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.
Freedom National is a groundbreaking history of emancipation that joins the political initiatives of Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress with the courageous actions of Union soldiers and runaway slaves in the South. It shatters the widespread conviction that the Civil War was first and foremost a war to restore the Union and only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. These two aims—"Liberty and Union, one and inseparable"—were intertwined in Republican policy from the very start of the war.
By summer 1861 the federal government invoked military authority to begin freeing slaves, immediately and without slaveholder compensation, as they fled to Union lines in the disloyal South. In the loyal Border States the Republicans tried coaxing officials into gradual abolition with promises of compensation and the colonization abroad of freed blacks. James Oakes shows that Lincoln’s landmark 1863 proclamation marked neither the beginning nor the end of emancipation: it triggered a more aggressive phase of military emancipation, sending Union soldiers onto plantations to entice slaves away and enlist the men in the army. But slavery proved deeply entrenched, with slaveholders determined to re-enslave freedmen left behind the shifting Union lines. Lincoln feared that the war could end in Union victory with slavery still intact. The Thirteenth Amendment that so succinctly abolished slavery was no formality: it was the final act in a saga of immense war, social upheaval, and determined political leadership.
Fresh and compelling, this magisterial history offers a new understanding of the death of slavery and the rebirth of a nation.
Eric Foner's "masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history" (New Republic) redefined how the post-Civil War period was viewed.
Reconstruction chronicles the way in which Americans—black and white—responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. It addresses the ways in which the emancipated slaves' quest for economic autonomy and equal citizenship shaped the political agenda of Reconstruction; the remodeling of Southern society and the place of planters, merchants, and small farmers within it; the evolution of racial attitudes and patterns of race relations; and the emergence of a national state possessing vastly expanded authority and committed, for a time, to the principle of equal rights for all Americans.
This "smart book of enormous strengths" (Boston Globe) remains the standard work on the wrenching post-Civil War period—an era whose legacy still reverberates in the United States today.
Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex–Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert their new rights, killed more than sixty African Americans who had occupied a courthouse. With skill and tenacity, The Washington Post's Charles Lane transforms this nearly forgotten incident into a riveting historical saga.
Seeking justice for the slain, one brave U.S. attorney, James Beckwith, risked his life and career to investigate and punish the perpetrators—but they all went free. What followed was a series of courtroom dramas that culminated at the Supreme Court, where the justices' verdict compromised the victories of the Civil War and left Southern blacks at the mercy of violent whites for generations. The Day Freedom Died is an electrifying piece of historical detective work that captures a gallery of characters from presidents to townspeople, and re-creates the bloody days of Reconstruction, when the often brutal struggle for equality moved from the battlefield into communities across the nation.
"History," wrote James Baldwin, "does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do."
Rarely has Baldwin's insight been more forcefully confirmed than during the past few decades. History has become a matter of public controversy, as Americans clash over such things as museum presentations, the flying of the Confederate flag, or reparations for slavery. So whose history is being written? Who owns it?
In Who Owns History?, Eric Foner proposes his answer to these and other questions about the historian's relationship to the world of the past and future. He reconsiders his own earlier ideas and those of the pathbreaking Richard Hofstadter. He also examines international changes during the past two decades--globalization, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa--and their effects on historical consciousness. He concludes with considerations of the enduring, but often misunderstood, legacies of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. This is a provocative, even controversial, study of the reasons we care about history--or should.
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 issues of Reconstruction--civil rights, states' rights and federal-state relations, racism, nationalism, government aid to individuals--continue to be relevant today, and the literature on Reconstruction is large. This book provides a systematic and comprehensive bibliographic guide to that literature. It is organized by topics and geographical regions and states, thereby emphasizing the local diversity in the South. In addition to a variety of literature, it covers the relevant Supreme Court cases through 1883, provides full citations to federal acts and cases cited, and includes the texts of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. The book will be useful to scholars and students researching a wide range of topics in Southern history, constitutional history, and national politics in post Civil War United States.
This new Princeton Classics edition marks the fiftieth anniversary of the book's initial publication and includes a new preface by the author.
This epic work—named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times—tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson’s death in 1826.
In three conceptually wide-ranging and provocative essays, the authors assess the meaning of freedom for enslaved and free Americans in the decades before and after the Civil War. They ask important and challenging questions: How did slaves and freedpeople respond to the promise and reality of emancipation? How committed were white southerners to the principle of racial subjugation? And in what ways can we best interpret the actions of enslaved and free Americans during slavery and Reconstruction? Collectively, these essays offer fresh approaches to questions of local political power, the determinants of individual choices, and the discourse that shaped and defined the history of black freedom.
