Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War

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Free At Last brings together some of the most remarkable letters ever written by Americans. Made widely available for the first time, these letters, personal testimonies, official transcripts, and other records convey the struggle of black men and women to overthrow the slave system, to aid the Union cause as laborers and soldiers, and to give meaning to their newly won freedom in a war-torn nation.

Available for the first time in an inexpensive paperback edition--letters, personal testimonies, transcripts, and records depicting the drama of Emancipation in the midst of the nation's bloodiest conflict. Drawn from the award-winning Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This superb anthology makes available to general readers selected materials originally published in, or projected for, the multivolume reference work Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation (Cambridge University Press). This collection's editors are all connected with the Freedom Project; Berlin is the coordinator. The letters, reports and depositions included here, largely drawn from Union records, tell at first hand the human story of African Americans in the Civil War, which, the editors contend, was also a second American revolution. Between 1861 and 1865 government was transformed, citizienship redefined, social classes rearranged--and blacks were at the center of the process. The texts offered have a common denominator: the determination displayed by African American men and women to control their own destinies, especially in relations with whites. The editing and annotations are models of their kind, explaining and clarifying while preserving the originals' authenticity and immediacy. Illustrations. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Drawn from letters, affidavits, records, and other documents collected by The Freedmen and Southern Society Project, Free at Last gives voice to compelling observations about slavery written by both blacks and whites, in the North and South, during the Civil War. Ranging from clever rhetoric to personal accounts of unspeakable cruelty, the documents display crude eloquence and sophisticated commentary together, without correction or alteration. Editorial annotations provide a unifying narrative thread. Many of the documents here were previously published in the volumes comprising Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 , also edited by Ira Berlin, but that does not diminish the usefulness of this volume as a means of providing broader access to them. Highly recommended for public and secondary school libraries.-- Lawrence E. Ellis, Newberry Coll. Lib., S.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565841208
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 1,290,528
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Table of Contents

Editorial Method
Editorial Symbols
Symbols Used to Describe Manuscripts
Short Titles and Abbreviations
Ch. I A War for the Union 3
Ch. II A War for Freedom 95
Ch. III Life and Labor within Union Lines 167
Ch. IV Free Labor in the Midst of War 241
Ch. V Slavery within the Union 333
Ch. VI Soldiers and Citizens 435
Notes 541
Suggestions for Further Reading 549
Index 555
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