The Bone People: A Novel (Hardcover Reissue)

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Oceania on 2013-02-25 03:40Z by Steven

The Bone People: A Novel (Hardcover Reissue)

LSU Press
April 2005
464 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807130728

Keri Hulme

  • Winner of The Booker Prize
  • The Pegasus Prize for Literature
  • The New Zealand Book Award for Fiction

Integrating both Māori myth and New Zealand reality, The Bone People became the most successful novel in New Zealand publishing history when it appeared in 1984. Set on the South Island beaches of New Zealand, a harsh environment, the novel chronicles the complicated relationships between three emotional outcasts of mixed European and Māori heritage. Kerewin Holmes is a painter and a loner, convinced that “to care for anything is to invite disaster.” Her isolation is disrupted one day when a six-year-old mute boy, Simon, breaks into her house. The sole survivor of a mysterious shipwreck, Simon has been adopted by a widower Māori factory worker, Joe Gillayley, who is both tender and horribly brutal toward the boy. Through shifting points of view, the novel reveals each character’s thoughts and feelings as they struggle with the desire to connect and the fear of attachment.

Compared to the works of James Joyce in its use of indigenous language and portrayal of consciousness,The Bone People captures the soul of New Zealand. After twenty years, it continues to astonish and enrich readers around the world.

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Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-02-24 16:25Z by Steven

Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans

LSU Press
January 2013
336 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
13 halftones, 2 maps
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807150146

Emily Epstein Landau
Department of History
University of Maryland, College Park

From 1897 to 1917 the red-light district of Storyville commercialized and even thrived on New Orleans’s longstanding reputation for sin and sexual excess. This notorious neighborhood, located just outside of the French Quarter, hosted a diverse cast of characters who reflected the cultural milieu and complex social structure of turn-of-the-century New Orleans, a city infamous for both prostitution and interracial intimacy. In particular, Lulu White—a mixed-race prostitute and madam—created an image of herself and marketed it profitably to sell sex with light-skinned women to white men of means. In Spectacular Wickedness, Emily Epstein Landau examines the social history of this famed district within the cultural context of developing racial, sexual, and gender ideologies and practices.

Storyville’s founding was envisioned as a reform measure, an effort by the city’s business elite to curb and contain prostitution—namely, to segregate it. In 1890, the Louisiana legislature passed the Separate Car Act, which, when challenged by New Orleans’s Creoles of color, led to the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, constitutionally sanctioning the enactment of “separate but equal” laws. The concurrent partitioning of both prostitutes and blacks worked only to reinforce Storyville’s libidinous license and turned sex across the color line into a more lucrative commodity.

By looking at prostitution through the lens of patriarchy and demonstrating how gendered racial ideologies proved crucial to the remaking of southern society in the aftermath of the Civil War, Landau reveals how Storyville’s salacious and eccentric subculture played a significant role in the way New Orleans constructed itself during the New South era.

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Nella Larsen, Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance: A Woman’s Life Unveiled

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs on 2012-05-13 02:49Z by Steven

Nella Larsen, Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance: A Woman’s Life Unveiled

Louisiana State University Press
1994
496 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
12 halftones
Paperback ISBN: 9780807120705

Thadious M. Davis, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought; Professor of English
University of Pennsylvania

Nella Larsen (1891–1964) is recognized as one of the most influential, and certainly one of the most enigmatic, writers of the Harlem Renaissance. With the instant success of her two novels, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929), she became a bright light in New York’s literary firmament. But her meteoric rise was followed by a surprising fall: In 1930 she was accused of plagiarizing a short story, and soon thereafter she disappeared from both the literary and African American worlds of New York. She lived the rest of her life—more than three decades—out of the public eye, working primarily as a nurse. In a remarkable achievement, Thadious Davis has penetrated the fog of mystery that has surrounded Larsen to present a detailed and fascinating account of the life and work of this gifted, determined, yet vulnerable artist. Davis deftly situates the writer within the broader politics and aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance and analyzes her life and work in terms of the current literature on race and gender.

