Emancipation's Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest / Edition 1

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Most studies of emancipation's consequences have focused on the South. Moving the discussion to the North. Leslie Schwalm enriches our understanding of the national impact of the transition from slavery to freedom. Emancipation's Diaspora follows the lives and experiences of thousands of men and women who liberated themselves from slavery, made their way to overwhelmingly white communities in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and worked to live in dignity as free women and men and as citizens.

Schwalm explores the hotly contested politics of black enfranchisement as well as collisions over segregation, civil rights, and the more informal politics of race-including how slavery and emancipation would be remembered and commemorated. She examines how gender shaped the politics of race and how gender relations were contested and negotiated within the black community. Based on extensive archival research, Emancipation's Diaspora shows how in churches and schools, in voting booths and Masonic temples, in bustling cities and rural crossroads, black and white midwesterners-women and men-shaped the local and national consequences of emancipation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Confirms US Reconstruction's national dimensions. . . . Recommended.—Choice

Breadth and ingenuity in research, historiographical sophistication, and a lucid prose style make this study a major contribution.—American Historical Review

Not since Leslie Harris's In the Shadow of Slavery (2003) has a historian examined the story of slavery, Civil War, and freedom above the Mason Dixon line with such productive results….Let us hope that Emancipation's Diaspora brings Reconstruction and its reverberations into the orbit of today's excitement around 'freedom North' scholarship." —Journal of American History

An engaging analysis of a region that historians of race have neglected. . . . [An] important book.—Journal of Southern History

An engaging, multi-faceted study of 'place' in the 'post-emancipation nation,' Emancipation's Diaspora provides a window into the emerging national history of the transition from slavery to freedom.—The Journal of African American History

This book's regional focus and its attention to gender and women's experiences make it a crucial contribution to an ongoing reevaluation of black history, racial politics, and sectional identity in the nineteenth-century North. . . . Schwalm deftly uses archival and published military records. . . . An invaluable entry in a growing body of scholarship on the impact of slavery and its legacies outside the South.—Civil War History

A much needed addition to the growing historiography on emancipation and Reconstruction. . . . Innovative. . . . Persuasively demonstrates that historians would be remiss to ignore the consequences of emancipation and its subsequent diaspora in regions outside of the slave South—specifically, the Upper Midwest.—Indiana Magazine of History

[A] remarkable book. . . . Relying on an impressive array of manuscript collections, newspapers, census data, diaries, letters, army records, and memoirs, Schwalm makes a case that is undeniable. . . . The book is especially strong in bringing into focus the lives of black women.—Minnesota History

Schwalm presents the history of the black diaspora into the Reconstruction Midwest with impressive skill, learning, and insight….practic[ing] cultural history skillfully without succumbing to the obtuse language often associated with it….Schwalm has expanded the traditional story of Reconstruction in new and exciting ways.—Journal of Social History

Emancipation's Diaspora successfully demolishes the insistence of some authors that emancipation really did not change anything, but it is also exquisitely sensitive to the very complicated nature of emancipation's impact on ideas about race in the United States. . . . It is impossible to finish this book and not see slavery, race, and emancipation as truly national questions whose repercussions continued to reverberate throughout the entire nineteenth century and beyond.—Journal of Illinois History

[Schwalm] has done historians of race, slavery, and Reconstruction a great service by locating her study in a veritable no-man's land [the Midwest]. . . . Impressive.—H-Net Reviews

Expand[s] our historical understanding of black migration and presence in the Midwest after the Civil War. . . . [The] diversity of sources . . . creates an especially rich base of evidence that tells the story of Iowa, but also of the region and the country as a whole. . . . An important book for all scholars of midwestern history.—Annals of Iowa

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Leslie A. Schwalm is associate professor of history, women's studies, and African American studies at the University of Iowa. She is author of A Hard Fight for We: Women's Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 "A Full Realization of the Barbarities of Slavery" 9

Chapter 2 "A Time of Scattering" 43

Chapter 3 "Overrun with Free Negroes": The Politics of Wartime Emancipation and Migration in the Upper Midwest 81

Chapter 4 "To Go and Help Be Free": Migration and the Black Military Experience 107

Chapter 5 "The Building Up of Our Race": Creating a Life in Freedom 135

Chapter 6 "Freedom Was All They Had": Civil Rights and Northern Reconstruction 175

Chapter 7 "Agonizing Groans of Mothers" and "Slave-Scarred Veterans": History, Commemoration, and Memoir in the Aftermath of Slavery 219

Epilogue 265

Notes 267

Bibliography 339

Index 375

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