An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington,, Part 3

Univ of North Carolina Press
1
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An Example for All the Land reveals Washington, D.C. as a laboratory for social policy in the era of emancipation and the Civil War. In this panoramic study, Kate Masur provides a nuanced account of African Americans' grassroots activism, municipal politics, and the U.S. Congress. She tells the provocative story of how black men's right to vote transformed local affairs, and how, in short order, city reformers made that right virtually meaningless. Bringing the question of equality to the forefront of Reconstruction scholarship, this widely praised study explores how concerns about public and private space, civilization, and dependency informed the period's debate over rights and citizenship.

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About the author

Kate Masur is assistant professor of history and African American studies at Northwestern University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of North Carolina Press
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Published on
Oct 4, 2010
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Pages
376
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ISBN
9780807899328
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
History / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Kentucky occupied an unusual position with regard to slavery during the Civil War as well as after. Since the state never seceded, the emancipation proclamation did not free the majority of Kentucky's slaves; in fact, Kentucky and Delaware were the only two states where legal slavery still existed when the thirteenth amendment was adopted by Congress. Despite its unique position, no historian before has attempted to tell the experience of blacks in the Commonwealth during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Victor B. Howard's Black Liberation in Kentucky fills this void in the history of slavery and emancipation. In doing so, however, he does not just chronicle the experiences of black Kentucky, because as he notes in his introduction, "such a work would distort the past as much as a book concerned solely with white people." Beginning with an overview of the situation before the war, Howard examines reactions to the emancipation proclamation and how the writ was executed in Kentucky. He also explores the role the army played, both during the war as freed black enlisted and after the war as former slaves transitioned to freedom.

The situation for former slaves in Kentucky was just as precarious as in other southern states, and Howard documents the challenges they faced from keeping families together to finding work. He also documents the early fights for civil rights in the state, detailing battles over the right to testify in court, black suffrage, and access to education. As Black Liberation in Kentucky shows, Kentucky's slaves fought for their freedom and rights from the beginning, refusing to continue in bondage and proving themselves accomplished actors destined to play a critical role in Civil War and Reconstruction.

The stirring history of a president and a capital city on the front lines of war and freedom.

In the late 1840s, Representative Abraham Lincoln resided at Mrs. Sprigg’s boardinghouse on Capitol Hill. Known as Abolition House, Mrs. Sprigg’s hosted lively dinner-table debates of antislavery politics by the congressional boarders. The unusually rapid turnover in the enslaved staff suggested that there were frequent escapes north to freedom from Abolition House, likely a cog in the underground railroad. These early years in Washington proved formative for Lincoln.

In 1861, now in the White House, Lincoln could gaze out his office window and see the Confederate flag flying across the Potomac. Washington, DC, sat on the front lines of the Civil War. Vulnerable and insecure, the capital was rife with Confederate sympathizers. On the crossroads of slavery and freedom, the city was a refuge for thousands of contraband and fugitive slaves. The Lincoln administration took strict measures to tighten security and established camps to provide food, shelter, and medical care for contrabands. In 1863, a Freedman’s Village rose on the grounds of the Lee estate, where the Confederate flag once flew.

The president and Mrs. Lincoln personally comforted the wounded troops who flooded wartime Washington. In 1862, Lincoln spent July 4 riding in a train of ambulances carrying casualties from the Peninsula Campaign to Washington hospitals. He saluted the “One-Legged Brigade” assembled outside the White House as “orators,” their wounds eloquent expressions of sacrifice and dedication. The administration built more than one hundred military hospitals to care for Union casualties.

These are among the unforgettable scenes in Lincoln’s Citadel, a fresh, absorbing narrative history of Lincoln’s leadership in Civil War Washington. Here is the vivid story of how the Lincoln administration met the immense challenges the war posed to the city, transforming a vulnerable capital into a bastion for the Union.

Originally published in 1942 and now reprinted for the first time, They Knew Lincoln is a classic in African American history and Lincoln studies. Part memoir and part history, the book is an account of John E. Washington's childhood among African Americans in Washington, DC, and of the black people who knew or encountered Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Washington recounted stories told by his grandmother's elderly friends--stories of escaping from slavery, meeting Lincoln in the Capitol, learning of the president's assassination, and hearing ghosts at Ford's Theatre. He also mined the US government archives and researched little-known figures in Lincoln's life, including William Johnson, who accompanied Lincoln from Springfield to Washington, and William Slade, the steward in Lincoln's White House. Washington was fascinated from childhood by the question of how much African Americans themselves had shaped Lincoln's views on slavery and race, and he believed Lincoln's Haitian-born barber, William de Fleurville, was a crucial influence. Washington also extensively researched Elizabeth Keckly, the dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln, and advanced a new theory of who helped her write her controversial book, Behind the Scenes, A new introduction by Kate Masur places Washington's book in its own context, explaining the contents of They Knew Lincoln in light of not only the era of emancipation and the Civil War, but also Washington's own times, when the nation's capital was a place of great opportunity and creativity for members of the African American elite. On publication, a reviewer noted that the "collection of Negro stories, memories, legends about Lincoln" seemed "to fill such an obvious gap in the material about Lincoln that one wonders why no one ever did it before." This edition brings it back to print for a twenty-first century readership that remains fascinated with Abraham Lincoln.
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