We All Got History: The Memory Books of Amos Webber

Overview

One chilly December evening in the city of Philadelphia, a twenty-eight-year-old man named Amos Webber opened up a notebook and began to keep a chronicle. He wrote about the weather and about politics, about friends and about family, and he wrote about what it was like to be a black American in a land that still considered those of his skin color to be less than human. The year was 1854. Webber was active in the Underground Railroad, fought in the Civil War, was a leader in the African-American fraternal ...
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Mar1106-01 1996 Hard cover Illustrated. New in New jacket New in New jacket New in New jacket New in New jacket New in new dust jacket. NEW condition. No bumps, no creases, no ... markings of any kind. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. African-American; African-American Studies; Afro-Americans; Biography & Autobiography; Civil War; Diaries; Ethnic Studies; General; History; Non-Fiction; People of Color; Social Science; United States; Webber, Amos; Mar1106-01. Read more Show Less

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Overview

One chilly December evening in the city of Philadelphia, a twenty-eight-year-old man named Amos Webber opened up a notebook and began to keep a chronicle. He wrote about the weather and about politics, about friends and about family, and he wrote about what it was like to be a black American in a land that still considered those of his skin color to be less than human. The year was 1854. Webber was active in the Underground Railroad, fought in the Civil War, was a leader in the African-American fraternal movement, and was a political activist who never stopped fighting for justice and equality. His was the life of many African-Americans in the nineteenth century, of church and family, of friends and patriotism, of racism, and of pride. Using Webber's own chronicle as its heart, Nick Salvatore's book surrounds Amos's words with an astonishing wealth of research and richness of character and description. We meet escaped slaves and their vengeful masters, Civil War generals and infantrymen, ministers and musicians, husbands and wives, politicians and criminals, those who welcomed change and those who fought it. We travel to nineteenth-century Philadelphia, a bustling port city of a quarter million residents, where Amos Webber worked as a servant and handyman; to Worcester, Massachusetts, a burgeoning industrial town, where Webber would find his calling as a community leader; to the Civil War South, as Webber's service as a Union soldier took him from battlefields and prison camps to the conquered cities of Richmond and Petersburg and even into Texas. A vibrant African-American culture - one hidden from most Americans at the time and from history books since - is revealed as never before through Webber's own words and Salvatore's spectacular integration of letters, newspaper accounts, primary documents, and a host of other sources. No matter how rich you imagined the African American legacy in this country, this book will astound you. We All Got History will profou

In 1985, Nick Salvatore stumbled upon a 2,000-page chronicle in a Harvard library. The journal of Amos Webber, who was active in the Underground Railroad, fought in the Civil War and was a political activist, is the core of this eye-opening history. Through Webber's life, readers see not only the history of one man, but the history of our nation. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the midst of his research on labor history, Cornell University historian Salvatore (Eugene V. Debs) accidentally came upon the nine-volume journals of a factory worker named Amos Webber (1826- 1904), an activist in the black communities of Philadelphia and Worcester, Mass. Salvatore makes a yeoman's effort to flesh out citations and contextualize Webber's life, but unfortunately Webber's circumspect writings can't support a fully vitalized portrait of his experiences, motives and passions. Salvatore describes the violence Webber faced in early 19th-century Philadelphia, his role in fraternal organizations like the Odd Fellow and his apparent aid to abolitionists. Webber volunteered for the segregated Massachusetts cavalry and suffered numerous slights, but he took from it sense of the promise of American citizenship-fuel for his moral efforts in the lodge and church to seek equal rights for blacks. Illustrations. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Following his Bancroft and Dunning prize-winning biography of socialist labor leader Eugene V. Debs (Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist, Univ. of Illinois, 1982), historian Salvatore offers a life-and-times biography of a previously unknown black activist named Amos Webber (1826-1904), who lived mostly in Philadelphia and Worcester, Massachusetts. Working from entries Webber logged in so-called memory books preserved at Harvard, Salvatore has developed connections and contexts to clarify black collective relationships and institutional and social structures of the 1800s. His re-creation illuminates not merely the private and public life of one black man but shadows the African American life as lived day to day in its intricacies, values, and commitments. Recommended for U.S. and black history collections.-Thomas J. Davis, SUNY-Buffalo
Ray Olson
Doing research for an article on nineteenth-century American workers, Salvatore discovered a nine-volume, handwritten "Thermometer Book" by one Amos Webber (18261904). He thought it might be about the management of industrial furnaces, but it was instead the diary (Webber's title reflected his recording of daily weather conditions) of a free black, born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who had lived, worked, and become a pillar of the black community in, first, Philadelphia, and then, Worcester, Massachusetts. Family man, homeowner, and worker in the offices of white-owned businesses, Webber was also active in his church (Presbyterian and, later, African Methodist), fraternal organization (black Odd Fellows, initially sponsored by a British lodge when white American Odd Fellows refused), and politics (Republican despite his labor sympathies because Democrats were more racist). He aided the Underground Railroad's work, was a quartermaster sergeant during the Civil War, helped organize his churches' community activities and black veterans' gatherings, and even contributed modestly to Worcester's black press. Salvatore's reconstruction of Webber's life, though often dry reading, is a major achievement in social history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812926811
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/6/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.53 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Pt. 1 Becoming an Activist: 1826-1860
Pt. 2 The War for Freedom: 1861-1876
Pt. 3 To Be Honorable in the Community: 1877-1904
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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