A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War

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A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War
Title A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War
Author
Publisher Yale University Press
Release DateNovember 24, 2020
Category Law
Total Pages 432 pages
ISBN 0300234120
Book Rating 5 out of 5 from 5 reviews
Language EN, ES, BE, DA ,DE , NL and FR
Book Review & Summary:

The story of the longest and most complex legal challenge to slavery in American history "A rich, roiling history that Thomas recounts with eloquence and skill. . . . The very existence of freedom suits assumed that slavery could only be circumscribed and local; what Thomas shows in his illuminating book is how this view was eventually turned upside down in decisions like Dred Scott. 'Freedom was local,' Thomas writes. 'Slavery was national.'"—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times For over seventy years and five generations, the enslaved families of Prince George’s County, Maryland, filed hundreds of suits for their freedom against a powerful circle of slaveholders, taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation’s capital. Piecing together evidence once dismissed in court and buried in the archives, William Thomas tells an intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys, and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. A Question of Freedom asks us to reckon with the moral problem of slavery and its legacies in the present day.

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A Question Of Freedom by William G. Thomas

Title A Question of Freedom
Author William G. Thomas
Publisher Yale University Press
Release Date 2020-11-24
Category History
Total Pages 416
ISBN 9780300256277
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The story of the longest and most complex legal challenge to slavery in American history For over seventy years and five generations, the enslaved families of Prince George’s County, Maryland, filed hundreds of suits for their freedom against a powerful circle of slaveholders, taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation’s capital. Piecing together evidence once dismissed in court and buried in the archives, William Thomas tells an intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys, and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. A Question of Freedom asks us to reckon with the moral problem of slavery and its legacies in the present day.

Title The Fiery Trial Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
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Book Summary:

“A masterwork [by] the preeminent historian of the Civil War era.”—Boston Globe Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth.

Title Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground
Author Barbara Jeanne Fields
Publisher Yale University Press
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Total Pages 268
ISBN 0300040326
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Book Summary:

Examines the history of slavery in Maryland and discusses the conditions of life of Maryland's slaves and free Blacks.

Title What to the Slave is the Fourth of July
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Release Date 2021-04-23
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ISBN 9781513293820
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Book Summary:

What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? (1852) is a novella by Frederick Douglass. Having escaped from slavery in the South at a young age, Frederick Douglass became a prominent orator and autobiographer who spearheaded the American abolitionist movement in the mid-nineteenth century. In this famous speech, published widely in pamphlet form after it was given to a meeting of the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society on July 5th, 1852, Douglass exposes the hypocrisy of America’s claim to Christian and democratic ideals in spite of its legacy of enslavement. Personal and political, Douglass’ speech helped inspire the burgeoning abolitionist movement, which fought tirelessly for emancipation in the decades leading up to the American Civil War. “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?...What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.” Drawing upon his own experiences as an escaped slave, Douglass offers a critique of American independence from the perspective of those who had never been free within its borders. Hopeful and courageous, Douglass’ voice remains an essential part of our history, reminding us time and again who we are, who we have been, and what we can be as a nation. While much of his radical message has been smoothed over through the passage of time, its revolutionary truth continues to resonate today. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Frederick Douglass’ What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? is a classic of African American literature reimagined for modern readers.

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A groundbreaking, must-read history demonstrating that America's economic supremacy was built on the backs of slaves Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution -- the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America's later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in the prizewinning The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy. Told through intimate slave narratives, plantation records, newspapers, and the words of politicians, entrepreneurs, and escaped slaves, The Half Has Never Been Told offers a radical new interpretation of American history. Bloomberg View Top Ten Nonfiction Books of 2014 Daily Beast Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 Winner of the 2015 Avery O. Craven Prize from the Organization of American HistoriansWinner of the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize

South To Freedom by Alice L Baumgartner

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Book Summary:

A brilliant and surprising account of the coming of the American Civil War, showing the crucial role of slaves who escaped to Mexico. The Underground Railroad to the North promised salvation to many American slaves before the Civil War. But thousands of people in the south-central United States escaped slavery not by heading north but by crossing the southern border into Mexico, where slavery was abolished in 1837. In South to Freedom, historianAlice L. Baumgartner tells the story of why Mexico abolished slavery and how its increasingly radical antislavery policies fueled the sectional crisis in the United States. Southerners hoped that annexing Texas and invading Mexico in the 1840s would stop runaways and secure slavery's future. Instead, the seizure of Alta California and Nuevo México upset the delicate political balance between free and slave states. This is a revelatory and essential new perspective on antebellum America and the causes of the Civil War.

