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A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipationby David Blight
Synopses & Reviews
Slave narratives, some of the most powerful records of our past, are extremely rare, with only fifty-five post–Civil War narratives surviving. A mere handful are first-person accounts by slaves who ran away and freed themselves. Now two newly uncovered narratives, and the biographies of the men who wrote them, join that exclusive group with the publication of A Slave No More, a major new addition to the canon of American history. Handed down through family and friends, these narratives tell gripping stories of escape: Through a combination of intelligence, daring, and sheer luck, the men reached the protection of the occupying Union troops. David W. Blight magnifies the drama and significance by prefacing the narratives with each man’s life history. Using a wealth of genealogical information, Blight has reconstructed their childhoods as sons of white slaveholders, their service as cooks and camp hands during the Civil War, and their climb to black working-class stability in the north, where they reunited their families. In the stories of Turnage and Washington, we find history at its most intimate, portals that offer a rich new answer to the question of how four million people moved from slavery to freedom. In A Slave No More, the untold stories of two ordinary men take their place at the heart of the American experience.
Slave narratives, some of the most powerful records of the past, are extremely rare, with only 55 post-Civil War narratives surviving. Now two newly uncovered narratives, and the biographies of the men who wrote them, join that exclusive group.
Slave narratives are extremely rare; very few are first-person accounts by slaves who freed themselves.Now two newly uncovered narratives, and the biographies of the men who wrote them, join that exclusive group.Wallace Turnage was a teenage field hand on an Alabama plantation, John Washington an urban slave in Virginia.They never met. But both saw opportunity in the chaos of the CivilWar, both escaped north, and both left remarkable accounts of their flights to freedom.
This book is more than their narratives: working from painstakingly acquired records and sources for the lives of heretofore unknown former slaves, the historian DavidW.
Blight has discovered and reconstructed their lives—from slave childhood to black working-class stability in the North.
These are the untold biographies of two ordinary men, but they are also new answers to how four million people moved from slavery to freedom. A Slave No More is a major addition to the canon of American history.
About the Author
PRAISE FOR A SLAVE NO MORE
Fascinating . . . gripping stories that speak to our understanding of the slave legacy and the meaning of the Civil War and Reconstruction.”—Boston Globe
Two remarkable lives, previously lost, emerge with startling clarity, largely through the words of the principal actors themselves.” —William Grimes, New York Times
[The] narratives are powerful and poignant and help to fill in the cracks of history in voices too rarely heard . . . Readers will . . . be powerfully grateful.” —Christian Science Monitor
By editing and elaborating upon these striking autobiographies, David Blight has done an inestimable service to historians.”—New York Review of Books
Table of Contents
The Rappahannock River 17
Mobile Bay 55
Unusual Evidence 90
The Logic and the Trump of Jubilee 128
Authors Note 163
John M. Washington, Memorys of the Past” 165
Wallace Turnage, Journal of Wallace Turnage” 213
Appendix: John Washington,
The Death of Our Little Johnnie” 259
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