Chained to the Rock of Adversity: To Be Free, Black, and Female in the Old South

Overview

Chained to the Rock of Adversity offers valuable insight into the lives of the South's free women of color, using personal letters and a diary to tell an extraordinary story. The letters were written to two women, Ann Battles Johnson and her eldest daughter Anna, between 1844 and 1899. Ann was the wife of the prosperous barber and businessman William T. Johnson of Natchez, Mississippi. Most of the letters were from family members who lived scattered up and down the Mississippi River, from Natchez to New Orleans. ...
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Overview

Chained to the Rock of Adversity offers valuable insight into the lives of the South's free women of color, using personal letters and a diary to tell an extraordinary story. The letters were written to two women, Ann Battles Johnson and her eldest daughter Anna, between 1844 and 1899. Ann was the wife of the prosperous barber and businessman William T. Johnson of Natchez, Mississippi. Most of the letters were from family members who lived scattered up and down the Mississippi River, from Natchez to New Orleans. Nearly all were from women. The diary was written by Catharine Geraldine Johnson, another of Ann and William's daughters. A freed slave herself, Ann Johnson became the head of her family and a slaveholder when her husband died in 1851. As the letters reveal, her days were filled with the often tedious and sometimes overwhelming duties assigned to slaveholding women. Taken together the letters and diary depict a tight-knit network of family and friends that reached across Mississippi and Louisiana. They also show a family aware of its precarious position in society, feared and poorly treated by most white neighbors and resented by other blacks. Editor Virginia Meacham Gould provides an extensive introduction, a cast of characters, identifying notes, and a brief afterword tracing the Johnson family to the present day.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a spectacular achievement. Gould gives us the only example we have of a free black woman's testimony. It is simply a treasure."—Catherine Clinton, author of Tara Revisited

"This is a splendid book. I cannot praise too highly the contributions by Gould in making this book come alive."—Carol Bleser, editor of Tokens of Affection: The Letters of a Planter's Daughter in the Old South

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Virginia Meacham Gould is the historian for the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Family Members and Other Principals
The Prewar Family Letters of the Johnson-Miller Women of Natchez and New Orleans 1
The Postwar Family Letters of the Johnson-Miller Women of Natchez and New Orleans 39
The Diary of Catharine Geraldine Johnson, 1864-1874 67
Epilogue 93
Index 95
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