After Slavery:
Race, Labor, and Citizenship in the Reconstruction South

Edited by Bruce E. Baker and Brian Kelly

Afterword by Eric Foner

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"Is there really anything new to say about Reconstruction? The excellent contributions to this volume make it clear that the answer is a resounding yes. Collectively these essays allow us to rethink the meanings of state and citizenship in the Reconstruction South, a deeply necessary task and a laudable advance on the existing historiography."--Alex Lichtenstein, Indiana University

In the popular imagination, freedom for African Americans is often assumed to have been granted and fully realized when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation or, at the very least, at the conclusion of the Civil War. In reality, the anxiety felt by newly freed slaves and their allies in the wake of the conflict illustrates a more complicated dynamic: the meaning of freedom was vigorously, often lethally, contested in the aftermath of the war.

After Slavery moves beyond broad generalizations concerning black life during Reconstruction in order to address the varied experiences of freed slaves across the South. Urban unrest in New Orleans and Wilmington, North Carolina, loyalty among former slave owners and slaves in Mississippi, armed insurrection along the Georgia coast, and racial violence throughout the region are just some of the topics examined.

The essays included here are selected from the best work created for the After Slavery Project, a transatlantic research collaboration. Combined, they offer a diversity of viewpoints on the key issues in Reconstruction historiography and a well-rounded portrait of the era.

Bruce E. Baker, lecturer on American history, Newcastle University, is the author of numerous books, including What Reconstruction Meant. Brian Kelly, director of the After Slavery Project and reader in the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast, is the author of Race, Class, and Power in the Alabama Coalfields, 1908-21.

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Highly recommended. -- Choice

Persuasively argues that many questions remain unanswered about this frequently misunderstood period in American history. . .a necessary and welcome contribution to the historiography of American Reconstruction. -- Southern Historian

This fine collection is highly recommended for scholars of emancipation and the postbellum South. -- Journal of American History

What the essays capture, more than anything else, is the indeterminate nature of, and connection between, the struggle over labor relations, the reconstitution of kinship and community, and the un-link between violence, class, and the postwar state....In all, the essays contained in After Slavery make for essential and compelling reading for anyone interested in new trends, questions, and methodologies in the study of Reconstruction. -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

A welcome book . . . [An] ambitiously conceived, admirably innovative collection. -- The Historian

Show[s] how black political activism almost invariably led to violence by white conservatives. . . . [and] depict[s] a diverse and courageous group of black communities during Reconstruction.-- North Carolina Historical Review

Represent[s] some of the most innovative work in the field of Reconstruction history. . . . An important book that all scholars of the Civil War and Reconstruction will need to engage. -- Louisiana History

The essays highlight how the Reconstruction era was truly a tumultuous period in which black self-determination, the plight of white yeoman farmers, labor radicalism of urban workers, and the desires of emasculated masters converged. . . . Will truly enhance both undergraduate and graduate courses on the legacy of emancipation, and, most importantly, they will spark new avenues of research for young scholars. -- Reviews in American History

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