851, showing how the wrongs of the past reverberate today and challenging us, collectively and individually, to fight for change.

Summer, 1851. Racial tensions in America were higher than ever. The year before, President Millard Fillmore had passed the Fugitive Slave Act to return runaway slaves to the South. In February, Congress had established the reservation system, forcing Native Americans to leave their homelands. White Americans were strengthening dominance over people of color across the continent. In Oregon City, one biracial man named Jacob Vanderpool found himself in the crosshairs of this racist discrimination. His “crime”? Breaking Oregon’s Exclusion Law, which banned people of African descent from the Oregon Territory. A group of White men, unresisted by local pastor Ezra Fisher, succeeded in exiling Jacob Vanderpool from Oregon, making him the first and only person ever convicted under this racist law.

The Place We Make examines how past actions shape present injustice. As a White woman from Oregon (whose Portland has been called “the Whitest City in America”), and, in a surprise twist discovered in her research, a distant relation of the pastor complicit in Vanderpool’s prosecution, Sanderson confronts her ancestors’ overt racism, and her own unconscious biases. She reveals a gripping story far bigger than one small town, finding principles to help us all live a more just and faithful life. The Place We Make is a historical inquiry, a memoir, a lament, and a call to action for anyone concerned with faith and justice, asking: What is this place we inhabit? And how can we begin to change it?

About Sarah L. Sanderson

Sarah Sanderson is a creative writing teacher, and mother of four. She speaks regularly and holds a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from Seattle Pacific University, a master in teaching from Seattle University, and a bachelor of English and philosophy from Wheaton College. Her lifelong pursuits include peace, wholeness, compassion, and the error-free completion of the Sunday New York Times crossword.

Product Details

256 pages | Published by WaterBrook

On Sale Date: Aug 1, 2023

Trim Size: 5-1/2 x 8-1/4

Carton Quantity: 12