"Myra Young Armstead brings to life James Brown, a self-possessed African American citizen of the pre-Civil War United States, and gives us a new understanding of the meaning of freedom in antebellum America. As a master gardener in rural upstate New York, James Brown charted a life of complex alliances across racial lines and advocacy on behalf of fellow African Americans. Armstead's wonderful work of recovery illuminates a path to freedom in the rural North that we have known little about."
-Leslie M. Harris,Emory University
"This is far more than a book about a gardener–though it is a fascinating story about nineteenth-century American horticulture. Freedom’s Gardener tells us about the opportunities and limits that framed the lives of African Americans in places like New York’s Hudson Valley. And a good read to boot.”
-James Grossman,University of Chicago
"Armstead explores the meaning of northern African American identity through her deft decoding of a ten-volume diary left by James F. Brown... Recommended for historians of antebellum America or the social aspects of horticulture and for those interested in historical diaries. Incipient researchers will learn the differences among term, life, and wage slaves and much else." -Library Journal,
"With this meticulously sourced and carefully reasoned portrait, Armstead reclaims an outstanding American who helped freedom grow."-Booklist,
This in-depth study of the life of an African American slave turned master gardener is an enlightening examination of a period of American history that seems to have slipped from public scrutiny in recent years."-Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer,Chicago Botanic Garden