I Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era

Overview

For a century and a half, Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation has been the dominant narrative of African American freedom in the Civil War era. However, David Williams suggests that this portrayal marginalizes the role that African American slaves played in freeing themselves. At the Civil War's outset, Lincoln made clear his intent was to save the Union rather than free slaves – despite his personal distaste for slavery, he claimed no authority to interfere with the institution. By the ...
See more details below
Paperback
$21.64
BN.com price
(Save 22%)$27.99 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (14) from $15.83   
  • New (11) from $18.72   
  • Used (3) from $15.83   
I Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$14.30
BN.com price
(Save 35%)$22.00 List Price

Overview

For a century and a half, Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation has been the dominant narrative of African American freedom in the Civil War era. However, David Williams suggests that this portrayal marginalizes the role that African American slaves played in freeing themselves. At the Civil War's outset, Lincoln made clear his intent was to save the Union rather than free slaves – despite his personal distaste for slavery, he claimed no authority to interfere with the institution. By the second year of the war, though, when the Union army was in desperate need of black support, former slaves who escaped to Union lines struck a bargain: they would fight for the Union only if they were granted their freedom. Williams importantly demonstrates that freedom was not simply the absence of slavery but rather a dynamic process enacted by self-emancipated African American refugees, which compelled Lincoln to modify his war aims and place black freedom at the center of his wartime policies.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If asked ‘who freed the slaves?’ most Americans would probably still answer Abraham Lincoln. But that answer does not do justice to the far more complicated process by which freedom was achieved or give credit to the primary movers behind it. This book reclaims the term ‘self-emancipation’, which only fell out of favor after the Civil War, to show how slaves were central to initiating and sustaining their own freedom. It is an imminently readable and engaging testament of stories that emanate from below, which provide a fuller picture of how the nation survived one of its most searing crises."
Tera Hunter, Princeton University

"I Freed Myself challenges more than a century of accepted scholarship that has situated Lincoln at the center of the emancipation story. By making black voices loud and clear, David Williams tells a story that historians will no longer be able to dismiss: how African Americans, the most powerless people in American history, collectively forced emancipation to be the fulcrum of the American Civil War and won their own freedom."
Scott Hancock, Gettysburg College

"Mastering primary sources and a vast secondary literature, and writing with verve and clarity, David Williams has made an important, lasting contribution to studies of the Civil War era. His book proves beyond doubt that the actions of America’s slaves repeatedly, and in many different ways, pushed emancipation onto the nation's agenda."
Paul Escott, Wake Forest University

"Timely and engaging, I Freed Myself offers a bold and unapologetic challenge to the conventional narrative of one of the most significant events in American history. Demonstrating that black freedom wasn’t bequeathed in an eloquent proclamation or bestowed as an inadvertent by-product of the Civil War, Williams draws on recent scholarship and his own meticulous research to place African Americans at the center of a negotiated process through which they leveraged their freedom. This is a passionately argued, gracefully written, and genuinely provocative book, one that deserves a wide readership and a place in undergraduate classrooms."
Mark Hersey, Mississippi State University

"One of the most accomplished and often most provocative historians of the Civil War home front, Williams has long stressed class conflict and grassroots dissent as integral parts of a social struggle waged in the North and the South from 1861 through 1865. … it is the cumulative effect of multiple stories, voices, and perspectives, laid out in forceful and often-impassioned prose that renders Williams’ account so fresh and so convincing. From the outbreak of the Civil War, African Americans turned what was meant to be a conflict to restore the Union into a war for their freedom. I Freed Myself fully lives up to its bold title by effectively documenting the variety of forms that 'self-emancipation' took and the variety of fronts on which it played out."
John C. Inscoe, The Journal of American History

"Williams has written a provocative, authoritative entry into the scholarly debate over African American emancipation in the Civil War era. He takes issue with those who argue that slavery was ended primarily by national leaders and the political process that culminated in the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Rather, he argues, blacks were largely ‘self-emancipated’ - the collective weight of their own actions against the teetering institution of slavery. In Williams’ telling, emancipation was thus a process of both Northern and Southern African Americans pushing a reluctant class of leaders to frame policies that only partially reflected the actual progress of blacks’ claiming freedom for themselves. Therefore, the full potential of emancipation was never realized, with white resistance (both implicit and explicit) limiting freedmen’s and freedwomen’s scope of liberty. Williams’ archival research is prodigious and his argument convincing. A must read for students of the era. Summing up: essential."
K. M. Gannon, Choice

"This is an important, inspiring, and at times a rather sad book about African American fights for freedom in the Civil War era. Williams makes a vital historiographical contribution to his field and uses a vast array of primary sources to make the point that enslaved people ultimately freed themselves. Situating black people’s fight for freedom within a long-run context of resistance to oppression, Williams argues for survival as a form of resistance, that black people fought for freedom by degrees, and for continuities in racial oppression running through slavery, the Civil War and subsequent emancipation. Throughout this book, Williams draws upon a wide range of primary evidence … this significant work provides an important counter-narrative, especially for more general readers of the Civil War era."
Emily West, Civil War Book Review

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107602496
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2014
  • Pages: 274
  • Sales rank: 1,120,779
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David Williams is Professor of History at Valdosta State University in Georgia, where he specializes in the Civil War era and the antebellum South. He is the author of ten books, including Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War and A People's History of the Civil War.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: following the footsteps of slaves; 1. 'Yes, we all shall be free': pressing the nation toward freedom; 2. 'Shedding the first blood': forcing a war for freedom; 3. 'Ready to die for liberty': expanding the boundaries of freedom; 4. 'Full equality before the law': claiming the rights of freedom; 5. 'All we ask is justice': continuing struggles for freedom.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)