Synopses & Reviews
Born into slavery in rural Louisiana, Rose Herera was bought and sold several times before being purchased by the De Hart family of New Orleans. Still a slave, she married and had children, who also became the property of the De Harts. But after Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862 during the American Civil War, Herera's owners fled to Havana, taking three of her small children with them. Beyond Freedom's Reach
is the true story of one woman's quest to rescue her children from bondage.
In a gripping, meticulously researched account, Adam Rothman lays bare the mayhem of emancipation during and after the Civil War. Just how far the rights of freed slaves extended was unclear to black and white people alike, and so when Mary De Hart returned to New Orleans in 1865 to visit friends, she was surprised to find herself taken into custody as a kidnapper. The case of Rose Herera's abducted children made its way through New Orleans' courts, igniting a custody battle that revealed the prospects and limits of justice during Reconstruction.
Rose Herera's perseverance brought her children's plight to the attention of members of the U.S. Senate and State Department, who turned a domestic conflict into an international scandal. Beyond Freedom's Reach is an unforgettable human drama and a poignant reflection on the tangled politics of slavery and the hazards faced by so many Americans on the hard road to freedom.
The extraordinary odyssey of Rose Herera to recover her kidnapped children from slavery illuminates the impact of the Civil War on the enslavers and the enslaved and reminds us of the precariousness of freedom during the Reconstruction era. An impressive and compelling history. Carol Wilson - Civil War Book Review
Amidst slavery's unraveling in New Orleans, Rose Herera fought to prevent her owner from taking her children to Havana, 'beyond freedom's reach.' Rothman's recovery of Herera's remarkable story, her incarceration and journey through the legal system to rescue her children, marks an important contribution to the history of emancipation and the contingency of wartime freedom. Randy J. Sparks, author of < i=""> Where the Negroes Are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Trade <>
[A] riveting narrative... Rothman's theme is the moral logic of slavery as embedded in law and social custom. Jason Berry
The book's major novelty is its focus on individual personal suffering as opposed to a typical slavery history which is concerned with the quantity of suffering... The informal and engaging tone succeeds in lending Beyond Freedom's Reach an accessibility to introduce non-specialists to the field of study, whilst aptly adding a human touch to an emotional subject. Daily Beast
Meticulously researched, well-written and thoughtfully argued, this work should attract not only students of African-American history; those who study southern and Civil War history will enhance their knowledge of 1850-1860s Deep South culture. Michael Warren - LSE Review of Books
After Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862, Rose Herera's owners fled to Havana, taking her three children with them. Adam Rothman tells the story of Herera's quest to rescue her children from bondage after the war. As the kidnapping case made its way through the courts, it revealed the prospects and limits of justice during Reconstruction.
About the Author
Adam Rothman is Associate Professor of History, Georgetown University.