More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889

More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889

by Stephen Kantrowitz
     
 

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A major new account of the Northern movement to establish African Americans as full citizens before, during, and after the Civil War

In More Than Freedom, award-winning historian Stephen Kantrowitz offers a bold rethinking of the Civil War era. Kantrowitz show how the fight to abolish slavery was always part of a much broader campaign by African

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Overview

A major new account of the Northern movement to establish African Americans as full citizens before, during, and after the Civil War

In More Than Freedom, award-winning historian Stephen Kantrowitz offers a bold rethinking of the Civil War era. Kantrowitz show how the fight to abolish slavery was always part of a much broader campaign by African Americans to claim full citizenship and to remake the white republic into a place where they could belong. More Than Freedom chronicles this epic struggle through the lives of black and white abolitionists in and around Boston, including Frederick Douglass, Senator Charles Sumner, and lesser known but equally important figures. Their bold actions helped bring about the Civil War, set the stage for Reconstruction, and left the nation forever altered.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
University of Wisconsin-Madison historian Kantrowitz (Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy) reappraises the role of African-American activists before and after the Civil War in this solid contribution to the historiography on citizenship, nationalism, and the politics of race in the United States. Kantrowitz broadens our general understanding of black and white efforts on behalf of black equality, underscoring continuities in antebellum and post-bellum politics, and demonstrating that from the early 19th century, with calls like David Walker’s famous Appeal, activists aimed at nothing short of the full promise and privileges of American citizenship for “colored citizens,” despite tremendous popular opposition and scorn. Kantrowitz concentrates on Boston’s rich history of activism (for which there is a corresponding richness of documentation) but the specifics offer contrasts and parallels at the national level. Close analyses of key figures as well as the relatively anonymous collective efforts underway in African-American organizations (including the early role of black churches and Masonic lodges) offer a nuanced understanding of a changing ideological and political landscape, including conceptions of “whiteness” and initially inchoate definitions of “citizenship.” (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
A searching history of the efforts by African-Americans before and after the Civil War to liberate their people and to stake a claim as equals in the land they helped build. Until the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted in 1865, writes Kantrowitz (History/Univ. of Wisconsin), "nearly 90 percent of African-Americans lived in slavery, and blackness was intimately intertwined with lifetime hereditary bondage." So intimately was slavery equated with being black, in fact, that even well-meaning whites had trouble putting African Americans on equal footing--e.g., African-American lecturers on the abolitionist circuit were paired with white lecturers but were paid less for the same work of rallying the audience to the cause of freedom. "Displays of autonomy," writes the author, "or requests for more pay by black speakers could bring chilly refusals and sharp rebukes." It was perhaps small comfort to the spurned speakers that they were at least free, for there were escaped slaves and ex-slaves among the freemen, among them Frederick Douglass, Henry Bibb and William Wells Brown. Such men--rarely women--became well known in the 1840s and '50s as the abolitionist movement grew, and inarguably they grew it. Still, when Douglass relocated to New York, his Bostonian patrons acted as if it were a personal rejection, setting off a decade of ugly back and forth that threatened to split the movement apart. Many of the figures in Kantrowitz's narrative have long been forgotten; many are oddly prescient, including those who refused to drop the notion that African-Americans might actually bear arms in well-regulated militias to serve the cause of freedom. That changed with the Civil War, the aftermath of which, writes the author, promised much but did not deliver all that it should have. A deft handling of overlooked history and a useful close study of data, documents and real lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143123446
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/30/2013
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
1,177,468
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Stephen Kantrowitz is the author of Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy, which was a New York Times Notable Book and won several scholarly awards. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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