Written by three prominent historians of the period, Slavery’s Ghost forces readers to think critically about the way we study the past, the depth of racial prejudice, and how African Americans won and lost their freedom in nineteenth-century America.
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Unlike most histories, this book does not remove the author from the analysis. Rather, it lays bare the working methods of the historian. Throughout his tale, Bednarski skillfully weaves a second narrative about how historians "do" history, highlighting the rewards and pitfalls of working with primary sources.
The book opens with a chapter on microhistory as a genre and explains its strengths, weaknesses, and inherent risks. Next is a narrative of Margarida's criminal trial, followed by chapters on the civil suits and appeal and Margarida's eventual fate. The book features a rough copy of a court notary, a notorial act, and a sample of a criminal inquest record in the original Latin. A timeline of Margarida's life, list of characters, and two family trees provide useful information on key people in the story. A map of late medieval Manosque is also provided.
From that celebration, this book was born. Collected here under one cover is a brief history of America told through dramatic readings applauding the enduring spirit of dissent.
Here in their own words, and interwoven with commentary by Zinn, are Columbus on the Arawaks; Plough Jogger, a farmer and participant in Shays' Rebellion; Harriet Hanson, a Lowell mill worker; Frederick Douglass; Mark Twain; Mother Jones; Emma Goldman; Helen Keller; Eugene V. Debs; Langston Hughes; Genova Johnson Dollinger on a sit-down strike at General Motors in Flint, Michigan; an interrogation from a 1953 HUAC hearing; Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper and member of the Freedom Democratic Party; Malcolm X; and James Lawrence Harrington, a Gulf War resister, among others.
The American Yawp is a free, online, collaboratively built American history textbook. Over 300 historians joined together to create the book they wanted for their own students—an accessible, synthetic narrative that reflects the best of recent historical scholarship and provides a jumping-off point for discussions in the U.S. history classroom and beyond.
Long before Whitman and long after, Americans have sung something collectively amid the deafening roar of their many individual voices. The Yawp highlights the dynamism and conflict inherent in the history of the United States, while also looking for the common threads that help us make sense of the past. Without losing sight of politics and power, The American Yawp incorporates transnational perspectives, integrates diverse voices, recovers narratives of resistance, and explores the complex process of cultural creation. It looks for America in crowded slave cabins, bustling markets, congested tenements, and marbled halls. It navigates between maternity wards, prisons, streets, bars, and boardrooms.
The fully peer-reviewed edition of The American Yawp will be available in two print volumes designed for the U.S. history survey. Volume II opens in the Gilded Age, before moving through the twentieth century as the country reckoned with economic crises, world wars, and social, cultural, and political upheaval at home. Bringing the narrative up to the present,The American Yawp enables students to ask their own questions about how the past informs the problems and opportunities we confront today.
The author provides over 60 primary sources organized into seven thematic units, each structured around an essential question from U.S. history. As students analyze carefully excerpted documents—speeches by presidents and protesters, Supreme Court cases, political cartoons—they build an understanding of how diverse historical figures have approached key issues. At the same time, students learn to participate in civic debates and develop their own views on what it means to be a 21st-century American. Each unit connects to current events and dynamic classroom activities make history come alive. In addition to the documents themselves, this teaching manual provides strategies to assess student learning; mini-lectures designed to introduce documents; activities to help students process, display, and integrate their learning; guidance to help teachers create their own units; and more.
“Full of thought-provoking questions, engaging primary source documents, and an impressive array of classroom activities, this is a must-have resource for history teachers looking to stay relevant in our modern learning landscape.”
—Diana Laufenberg, lead teacher and executive director, Inquiry Schools, Philadelphia, PA
“A useful resource for novice and experienced history teachers, social studies teacher educators, homeschooling, and community educators. I am excited to use it in my college classes; this is required reading!”
—LaGarrett King, University of Missouri
“A remarkably thoughtful and engaging aid to teaching U.S. history. Using carefully chosen primary documents, Metro raises pointed questions that will help teachers and students alike wrestle with the place of the past in the present.”
—Jill Lepore, Harvard University
Part One focuses on public history sources, and offers an overview of the creation, collection, management, and preservation of public history materials (archives, material culture, oral materials, or digital sources). Chapters cover sites and institutions such as archival repositories and museums, historic buildings and structures, and different practices such as collection management, preservation (archives, objects, sounds, moving images, buildings, sites, and landscape), oral history, and genealogy. Part Two deals with the different ways in which public historians can produce historical narratives through different media (including exhibitions, film, writing, and digital tools). The last part explores the challenges and ethical issues that public historians will encounter when working with different communities and institutions. Either in public history methods courses or as a resource for practicing public historians, this book lays the groundwork for making meaningful connections between historical sources and popular audiences.