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Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

by W. Caleb McDaniel

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History The unforgettable saga of one enslaved woman's fight for justice--and reparations Born into slavery, Henrietta Wood was taken to Cincinnati and legally freed in 1848. In 1853, a Kentucky deputy sheriff named Zebulon Ward colluded with Wood's employer, abducted her, and sold her back into bondage. She remained enslaved throughout the Civil War, giving birth to a son in Mississippi and never forgetting who had put her in this position. By 1869, Wood had obtained her freedom for a second time and returned to Cincinnati, where she sued Ward for damages in 1870. Astonishingly, after eight years of litigation, Wood won her case: in 1878, a Federal jury awarded her $2,500. The decision stuck on appeal. More important than the amount, though the largest ever awarded by an American court in restitution for slavery, was the fact that any money was awarded at all. By the time the case was decided, Ward had become a wealthy businessman and a pioneer of convict leasing in the South. Wood's son later became a prominent Chicago lawyer, and she went on to live until 1912. McDaniel's book is an epic tale of a black woman who survived slavery twice and who achieved more than merely a moral victory over one of her oppressors. Above all, Sweet Taste of Liberty is a portrait of an extraordinary individual as well as a searing reminder of the lessons of her story, which establish beyond question the connections between slavery and the prison system that rose in its place.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190847012
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 08/07/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 480,634
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

W. Caleb McDaniel is Mary Gibbs Jones Professor of Humanities and Professor and Chair of the History Department at Rice University. His website is and he can be found on Twitter at @wcaleb.

Table of Contents

Prologue Part I - The Worst Slave of Them All Chapter 1: The Crossing Chapter 2: Touseytown Chapter 3: Down River Chapter 4: Ward's Return Chapter 5: Cincinnati Chapter 6: The Plan Chapter 7: The Flight Part II - Forks of the Road Chapter 8: Raising a Muss Chapter 9: Wood versus Ward Chapter 10: The Keeper Chapter 11: Natchez Chapter 12: Brandon Hall Chapter 13: Versailles Chapter 14: Revolution Chapter 15: The March Part III - The Return of Henrietta Wood Chapter 16: Arthur Chapter 17: Robertson County Chapter 18: Dawn and Doom Chapter 19: Nashville Chapter 20: A Rather Interesting Case Chapter 21: Story of a Slave Chapter 22: The Verdict Epilogue Acknowledgements Appendix: An Essay on Sources Notes Index

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