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A Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the mistreatment of black Americans. In this 'precise and eloquent work' - as described in its Pulitzer Prize citation - Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history - an 'Age of Neoslavery' that thrived in the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II. Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Blackmon unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude thereafter. By turns moving, sobering and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals these stories, the companies that profited the most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.

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Title The Gettysburg Address
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Book Summary:

The Address was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, during the American Civil War, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the decisive Battle of Gettysburg. In just over two minutes, Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and redefined the Civil War as a struggle not merely for the Union, but as "a new birth of freedom" that would bring true equality to all of its citizens, and that would also create a unified nation in which states' rights were no longer dominant. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

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The racist legacy behind the Western idea of freedom The era of the Enlightenment, which gave rise to our modern conceptions of freedom and democracy, was also the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. America, a nation founded on the principle of liberty, is also a nation built on African slavery, Native American genocide, and systematic racial discrimination. White Freedom traces the complex relationship between freedom and race from the eighteenth century to today, revealing how being free has meant being white. Tyler Stovall explores the intertwined histories of racism and freedom in France and the United States, the two leading nations that have claimed liberty as the heart of their national identities. He explores how French and American thinkers defined freedom in racial terms and conceived of liberty as an aspect and privilege of whiteness. He discusses how the Statue of Liberty—a gift from France to the United States and perhaps the most famous symbol of freedom on Earth—promised both freedom and whiteness to European immigrants. Taking readers from the Age of Revolution to today, Stovall challenges the notion that racism is somehow a paradox or contradiction within the democratic tradition, demonstrating how white identity is intrinsic to Western ideas about liberty. Throughout the history of modern Western liberal democracy, freedom has long been white freedom. A major work of scholarship that is certain to draw a wide readership and transform contemporary debates, White Freedom provides vital new perspectives on the inherent racism behind our most cherished beliefs about freedom, liberty, and human rights.

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Uncle Tom S Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Book Summary:

Title Gateway to Freedom The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad
Author Eric Foner
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
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Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The dramatic story of fugitive slaves and the antislavery activists who defied the law to help them reach freedom. More than any other scholar, Eric Foner has influenced our understanding of America's history. Now, making brilliant use of extraordinary evidence, the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian once again reconfigures the national saga of American slavery and freedom. A deeply entrenched institution, slavery lived on legally and commercially even in the northern states that had abolished it after the American Revolution. Slaves could be found in the streets of New York well after abolition, traveling with owners doing business with the city's major banks, merchants, and manufacturers. New York was also home to the North’s largest free black community, making it a magnet for fugitive slaves seeking refuge. Slave catchers and gangs of kidnappers roamed the city, seizing free blacks, often children, and sending them south to slavery. To protect fugitives and fight kidnappings, the city's free blacks worked with white abolitionists to organize the New York Vigilance Committee in 1835. In the 1840s vigilance committees proliferated throughout the North and began collaborating to dispatch fugitive slaves from the upper South, Washington, and Baltimore, through Philadelphia and New York, to Albany, Syracuse, and Canada. These networks of antislavery resistance, centered on New York City, became known as the underground railroad. Forced to operate in secrecy by hostile laws, courts, and politicians, the city’s underground-railroad agents helped more than 3,000 fugitive slaves reach freedom between 1830 and 1860. Until now, their stories have remained largely unknown, their significance little understood. Building on fresh evidence—including a detailed record of slave escapes secretly kept by Sydney Howard Gay, one of the key organizers in New York—Foner elevates the underground railroad from folklore to sweeping history. The story is inspiring—full of memorable characters making their first appearance on the historical stage—and significant—the controversy over fugitive slaves inflamed the sectional crisis of the 1850s. It eventually took a civil war to destroy American slavery, but here at last is the story of the courageous effort to fight slavery by "practical abolition," person by person, family by family.

The Iron Way by William G. Thomas

Title The Iron Way
Author William G. Thomas
Publisher Yale University Press
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Category History
Total Pages 291
ISBN 9780300171686
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Book Summary:

