Slavery, Resistance, Freedom

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Overview


Americans have always defined themselves in terms of their freedoms--of speech, of religion, of political dissent. How we interpret our history of slavery--the ultimate denial of these freedoms--deeply affects how we understand the very fabric of our democracy.
This extraordinary collection of essays by some of America's top historians focuses on how African Americans resisted slavery and how they responded when finally free. Ira Berlin sets the stage by stressing the relationship between how we understand slavery and how we discuss race today. The remaining essays offer a richly textured examination of all aspects of slavery in America. John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger recount actual cases of runaway slaves, their motivations for escape and the strains this widespread phenomenon put on white slave-owners. Scott Hancock explores how free black Northerners created a proud African American identity out of the oral history of slavery in the south. Edward L. Ayers, William G. Thomas III, and Anne Sarah Rubin draw upon their remarkable Valley of the Shadow website to describe the wartime experiences of African Americans living on both borders of the Mason-Dixon line. Noah Andre Trudeau turns our attention to the war itself, examining the military experience of the only all-black division in the Army of the Potomac. And Eric Foner gives us a new look at how black leaders performed during the Reconstruction, revealing that they were far more successful than is commonly acknowledged--indeed, they represented, for a time, the fulfillment of the American ideal that all people could aspire to political office.
Wide-ranging, authoritative, and filled with invaluable historical insight, Slavery, Resistance, Freedom brings a host of powerful voices to America's evolving conversation about race.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[This book] helps to sharpen our attention on the collective and individual ways that the non-celebrated have perceived and definied the intraracial and interracial dynamics of the antebellum era... Each chapter stimulates readers and forces them to think carefull about the ways Americans have defined themselves and their freedom relative to issues of slavery and race... Most useful in this collection are the methods employed by contributors to explore the wors and activities of the bottom-rail, those ordinary working-class men and women." --Journal of African American History

"Highly recommended for readers who favor a scholarly approach over narative drama and are seeking a deeper understanding of slavery and its effects." --The Civil War Times

"Concise, compelling, and highly readable, this essay collection will be of interest to a general audience and to graduate and undergraduate students alike." --Journal of Southern History

Library Journal

The paradoxical centrality of slavery to American freedom occupies this slender volume's six essays. Representing lectures delivered by various prominent historians at Gettysburg College's Civil War Institute, where Boritt serves as director, the pieces are not new. Yet fitted together by Boritt and history department colleague Hancock, they briskly review American Negro slavery's influence in the advent and aftermath of the Civil War. John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger recall the persistence with which slaves shucked their chains to steal themselves away in numbers near epidemic. Two essays treat the black experience during the war, one focusing on civilians and the other on the Army of the Potomac's black division. Hancock sketches how blacks in the antebellum North used slavery's legacy in building their identity as Americans. Eric Foner further details that legacy after the war as ex-slaves in the South rose to lead their region toward a better day. Ira Berlin's opening essay on slavery in American history and memory scrolls to and fro to show slavery's continuing importance. This little stimulant from leading hands goes a long way in pointing out how and why slavery still matters so much in U.S. history and life. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
—Thomas J. Davis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195102222
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/30/2007
  • Series: Gettysburg Civil War Institute Books Series
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gabor S. Boritt is Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. His books include Why the Civil War Came and The Gettysburg Nobody Knows.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Gabor S. Boritt
Introduction Scott Hancock
Ch 1: American Slavery in History and Memory, Ira Berlin
Ch 2: The Quest for Freedom: Runaway Slaves and the Plantation South, John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweniger
Ch 3: "Tradition Informs Us": African Americans' Construction of memory in the Antebellum North, Scott Hancock
Ch 4: Black and on the Border, Edward L. Ayers, William G. Thomas III, and Anne Sarah Rubin
Ch 5: A Stranger in the Club: The Army of the Potomac's Black Division, Noah Andre Trudeau
Ch 6: "The Tocsin of Freedom": The Black Leadership of Radical Reconstruction, Eric Foner

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