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Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, History, Louisiana, United States on 2012-04-04 20:37Z by Steven

Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization

LSU Press
September 1992
352 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780807117743

Edited by:

Arnold R. Hirsch, University Research Professor of History
University of New Orleans

Joseph Logsdon

This collection of six original essays explores the peculiar ethnic composition and history of New Orleans, which the authors persuasively argue is unique among American cities. The focus of Creole New Orleans is on the development of a colonial Franco-African culture in the city, the ways that culture was influenced by the arrival of later immigrants, and the processes that led to the eventual dominance of the Anglo-American community.

Essays in the book’s first section focus not only on the formation of the curiously blended Franco-African culture but also on how that culture, once established, resisted change and allowed New Orleans to develop along French and African creole lines until the early nineteenth century. Jerah Johnson explores the motives and objectives of Louisiana’s French founders, giving that issue the most searching analysis it has yet received. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, in her account of the origins of New Orleans’ free black population, offers a new approach to the early history of Africans in colonial Louisiana.

The second part of the book focuses on the challenge of incorporating New Orleans into the United States. As Paul F. LaChance points out, the French immigrants who arrived after the Louisiana Purchase slowed the Americanization process by preserving the city’s creole culture. Joesph Tregle then presents a clear, concise account of the clash that occurred between white creoles and the many white Americans who during the 1800s migrated to the city. His analysis demonstrates how race finally brought an accommodation between the white creole and American leaders.

The third section centers on the evolution of the city’s race relations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Joseph Logsdon and Caryn Cossé Bell begin by tracing the ethno-cultural fault line that divided black Americans and creole through Reconstruction and the emergence of Jim Crow. Arnold R. Hirsch pursues the themes discerned by Logsdon and Bell from the turn of the century to the 1980s, examining the transformation of the city’s racial politics.

Collectively, these essays fill a major void in Louisiana history while making a significant contribution to the history of urbanization, ethnicity, and race relations. The book will serve as a cornerstone for future study of the history of New Orleans.

Table of Contents

  • Part I: The French and African Founders
    • Introduction
    • 1. Colonial New Orleans: A Fragment of the Eighteenth-Century French Ethos; Jerah Hohnson
    • 2. The Formation of Afro-Creole Culture; Gwendolyn Midlo Hall
  • Part II: The American Challenge
    • Introduction
    • 3. The Foreign French; Paul F. Lachance
    • 4. Creoles and Americans; Joseph G. Tregle, Jr.
  • Part III: Franco-Africans and African Americans
    • Introduction
    • 5. The Americanization of Black New Orleans, 1850-1900; Joseph Logsdon and Caryn Cossé Bell
    • 6. Simply a Matter of Black and White: The Transformation of Race and Politics in Twentieth-Century New Orleans; Arnold R. Hirsch
  • Contributors
  • Index
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A More Noble Cause: A. P. Tureaud and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Louisiana

Posted in Biography, Books, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2011-12-25 18:30Z by Steven

A More Noble Cause: A. P. Tureaud and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Louisiana

Louisiana State University Press
April 2011
328 pages
6 x 9 inches, 21 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807137932

Alexander P. Tureaud, Jr.

Rachel L. Emanuel

Throughout the decades-long legal battle to end segregation, discrimination, and disfranchisement, attorney Alexander Pierre Tureaud was one of the most influential figures in Louisiana’s courts. A More Noble Cause presents both the powerful story of one man’s lifelong battle for racial justice and the very personal biography of a black professional and his family in the Jim Crow-era Louisiana.

During a career that spanned more than forty years, A. P. Tureaud was at times the only regularly practicing black attorney in Louisiana. From his base in New Orleans, the civil rights pioneer fought successfully to obtain equal pay for Louisiana’s black teachers, to desegregate public accommodations, schools, and buses, and for voting rights of qualified black residents.

Tureaud’s work, along with that of dozens of other African American lawyers, formed part of a larger legal battle that eventually overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized racial segregation. This intimate account, based on more than twenty years of research into the attorney’s astounding legal and civil rights career as well as his community work, offers the first full-length study of Tureaud. An active organizer of civic and voting leagues, a leader in the NAACP, a national advocate of the Knights of Peter Claver—a fraternal order of black Catholics—and a respected political power broker and social force as a Democrat and member of the Autocrat Club and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Tureaud worked tirelessly within the state and for all those without equal rights.

