Stephen G. Hall. A Faithful Account of the Race: African American Historical Writing in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. xv + 334 pp. $65.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8078-3305-6; $22.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8078-5967-4.
Richard M. Reid. Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina's Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. xvii + 420 pp. Illustrations, maps. $40.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8078-3174-8.
Crandall A. Shifflett, ed. John Washington's Civil War: A Slave Narrative. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008. xxxiii + 106 pp. $36.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8071-3301-9; $16.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8071-3302-6.
Reviewed by Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie (Howard University)
Published on H-CivWar (August, 2010)
Commissioned by Martin P. Johnson (Miami University Hamilton)
Slaves, Soldiers, and Scholars
Once upon a time, U.S. historians happily examined slavery without slaves, the American Civil War without black troops, and nineteenth-century historiography without African American historians. Such oversights have become increasingly unacceptable over the past two generations. Today, few historians examine slavery without paying serious attention to the enslaved, while slave narratives have moved from the periphery of abolitionist propaganda to U.S. literary classics. Scholars interested in the military history of the American Civil War usually view it as a war involving three types of soldiers--Unionist blue, Confederate grey, and United States Colored Troops (USCT) blue--with the latter deemed indispensable to the outcome of the conflict. Indeed, one persuasive assumption is that the Confederacy was doomed to defeat precisely because it could not employ black troops to support, fight, and defend a new slave-based nation in the making. The recent rise of the black intellectual in the public arena has sent scholars scurrying back into the past to seek the origins of black scholarship. This is no doubt fueled by the existence of a successful class of black intellectuals working and producing in the academy. The reasons for this transformation are harder to agree upon, although one would have to point to the rise of social history, the multicultural dream of modern America, and the scholars’ hope of creating a more complete picture of the nation’s past. These three books by Crandall Shifflett, Richard Reid, and Stephen Hall provide a useful gauge with which to measure how far we have come since those “happy” days. They also suggest how much more work there is to be done.
Since 1776, there have appeared over two hundred book-length autobiographies of former slaves published in the English-speaking Atlantic world. The primary objective of the slave narrative was to challenge and refute proslavery justifications for the continuation of the American institution of slavery. Its zenith was the antebellum era of the 1830s through the 1860s. The major producers of this challenge were former slaves who had escaped from the Southern prison of slavery and provided first-hand accounts of both its egregious horrors as well as its more subtle human indignities. The image of the contented slave took a battering from the onslaught of ex-slaves’ public testimony to American barbarism. Former slaves continued to publish their memoirs long after the legal abolition of U.S. slavery in 1865. John Washington’s “Memorys of the Past” written in 1872 was one such example.
Washington was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on May 20, 1838. His early childhood, with its rural play, church meetings, corn shucking, harvest-time, and Christmas celebrations, was “most plasant” (p. 1). Recent scholarship suggests that Washington’s recollections are more useful as a means of appreciating rituals of slave communal life around family, church, festivals, etc., rather than buttressing the old proslavery view of the contented slave. As a young boy, he learned his letters, a formidable challenge in a society in which it was illegal for slaves to be literate. The early 1850s passed “in the usual routine of Slave life with its Many sorrows and fears and fiting [sic] hopes of Escape to Freedom” (p. 27). In 1860, Washington was hired out to work in a tobacco factory in Fredericksburg where he “learned the art of preparing Tobacco for the mill” (p. 29). Two years later, he was working as a steward and “bar-keeper” at the Shakespear House. After the town was captured by Union troops in the spring of 1862, Washington worked for the Union army as a guide and a general’s orderly. He eventually moved to Washington DC where he labored as a stevedore, liquor factory bottler, and house painter, while his wife Annie worked as a dressmaker. By 1880, the couple had raised five sons. Washington may have relocated to Boston where his son William lived because he died in Massachusetts in 1918, at the age of eighty.
One of the surprises about this edition of Washington’s slave narrative is its editor. Crandall Shifflett, a history professor at Virginia Tech University, is best known for his studies of postbellum tobacco Virginia and the Appalachia coal region. He is not known for writing on the slave experience. During the early 1990s, however, Professor Shifflett came across Washington’s memoir. It had been microfilmed at some point and left to gather dust in the Library of Congress. The excitement of making this discovery was enhanced by the fact that it involved an individual in a geographical area with which the historian had personal connections.