How railroads both united and divided us: “Integrates military and social history…a must-read for students, scholars and enthusiasts alike.”—Civil War Monitor Beginning with Frederick Douglass’s escape from slavery in 1838 on the railroad, and ending with the driving of the golden spike to link the transcontinental railroad in 1869, this book charts a critical period of American expansion and national formation, one largely dominated by the dynamic growth of railroads and telegraphs. William G. Thomas brings new evidence to bear on railroads, the Confederate South, slavery, and the Civil War era, based on groundbreaking research in digitized sources never available before. The Iron Way revises our ideas about the emergence of modern America and the role of the railroads in shaping the sectional conflict. Both the North and the South invested in railroads to serve their larger purposes, Thomas contends. Though railroads are often cited as a major factor in the Union’s victory, he shows that they were also essential to the formation of “the South” as a unified region. He discusses the many—and sometimes unexpected—effects of railroad expansion, and proposes that America’s great railroads became an important symbolic touchstone for the nation’s vision of itself. “In this provocative and deeply researched book, William G. Thomas follows the railroad into virtually every aspect of Civil War history, showing how it influenced everything from slavery’s antebellum expansion to emancipation and segregation—from guerrilla warfare to grand strategy. At every step, Thomas challenges old assumptions and finds new connections on this much-traveled historical landscape."—T.J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Title The Second Founding How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution
Author Eric Foner
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 2019-09-17
Category History
Total Pages 288
ISBN 9780393652581
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time. The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States. Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre–Civil War mass meetings of African-American “colored citizens” and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Title The New Jim Crow
Author Michelle Alexander
Publisher The New Press
Release Date 2020-01-07
Category Law
Total Pages 434
ISBN 9781620971949
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Named one of the most important nonfiction books of the 21st century by Entertainment Weekly‚ Slate‚ Chronicle of Higher Eduction‚ Literary Hub, Book Riot‚ and Zora A tenth-anniversary edition of the iconic bestseller—“one of the most influential books of the past 20 years,” according to the Chronicle of Higher Education—with a new preface by the author “It is in no small part thanks to Alexander’s account that civil rights organizations such as Black Lives Matter have focused so much of their energy on the criminal justice system.” —Adam Shatz, London Review of Books Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.” Now, ten years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a tenth-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.

Title The Thin Light of Freedom The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America
Author Edward L. Ayers
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 2017-10-24
Category History
Total Pages 640
ISBN 9780393292640
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Winner of the Lincoln Prize A landmark Civil War history told from a fresh, deeply researched ground-level perspective. At the crux of America’s history stand two astounding events: the immediate and complete destruction of the most powerful system of slavery in the modern world, followed by a political reconstruction in which new constitutions established the fundamental rights of citizens for formerly enslaved people. Few people living in 1860 would have dared imagine either event, and yet, in retrospect, both seem to have been inevitable. In a beautifully crafted narrative, Edward L. Ayers restores the drama of the unexpected to the history of the Civil War. From the same vantage point occupied by his unforgettable characters, Ayers captures the strategic savvy of Lee and his local lieutenants, and the clear vision of equal rights animating black troops from Pennsylvania. We see the war itself become a scourge to the Valley, its pitched battles punctuating a cycle of vicious attack and reprisal in which armies burned whole towns for retribution. In the weeks and months after emancipation, from the streets of Staunton, Virginia, we see black and white residents testing the limits of freedom as political leaders negotiate the terms of readmission to the Union. With analysis as powerful as its narrative, here is a landmark history of the Civil War.

Title Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Author Frederick Douglass
Publisher Courier Corporation
Release Date 2012-04-18
Category Literary Collections
Total Pages 96
ISBN 9780486110103
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The impassioned abolitionist and eloquent orator provides graphic descriptions of his childhood and horrifying experiences as a slave as well as a harrowing record of his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom.

Armies Of Deliverance by Elizabeth R. Varon

Title Armies of Deliverance
Author Elizabeth R. Varon
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date 2019
Category HISTORY
Total Pages 528
ISBN 9780190860608
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Loyal Americans marched off to war in 1861 not to conquer the South but to liberate it. In Armies of Deliverance, Elizabeth Varon offers both a sweeping narrative of the Civil War and a bold new interpretation of Union and Confederate war aims. Lincoln's Union coalition sought to deliver the South from slaveholder tyranny and deliver to it the blessings of modern civilization. Over the course of the war, supporters of black freedom built the case that slavery was the obstacle to national reunion and that emancipation would secure military victory and benefit Northern and Southern whites alike. To sustain their morale, Northerners played up evidence of white Southern Unionism, of antislavery progress in the slaveholding border states, and of disaffection among Confederates. But the Union's emphasis on Southern deliverance served, ironically, not only to galvanize loyal Amer icans but also to galvanize disloyal ones. Confederates, fighting to establish an independent slaveholding republic, scorned the Northern promise of liberation and argued that the emancipation of blacks was synonymous with the subjugation of the white South.

Title The Story of American Freedom
Author Eric Foner
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 1999
Category History
Total Pages 422
ISBN 0393319628
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Chronicles the history of America's pursuit of liberty, tracing the struggles among freed slaves, union organizers, women rights advocates, and other groups to widen freedom's promise

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