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Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston (Gender and American Culture)by Amrita Chakrabarti Myers
Synopses & Reviews
For black women in antebellum Charleston, freedom was not a static legal category but a fragile and contingent experience. In this deeply researched social history, Amrita Chakrabarti Myers analyzes the ways in which black women in Charleston acquired, defined, and defended their own vision of freedom.
Drawing on legislative and judicial materials, probate data, tax lists, church records, family papers, and more, Myers creates detailed portraits of individual women while exploring how black female Charlestonians sought to create a fuller freedom by improving their financial, social, and legal standing. Examining both those who were officially manumitted and those who lived as free persons but lacked official documentation, Myers reveals that free black women filed lawsuits and petitions, acquired property (including slaves), entered into contracts, paid taxes, earned wages, attended schools, and formed familial alliances with wealthy and powerful men, black and white--all in an effort to solidify and expand their freedom. Never fully free, black women had to depend on their skills of negotiation in a society dedicated to upholding both slavery and patriarchy. Forging Freedom examines the many ways in which Charleston's black women crafted a freedom of their own design instead of accepting the limited existence imagined for them by white Southerners.
In this deeply researched social history, Myers analyzes the ways in which black women in Charleston acquired, defined, and defended their own vision of freedom. Drawing on legislative and judicial materials, probate data, tax lists, church records, family papers, and more, Myers creates detailed portraits of individual women while exploring how black female Charlestonians sought to create a fuller freedom by improving their financial, social, and legal standing.
"Amrita Chakrabarti Myers impressively captures and illuminates the tenuous security of black women's lives and freedom as they struggled for personal and familial stability and upward mobility in nineteenth-century Charleston. This book is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of black women's negotiated freedoms and will have a lasting influence in African American, emancipation, and slavery studies."--Leslie A. Schwalm, University of Iowa, author of Emancipation's Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest and A Hard Fight for We: Women's Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina
"Forging Freedom gives voice to a heretofore voiceless and largely forgotten group of free black women. Through the fascinating stories of their struggles for rights and dignity, Myers constructs a well-researched and vivid portrait of the methods black women used to negotiate their freedom and to determine their destiny as well as a more inclusive and accurate history of the city of Charleston during the antebellum era."--Janice L. Sumler-Edmond, Huston-Tillotson University, author of The Secret Trust of Aspasia Cruvellier Mirault: The Life and Trials of a Free Woman of Color in Antebellum Georgia
About the Author
Amrita Chakrabarti Myers is assistant professor of history at Indiana University-Bloomington.
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History and Social Science » African American Studies » General