Professor Shifflett is to be commended for providing us with another slave narrative. He is right with regard to the memoir’s historical significance: it bears “eyewitness from the slave’s point of view” (p. xii). His reproduction of Washington’s hand-drawn map and its redrawing is very useful, and I hope to use it with my students as an example of slaves’ creativity. Finally, the history of this edition’s production is quite interesting. David Blight’s A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped To Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation (2007) includes Washington’s memoir. According to Professor Shifflett, the claim by various reviewers thatProfessor Blight discovered the memoir, together with the Massachusetts Historical Society’s refusal to release any of Washington’s additional materials except to the New York Times, a literary agent, and Professor Blight, constitutes foul play. This tension is less important than what we might learn from Washington’s experiences.
There are some problems with Professor Shifflet’s edition. Washington’s memoir runs thirty-nine pages; yet the editor’s comments that follow upon each chapter are nearly twice as long. Their usefulness is overridden by too many local details on Fredericksburg and Civil War military history, topics that interest the editor but obviously held much less relevance for Washington, let alone those interested in the slave narrative genre. A good example is chapter 8, “First Night of Freedom”: Washington’s memoir runs seven pages and details his welcoming of Union troops, his work for them, and, interestingly, the hesitancy of some slaves to join Union lines; yet the editor’s comments run to thirteen pages devoted largely to Fredericksburg’s occupation, military campaigning in Virginia, and biographies of local politicians and army officers.
Moreover, because he is not an historian of the slave experience, the editor uses dated sources for important topics such as the slave community, Nat Turner, slave psychology, hired slave workers in tobacco factories, slave songs, slave workers in Confederate armies, etc. Professor Shifflett also makes some questionable assertions. The description of Turner’s revolt as “infamous” (p. 5) seems a little incongruous for the editor of a slave narrative. Washington’s recollections do not demonstrate “gloating” over freedom, but rather how fundamental such a condition was to him and no doubt to others like him (p. 75). The editor might be right that “Many slaves did believe that Union soldiers were ‘devils’ come to devour them and their children” (p. 44), but where is the supporting evidence? Moreover, Professor Shifflett’s lack of familiarity with a rich historiography means that he misses some obvious points. Some recent historians’ emphasis on work as being the central experience of slavery is challenged by Washington’s memoir because work merits occasional rather than constant comment. Washington’s “first great Sorrow” was witnessing the domestic slave trade with “Men, Women and children and all Marched off to be Sold South, away from all that was near and dear to them” (p. 11). His vivid recollection of such cruel familial separations resembles those of elderly former slaves in Virginia interviewed during the 1930s who also never forgot those times. These memories also cast serious doubt on the reach of paternalist relations into former slaves’ lives argued in the editor’s first book.
These latter points highlight the edition’s greatest drawback. Washington is individualized when his life story reveals so much more about the collective nature of enslavement and the struggle for freedom. For instance, his repeated comments regarding slaves escaping to Union lines gets some comment from the editor but require much more serious treatment of this vital component of freedom’s experience during the Civil War. Instead, Washington is constantly pushed back into his locality rather than that locality being drawn upon as a means to engage the broader experience of slaves and freedom struggles.
About the same time that Washington joined invading Union troops in 1862, black men began to join Union armies throughout occupied parts of the American South. After the passage of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in January and the creation of the Bureau of Colored Troops in May 1863, free blacks and slaves enlisted en masse. By the end of the American Civil War, around 179,000 black men had served in the Union army and about 18,000 in the Union navy.
The first chroniclers of these black soldiers were contemporary abolitionists. They not only praised their valiant exploits, but they rarely missed an opportunity to link blacks’ military service with the path to citizenship. Freedom’s first generation pursued this linkage through the first scholarly treatments of black troops in William Wells Brown’s The Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity (1867), George Washington Williams’ A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (1888), and Joseph T. Wilson’s The Black Phalanx: A History of the Negro Soldiers of the United States in the Wars of 1775-1812 and 1861-65 (1888). Outside of the quietude of the library, black veterans kept their deeds alive through local commemorative meetings as well as the establishment of black militia companies in the U.S. South. While rusty swords were hung up, the pen scribbled as veterans published memoirs praising the courage and resolution of black troops. Christian Fleetwood’s The Negro as a Soldier (1895), James Shaw’s Our Last Campaign (1905), and Memoirs of Freeman S. Bowley (1906) all deliberately celebrated the national service of black troops at a time when black men were losing their civil rights through Southern states’ disfranchisement policies and the establishment of segregated and unequal public services. These fin de siècle memoirs used the past to challenge contemporary iniquities. Many of them are accessible in microfilm alongside John Washington’s slave narrative at the Library of Congress.
