History Books

The Black Church in the African-American Experience

By C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya

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The authors interviewed more than 1,800 black clergy in both rural and urban settings to determine how the seven mainline black denominations have contributed to and reacted to the social changes around them.

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Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans

By James Melvin Washington

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Beautiful words from slaves, writers, preachers, and theologians of color who sound out their faith in God's justice through poetry, prayers, hymns, and stories.

Slavery and the eclipse of the African Gods, 1760-1860 -- The crucible of the Anglo-African conscience, 1861-1893 -- The vale of tears, 1894-1919 -- The new Negro, 1920-1955 -- The Civil Rights ethos, 1956-1980 -- Postmodern African-American worlds, 1981-1994.

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Weevils in the Wheat: Interviews with Virginia Ex-slaves

By Charles L. Perdue

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Taken from the records of the Federal Writers' Project of the 1930s, these interviews with one-time Virginia slaves provide a clear window into what it was like to be enslaved in the antebellum American South.

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Thirty Years a Slave: From Bondage to Freedom: The Institution of Slavery As Seen on the Plantation and in the Home of the Planter

By Louis Hughes

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"Louis Hughes was born a slave in Virginia and at age 12 was sold away from his mother, whom he never saw again. After a few interim owners, he was sold to a wealthy slaveowner who had a home near Memphis and plantation nearby in Mississippi. Hughes lived there as a house servant until near the end of the Civil War, when he escaped to the Union lines and then, in a daring adventure with the paid help of two Union soldiers, returned to the plantation for his wife. The couple made their way to Canada and after the war to Chicago and Detroit, eventually settling in Milwaukee. There Hughes became relatively comfortable as a hotel attendant and as an entrepreneur laundry operator. Self-educated and eloquent, Hughes wrote and privately published his memoir in 1897."

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The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson's Boston

By Albert J. von Frank

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"Before 1854, most Northerners managed to ignore the distant unpleasantness of slavery. But that year an escaped Virginia slave, Anthony Burns, was captured and brought to trial in Boston--and never again could Northerners look the other way. This is the story of Burns's trial and of how, arising in abolitionist Boston just as the incendiary Kansas-Nebraska Act took effect, it revolutionized the moral and political climate in Massachusetts and sent shock waves through the nation.

"In a searching cultural analysis, Albert J. von Frank draws us into the drama and the consequences of the case. He introduces the individuals who contended over the fate of the barely literate twenty-year-old runaway slave--figures as famous as Richard Henry Dana Jr., the defense attorney, as colorful as Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Bronson Alcott, who led a mob against the courthouse where Burns was held, and as intriguing as Moncure Conway, the Virginia-born abolitionist who spied on Burns's master.

"The story is one of desperate acts, even murder--a special deputy slain at the courthouse door--but it is also steeped in ideas. Von Frank links the deeds and rhetoric surrounding the Burns case to New England Transcendentalism, principally that of Ralph Waldo Emerson. His book is thus also a study of how ideas relate to social change, exemplified in the art and expression of Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Theodore Parker, Bronson Alcott, Walt Whitman, and others.

"Situated at a politically critical moment--with the Whig party collapsing and the Republican arising, with provocations and ever hotter rhetoric intensifying regional tensions--the case of Anthony Burns appears here as the most important fugitive slave case in American history. A stirring work of intellectual and cultural history, this book shows how the Burns affair brought slavery home to the people of Boston and brought the nation that much closer to the Civil War."

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"Negro President"--Jefferson and the Slave Power

By Garry Wills

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Wills argues that the U.S. Constitution's three-fifths clause for slave "representation" in Congress and the Electoral College gave slave holders the edge in winning most presidential elections, controlling the federal government, and maintaining slavery by throttling personal liberties.

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An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America

By Henry Wiencek

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"When George Washington wrote his will, he made the startling decision to set his slaves free; earlier he had said that holding slaves was his 'only unavoidable subject of regret.' In this groundbreaking work, Henry Wiencek explores the founding father's engagement with slavery at every stage of his life--as a Virginia planter, soldier, politician, president, and statesman. Washington was born and raised among blacks and mixed-race people; he and his wife had blood ties to the slave community.

"Yet as a young man he bought and sold slaves without scruple, even raffled off children to collect debts (an incident ignored by earlier biographers). Then, on the Revolutionary battlefields where he commanded both black and white troops, Washington's attitudes began to change."

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The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory

By Scot French

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Rather than presenting a traditional account of the slave rebellion that Turner led, French (African-American studies, U. of Virginia) traces the continuing discourse on race, slavery, America's tradition of revolutionary violence, and what to do with Turner's remains since his hanging in 1831.

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We Were Always Free: The Maddens of Culpeper County, Virginia: A Two-Hundred-Year Family History

By T.O. Madden, Jr., with Ann L. Miller

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Ever since 1758, when Sarah Madden was born to an unmarried Irish woman and an unknown black father, the Maddens have been free, escaping--and sometimes defying--the laws and customs that condemned other African Americans to slavery in their native state of Virginia.

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