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First Freedom, First Freedom, 0817355359, 0-8173-5535-9, 978-0-8173-5535-7, 9780817355357, , , First Freedom, 0817383336, 0-8173-8333-6, 978-0-8173-8333-6, 9780817383336,

First Freedom
The Responses of Alabama's Blacks to Emancipation and Reconstruction
by Peter Kolchin

Quality Paper
248 pp.
978-0-8173-5535-7
Price:  $24.95 s

Crucial changes occurred during the years following the Civil War as blacks manifested their desire to live as independently as possible and to reject every social relation reminiscent of slavery. This classic study of the history of post-slave societies helped to initiate historiographic trends that remain central to the study of emancipation.

Peter Kolchin is Henry Clay Reed Professor of History at the University of Delaware. His other works include A Sphinx on the American Land: The 19th Century South in Comparative Perspective, American Slavery: 1619-1877, and Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom.


“Kolchin has written a fresh and valuable study of black history. He is persuasive in suggesting that as far as blacks were concerned, ‘the new social order took shape and virtually all of the significant new developments of Reconstruction occurred in the immediate postwar years.’ [By] concentrating as much as possible on the black community itself rather than on the actions and attitudes of whites, he finds the principal development to have been [their] insistence ‘on behaving as they understood free men to behave.’ Convincing, well-buttressed arguments.”--The Journal of American History


“[In] this concise history of Alabama blacks in the Reconstruction era, author Peter Kolchin suggests that a review of the black response to freedom ‘casts light upon the previous history of Southern blacks and the nature of American slavery.’ Quite true: Kolchin’s judiciously proffered conclusions prove it. Especially good is Kolchin’s compassionate discussion of the plight of the deposed antebellum black elite . . . by describing class tensions that arose to complicate racial conflict. Kolchin  makes a special contribution to our understanding of the black community in a turbulent period.”--Journal of Southern History


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