Tag: slavery

Studio portrait of Julia Dent Grant seated.

Julia Dent Grant’s Personal Memoirs as a Plantation Narrative

Julia Dent Grant holds the unique distinction of being the first in a line of distinguished First Ladies to have written a memoir. Following the death of her husband Ulysses S. Grant in 1885, Julia Grant began contemplating the idea of telling her own life story and sharing insights into ...
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Multi-screen images of actor portraying Frederick Douglass in a dark exhibition space.

Isaac Julien’s “Lessons of the Hour” and the Many Visions of Frederick Douglass

Hired out to the brutal Edward Covey, a young Frederick Douglass worked to exhaustion during the week and spent Sundays “in a sort of beast-like stupor, between sleep and wake, under some large tree,” alternating between flashes of “energetic freedom” and “mourning,” he wrote in his Narrative. Beyond the woods, ...
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Announcing “Race, Politics, and Justice”

Uprisings prompted by recent police killings of Black people, like all incidents of racist violence and anti-racist protest, must be understood in the context of their present moment. People also rightly turn to history to understand how we arrived here. The Civil War Era was a critical moment in the ...
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Popularizing Proslavery: John Van Evrie and the Mass Marketing of Proslavery Ideology

Popularizing Proslavery: John Van Evrie and the Mass Marketing of Proslavery Ideology

Let’s start with a quiz. 1: What are zygomatic arches? 2: Who, exactly, was Amunoph IV? 3: What are the key similarities and differences between the Esquimaux Dog (C. familiaris, Desm.) and the Hare-Indian Dog (C. familiaris lagopus)? These questions are drawn from references made in one of nineteenth-century America’s ...
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Interpreting Slavery Through Video Games: The Story of <i>Freedom!</i>

Interpreting Slavery Through Video Games: The Story of Freedom!

As a child of the 1990s, some of my earliest memories revolve around playing PC video games. Whether connecting to the dial-up modem to play a racing game with my grandfather or walking with my classmates to the school computer lab, video games sparked my curiosity and provided countless hours ...
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Tracing Black Mothers’ Love: Reconstruction-Era Reunification and DH Possibilities

Tracing Black Mothers’ Love: Reconstruction-Era Reunification and DH Possibilities

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the importance of digital humanities (DH) projects and accessible digital tools for those locked out of traditional archival repositories.  The recent and expanding democratization of archival materials, moreover, has introduced new possibilities for researching African American reunification efforts as an embodied application of Civil War ...
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Missouri Compromised: Anti-Slavery Protest During the Missouri Statehood Debate

Missouri Compromised: Anti-Slavery Protest During the Missouri Statehood Debate

In his book On Compromise and Rotten Compromises, the philosopher Avishai Margalit argues that "we should be judged by our compromises more than by our ideals and norms. Ideals may tell us something important about what we would like to be. But compromises tell us who we are."[1] The essence ...
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Removing Slavery from Westward Expansion: Two Case Studies of Public Memorials in Missouri

Removing Slavery from Westward Expansion: Two Case Studies of Public Memorials in Missouri

The town of Marthasville, Missouri, is located about forty-five miles west of St. Louis. The oldest town in Warren County, Marthasville today is a quiet place with fertile farmland, a lakeside resort, and numerous wineries. Although I have lived in Missouri most of my life, I had never been to ...
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As The Churches Go, So Goes the Nation?:  Evangelical Schism and American Fears on the Eve of the Civil War

As The Churches Go, So Goes the Nation?: Evangelical Schism and American Fears on the Eve of the Civil War

On April 26, 2019, the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church (UMC) upheld the core components of a plan reaffirming and strengthening the church’s formal ban on the ordination of LGBTQ ministers and on the recognition of same-sex marriage.[1] This “Traditional Plan” was adopted at a special session of ...
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Mudsills vs. Chivalry

Mudsills vs. Chivalry

Writing home from Alabama in November 1863, an Ohio cavalryman celebrated the overthrow of the Southern aristocracy: “The mud sills of the North roam at will over the plantations, burn rails, forage on the country, and the negroes flock into our camps, leaving their lordly masters helpless and dependent,” he ...
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The Mystery of William Jones, An Enslaved Man Owned by Ulysses S. Grant

The Mystery of William Jones, An Enslaved Man Owned by Ulysses S. Grant

On March 29, 1859, Ulysses S. Grant went to the St. Louis Courthouse to attend to a pressing legal matter. That day Grant signed a manumission paper freeing William Jones, an enslaved African American man that he had previously acquired from his father-in-law, "Colonel" Frederick F. Dent. Described as being ...
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<i>Lincoln in the Bardo</i>

Lincoln in the Bardo

Our final review for this week's roundtable comes from Nina Silber, Professor of History and American Studies at Boston University. You can read all of the roundtable contributions by clicking on the links in the guest editor's introduction. In this imaginative and deeply moving book, George Saunders has re-envisioned the ...
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A New “Alternative” History: Ben Winters’s <i>Underground Airlines</i>

A New “Alternative” History: Ben Winters’s Underground Airlines

Because most are poorly-plotted, barely-disguised apologies for the Lost Cause, many historians have a low tolerance for “alternative histories” of the Civil War. Whether in the form of Confederate memorials like Silent Sam or Harry Turtledove novels, folks love to fantasize about what the United States would have been like if ...
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James McBride’s Reimagining of John Brown and His Legacy

James McBride’s Reimagining of John Brown and His Legacy

Below you will find the third review in our Civil War fiction roundtable, from Hilary Green, an associate professor at the University of Alabama. Previous and subsequent reviews in the series are available by following the links in the guest editor's introduction. The controversial figure of John Brown--and his connections ...
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Slavery and the Historical Imagination: A Review of Patrick Chamoiseau’s <i>Slave Old Man</i>

Slavery and the Historical Imagination: A Review of Patrick Chamoiseau’s Slave Old Man

Today's contribution to our fiction roundtable comes from Timothy J. Williams, assistant professor of history at the University of Oregon. You can read previous and subsequent entries by using the links here. In 1997, Patrick Chamoiseau, author of a dozen works about his native home of Martinique, published Slave Old Man ...
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Confederate Widow Confidential: Varina Tells (Almost!) All

Confederate Widow Confidential: Varina Tells (Almost!) All

Today we share the first post in our roundtable on recent Civil War fiction. The guest editor's introduction, by Sarah E. Gardner, includes links to all the posts and can be found here. The cover of Charles Frazier’s Varina: A Novel identifies its author as the “bestselling author of Cold ...
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