Over the last several decades, there has been a serious scholarly effort to reevaluate the role of black troops during the American Civil War. The major contributors include Dudley Taylor Cornish, Joseph T. Glatthar, Edwin S. Redkey, Noah Andre Trudeau, Keith Wilson, and members of the Freedmen’s Southern Society Project led by editor-in-chief Ira Berlin. Their work has helped us understand black troops’ military contributions, wartime experiences, nascent struggles for civil equality, and constructions of masculinity. This revisionism has also taken more public forms. In 1989, Edward Zeick’s film Glory dramatized the 54th Massachusetts Infantry regiment to great critical acclaim. A decade later, a monument memorializing the USCT was unveiled on U Street in Washington DC. In short, black troops are now at the very center of the military exploits of the American Civil War.
Enter Richard Reid, associate professor of history at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. The previous editor of a regional study on nineteenth-century Canada, Dr. Reid surprisingly provides the first state study of African American soldiers in the Union army. Union army incursions into the eastern part of North Carolina by early 1862 unsettled the institution of slavery and encouraged many slaves to seek out federal lines. Once Washington realized that fugitive slaves constituted a very powerful military weapon in their war against secessionist states, black regiments were authorized. Dr. Reid provides a very readable narrative of this process. Nearly six thousand mostly rural slaves between the ages of eighteen and twenty-eight were organized into four regiments. The 1st North Carolina Colored Volunteers, 2nd North Carolina Colored Volunteers, 3rd North Carolina Colored Volunteers, and 1st North Carolina Colored Heavy Artillery were subsequently turned into the 35th, 36th, and 37th Colored Infantry and the 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery respectively, and represented the state between 1863 and 1866. White officers from Massachusetts led them because thirteen white regiments served in North Carolina after the Union invasion, the Bay State’s governor John Andrew supported the use of black troops, and white soldiers saw an opportunity for fast-track promotion. These regiments provide the basis for the structure of Freedom for Themselves. The first chapter covers the organization and training of these four black regiments. The following four chapters provide narrative accounts of each regiment, emphasizing their mobilization, combat operations, fatigue duties, Reconstruction service, and demobilization. The last three chapters focus on the civilian experience of these black soldiers, especially the wartime experiences of their families, their service in the postwar South, and their experience as veterans in a defeated region, a point often lost in discussions of triumphant black troops returning to Northern states. The attention to communities off the battlefield is an important component of the new historiography on Civil War soldiers.
The book’s documentary sources are military records, roster lists, military description books, and morning reports located at the National Archives. Reid has unearthed some fine illustrations of black soldiers and veterans and white officers, while the bibliography lists major works on the USCT. It represents a serious research effort for a scholar who has not written on the topic before and is certainly to be recommended as a useful reading list on black troops for graduate students.
One of the major objectives of Freedom for Themselves is to narrate the “spectrum of black military experiences and changing white responses” (p. xiii), and it succeeds admirably. Thus, the 37th Colored Infantry was beset with organizational and operational difficulties unlike the 35th and 36th Colored Infantry regiments, while the 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery was never prepared for combat. The artillerymen served as a regulated labor force for which they received little acknowledgement, while the three infantry regiments battled and skirmished in South Carolina and Florida, winning great praise for their martial efforts. Demobilization differed for each regiment. The wartime experience of the families of black soldiers varied enormously. On the other hand, there were some significant similarities. The refugee camps were harsh places for soldiers’ families--just as refugee camps are today several months after Haiti’s devastating earthquake. Most black soldiers faced the usual military routine of tedium and fatigue duty, although they were probably doing more of the latter than white troops. Black veterans no doubt shared the belief that they had won freedom for themselves as well as comparable difficulties facing them in a defeated Southern state.
There are a few errors. The number of black sailors in the Union Navy was double Dr. Reid’s total of 9,500 (p. xii), while his claim of “dozens” of black soldiers murdered by Confederate troops at Fort Pillow in 1864 is a serious underestimate (p. 357). More important, the success of Freedom for Themselves raises a number of questions. Where do we go from here? Will more state and regimental histories round out our knowledge or just get us bogged down in more and more minute case studies? Does this study of 4 out of 179 USCT regiments mean that we now have 175 to go? Also, while the attention to Northern white engagement with Southern black slave soldiers and its transformation from skepticism to belief works well, less successful is Dr. Reid’s analysis of the interaction between Northern free black soldiers and Southern slave soldiers. This topic deserves much more attention because it gets at regional diversity, community formation, and questions of leadership often assumed rather than examined. Finally, what about the question of black soldiers who deserted their regiments? Dr. Reid touches on this point (pp. 166, 263, 274), but it deserves far more attention precisely because it provides a fundamental challenge to the hallmark of black troop historiography, namely loyal blacks in blue.
Moreover, for all its research and diversity, Dr. Reid’s work still rests on the unquestioned assumption that fugitive slaves had to be attracted to federal lines before they would fight against slavery. This ignores not only their resistance as slaves exemplified in Washington’s memoir, but also the revolutionary significance of their flight as self-emancipators en masse who made it clear to the Washington political and military establishment that their mass actions contained the key to victory over disunion. Professor Shifflett makes the same assumption in his comment that slaves and their families escaped to Union lines (p. 70). But as James Shaw, colonel of the 7th USCT, put it in his memoir Our Last Campaign: “The black man believed, long before we dreamed of it, that the war would result in his freedom.... If he could get away and join our forces he did so” (p. 31). Or in Washington’s words: “Day after day the Slaves came into camp and Every where that the ‘Stars and Stripes’ Waved they seemed to know freedom had dawned to the Slave” (p. 65).
The slave narrative and black troop histories epitomize intellectual production during the nineteenth century. To those of us who research and publish on nineteenth-century black life, it seems a little strange that this was ever in question. Putting aside the pro-black propaganda of many abolitionists, even defenders of Southern slavery were in little doubt about the impact of the black pen. How else to explain Southern legislatures’ banning of David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World during the 1830s; the implementation of the gag rule from 1837 onward tabling any proposals to discuss the issue of slavery, including those emanating from black citizens; and restrictions on the dissemination of slave narratives and black newspapers in the region during the final antebellum years? Despite their vehement opposition, these defenders of the Southern faith were rarely stupid enough to believe that such works were exclusively the work of white Northern abolitionists and outside agitators.
If you ask those interested in the development of black history, or to be more precise the changing nature of black historians practicing history, they will usually come up with one of two narratives. The first is that there was little serious black history until the 1960s when the Black Freedom Movement forced the study of the past from the streets into the universities, libraries, schools, and professional organizations. The alternative view is that black history emerged from the pioneering scholarly and institutional efforts of W. E. B. Du Bois and Carter G. Woodson, its founding fathers.
There are those, however, who have taken a more careful look at the development of black historical production. These include John Hope Franklin, August Meir and Elliot Rudwick, for whom George Washington Williams’s two-volume History of the Negro Race (1883) made him the father of modern black history, especially during the moment of the professionalization of American history. A year later, for instance, saw the establishment of the American Historical Association. A very different approach is that offered by John Ernest’s Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, 1794-1861 (2004), in which the author draws upon a variety of written sources, public commemorations, and popular memories to provide a much more labile understanding of the origins of black history. For Dr. Ernest, “liberation historiography is a mode of historical investigation devoted to praxis, a dynamic process of action and reflection, of historical discovery in the service of ongoing and concrete systemic reform” (p. 18).
Dr. Stephen G. Hall, an assistant professor of history at Ohio State University, characterizes the first approaches as modernist and the second as postmodernist. He rejects the former because it ignores so much black intellectual production from the nineteenth century. He is more in sympathy with the latter, but insists on the importance of the written word and textual production as critical indicators of black intellectual competence. In this vein, Dr. Hall’s adherence to the black historical text and literate production is reminiscent of those scholars of the Underground Railroad who insist that letters, pamphlets, and written messages were more important in its implementation than secret signs in quilts, unwritten verbal codes, and various mysterious paraphernalia popular among some students of slave runaways.
A Faithful Account of the Race seeks to explain the “origins, meanings, methods, evolution, and maturation” (p. 3) of black historical writing from its inception in the early nineteenth century through its professionalization in the early twentieth century. Dr. Hall’s major conceptual approach is what he calls “intellectual culture.” Black intellectuals drew upon cultural survivals and protest culture but their “intellectual weaponry” was the jeremiad, the Bible, classicism, Romanticism, realism, scientism, and objectivity to wage war on negative racial stereotypes (p. 234). For Dr. Hall, this armory not only indicates a rich intellectual tradition worthy of examination and understanding in its own terms, but needs evaluation within its own historical specificity because too many past commentators have dismissed it as a-historical based upon “modernist ideas of what constitutes history” (p. 231).
Although A Faithful Account of the Race draws upon archival materials, black newspapers, and numerous secondary sources on nineteenth-century African American, Southern, and U.S. history, its primary documentary base is black history texts written during the nineteenth century. These provide the beginning and ending of the overall chronology of the book: Jacob Oson’s A Search for Truth (1817) through the establishment of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in 1916. The six chapters are each bracketed by black history texts: thus, chapter 4 covers the years 1863 to 1882, beginning with William Wells Brown’s The Black Man (1863) and concluding with Joseph Wilson’s Emancipation: Its Course and Progress (1882). Despite differences of emphasis, as well as changing historical conditions, each chapter is primarily concerned with the social milieu and textual analysis. Thus, James Pennington’s 1841 Textbook of the Origin and History of the Colored People is examined for its didactic usage of biblical genealogy, ancient history, and modern scholarship, while George Washington Williams’s History of the Negro Race (1883) with its charts and tables reflects a much more scientific and statistical approach toward the past, with an emphasis on progress.
This is a fine first book by Dr. Hall. It is persuasively argued and succeeds in enhancing our understanding of the development of early black history. It is clearly organized: the chronological approach gives the reader a sense of the changing nature of black historical practice. It is also well written. Most important, its subject of nineteenth-century black history texts is thoroughly researched. It reflects, if the intellectual historian does not mind, the author’s heart and soul.
There are, however, some problems. Factual errors abound. The first name of the author of Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920 (1993) is Evelyn, not Elizabeth (p. 314). The Dutch abolished colonial slavery in 1863, not before 1850 (p. 153). Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was first published in 1776, not 1738 (p. 74). The massacre of black troops at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, occurred in 1864, not 1863 (p. 135). Christophe would have had a hard time ruling southern Haiti in the 1820s because he committed suicide in 1820 (p. 33). There are debatable interpretations. Commemorative cultural events were not “spontaneous” affairs (p. 229). This is why I titled my last book Rites of August First. To describe the brilliant Afro-Atlantic modernist intellectual C. L. R. James as only an “historian” seems a trifle reductionist (p. 113). Important history texts are overlooked. Osborne P. Anderson, John Brown’s fellow conspirator in 1859, wrote A Voice from Harper’s Ferry, published in 1861. This first official history of Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry gets no mention. Can one seriously discuss Hampton Institute and ignore the work of its historian Robert F. Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893 (1999) or refer to African American emigration to Haiti and not engage Chris Dixon’s African America: Emigration and Black Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century (2000)? I note these problems only because they detract from an otherwise admirable book.
My most serious reservation about A Faithful Account of the Race is the incongruity between its textual analysis and the broader public sphere. On page 11, we read: “What I suggest throughout this study is that the black public sphere ... is deeply informed by American and European intellectual life, and people of color throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries viewed themselves in terms articulated by David Walker, as ‘citizens of the world.’” I agree but cannot help noting several ways in which such universality is not pursued. Take Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, for instance. This work has been thoroughly examined by Sterling Stuckey through to Peter Hinks and deservedly so. Dr. Hall offers little that is new in his comments on the text. The more serious problem, however, is that in simply focusing upon the history in the text in the desire to make Walker into an historian of ideas, he ignores the more vital and profound public importance of the work. That was its independent production by Walker, its dissemination by sailors in Southern ports, and its legislative banning in Southern states. None of these points are new, of course, but by replacing them with textual analysis, Hall downplays the “black public sphere.”
Second, Dr. Hall does a fine job of fleshing out William Still’s The Underground Railroad (1872) and its self-production, dissemination, and reception (pp. 137-49). Its success made this reviewer want more of the same in the analysis of other texts as a way to document how black intellectuals engaged in an emerging free-market print culture. Third, there are several places where Dr. Hall refers to black writers publishing on black history in the newspapers (Hampton Institute teacher Anne Scoville’s articles in the Southern Workman, p. 206), but these are rarely systematically explored. Indeed, there is a whole new project here investigating the nineteenth-century press for articles, essays, and documents on black history by both black and white, U.S. and other, scholars. Fourth, Drs. Du Bois, Woodson, and Wesley all wrote doctorates on subjects beyond race: anti-slave trade laws; West Virginia’s secession; and, American labor. Yet all ended up writing faithful accounts of the race. This fascinating transformation is never explained in Dr. Hall’s concluding chapters.
Finally, the second and third chapters virtually ignore some of the most important historical production by African Americans from the 1830s through 1860s. I am referring to West Indian Emancipation speeches delivered annually every August First to both commemorate British colonial abolition as well as to mobilize for the abolition of American slavery. Many of these orations were subsequently reproduced either in abolitionist newspapers or as separate pamphlets. Robert Banks, a West Indian clothier in Detroit, Michigan, spoke at such an event on August 1, 1839. He reviewed the history of both the English slave trade as well as anti-slave trade opposition. “We must not sleep at our post,” he told the assembly, “and wait for our friends to carry on the work alone, but must apply our own shoulder to the wheel.” “Let this day,” and its heroes Granville Sharpe, William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, William Pitt, and Charles Fox, “live in our memories and in the memories of our children.” The speech was subsequently published. Banks’s address reveals several things. The shift from pamphlets to books was not quite as marked as Dr. Hall would suggest. These orations are a rich source of uninvestigated historical references. The link between past and present clearly implies a usable past. Perhaps most remarkable of all, these speeches reflect black thinkers constructing a teleology of British history in the United States! The fact that they were often overly optimistic about British freedoms should not detract from the importance of their intellectual endeavors. These are only some of the more pronounced ways in which to really get at the connection between early historical production and the public sphere. I respectfully suggest that research in such areas might prove more efficacious than Dr. Hall’s concluding call for more institutional and biographical studies for African American historiography.
Where do we go from here? I think these three works suggest several directions. First, we should digitalize. Washington’s slave narrative should be added to the excellent slave narrative Web site at the University of North Carolina, while some of the early black history texts examined by Dr. Hall should be part of a new Web site. Second, the light complexion of John Washington together with that of 25 percent of the sergeants of the 35th Colored Infantry (and perhaps even some of Dr. Hall’s black historians) requires more investigation into how white privilege could cross the color line. Third, we should expand the temporal and spatial dimensions of slaves, soldiers, and scholars. What about early black histories produced in the English-speaking Atlantic world from Canada through to the Caribbean? Even though it is not sufficiently explored for the tastes of this reviewer, the focus on the universal history of early black scholars is very suggestive as a means to pursue a transnational type of thinking. What similarities and differences existed between slave soldiers during the American Civil War and slave soldiers during other military struggles over slavery in Haiti, Latin America, and Cuba? Finally, I think we should never underestimate the radical tendencies of these slaves, soldiers, and scholars. John Washington and North Carolina black troops were revolutionaries because they self-emancipated and sought to destroy the institution of slavery, a process that took Washington (the place) much longer to fathom. Black scholars were not simply practicing various forms of intellectual endeavor armed with moral truth. They sought to challenge the very epistemology upon which existing intellectual traditions rested, especially historiography. We can lose sight of these social and political challenges from the cloistered corridors of the academy on the hill.
. Crandall A. Shifflett, Patronage and Poverty in the Tobacco South: Louisa County, Virginia, 1860-1900 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1982), and Coal Towns: Life, Work, and Culture in Company Towns of Southern Appalachia, 1880-1960 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991).
. Ira Berlin and Phillip D. Morgan, eds., Cultivation and Culture: Labor and the Shaping of Slave Life in the Americas (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1993).
.Charles L. Purdue, Thomas E. Barden, Robert K. Phillips, eds., Weevils in the Wheat: Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves, (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976).
. Shifflett, Patronage and Poverty.
.David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001); and Gregory Mixon, “Black Southern State Militias, 1865-1910,” manuscript in progress.
. Richard M. Reid, ed., The Upper Ottawa Valley to 1855 (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1990).
. J. R. Kerr-Ritchie, Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007).
. Sterling Stuckey, Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Peter P. Hinks, ed., David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000).
. Robert Banks, “An Oration, Delivered at a Celebration in Detroit, of the Abolition of Slavery in the West Indies, Held by Colored Americans, August 1st, 1839” (Detroit: Harsha and Bates, 1839): 1-15.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: https://networks.h-net.org/h-civwar.
Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie. Review of Hall, Stephen G., A Faithful Account of the Race: African American Historical Writing in Nineteenth-Century America and
Reid, Richard M., Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina's Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era and
Shifflett, Crandall A., ed., John Washington's Civil War: A Slave Narrative.
H-CivWar, H-Net Reviews.
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