Both an engrossing story of a key legal, political, and community figure during Jim Crow-era Louisiana and a revealing look at his personal life during a tumultuous time in American history, A More Noble Cause provides insight into Tureaud’s public struggles and personal triumphs, offering readers a candid account of a remarkable champion of racial equality.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Underestimated and Misperceived
  • 2. Of Creole Heritage
  • 3. Educating Alex
  • 4. Southern Exodus
  • 5. Preparing for a Legal Career
  • 6. Return to New Orleans
  • 7. Meeting Lucille
  • 8. Growing Community Involvement
  • 9. The War Years
  • 10. NAACP Lawyer
  • 11. Law and Fatherhood
  • 12. “Separate but Equal” Strengthened in the Face of Desegregation
  • 13. Desegregation of Primary and Secondary Schools
  • 14. The Politician
  • 15. Desegregation Battles after Brown
  • 16. Enforcing Brown’s Mandate in New Orleans Grade Schools
  • 17. Catholics and Desegregation
  • 18. More to the Desegregation Mandate
  • 19. Reconstructing Public Education
  • 20. More Direct Action
  • 21. Courts Are the Way
  • 22. Race against Time
  • Notes
  • Index

Underestimated and Misperceived

He sat in that chair day after day, reflecting on his life as he spoke haltingly into the tape recorder. He was a man whose erect bearing had once projected calm assurance and deep human insight and whose physique had once reflected his lifetime enjoyment of the rich Creole cuisine of New Orleans.

He looked much older than his seventy-three years, and a casual visitor might have thought that his lack of movement and energy reflected a mental exhaustion as well. Despite the fact that he was now gaunt and barely had enough strength to rise from a chair without assistance, he refused to give in to the constant pain that increasing doses of medication could not relieve. As he ruminated over his life, he recalled names, dates, places, and events with unerring accuracy.

The depth of knowledge and perseverance the old man exhibited seemed implausible for one in his condition. But then his entire life had been one impossible challenge after another. Through sheer will, he had changed the face of Louisiana forever. He had helped to stifle rampant segregation through a series of historic lawsuits. He had altered attitudes and conquered adversity with a disarming but unyielding demeanor. The wizened old man in the chair did not look as if he had done any of those things. But then Alexander Pierre Tureaud had been consistently underestimated and was often misperceived by others.

Knocking on the doors of houses in the Faubourg Marigny of New Orleans, whose owners awaited their early morning deliveries of French bread and other baked goods, Alexander Pierre (“Alex”) Tureaud, nine years old, cheerfully greeted the customers as he delivered purchases to their doorstep. The white woman who managed the neighborhood store where he worked assumed, when hiring the curly-haired boy, that he was white.

When the owner of the store later discovered that Alex was a Negro, he instructed the manager to fire him. It did not matter that Alex did a good job, was conscientious, punctual, polite, and liked by the customers. In fact, the store manager paid him a little extra each week, called “lagniappe” by Creoles, because she was more than satisfied with his performance. Following the directive of the owner, the manager fired Alex, and the boy’s initial opportunity to earn his own money was taken away because of racial discrimination.

A wide-eyed, hopeful young Creole experienced his first painful rejection as a colored person during the early 1900s in the segregated South. The wages from the part-time job, though only $1 a week, enabled him to contribute to his family’s meager household income and allowed him to have his own spending money.

Years later, Alexander P. Tureaud greeted two white men with a collegial tip of his hat as he walked by them and entered the courthouse. “Seen that nigger lawyer, yet?” one ol the men asked. Realizing that the man was addressing him, Tureaud shook his head, chuckled to himself, and proceeded up the steps without a second glance in their direction. As he entered the building, he overheard the man’s next remark: “We’re gonna have some fun with that nigger today.” It was then that Tureaud realized that these men were his opposing counsel.

Instead of being angered by their racist comments, Tureaud was amused. Their off-the-cuff statements would create a psychological advantage when he confronted them later in court. Tlieir remarks served to fuel his enthusiasm for the legal battle ahead.

Once inside the courtroom, the two white lawyers could not conceal their surprise when Tureaud introduced himself as the attorney for the plaintiffs and smiled respectfully at the opposing counsel. Tureaud had been mistaken as white many times before, and he knew he could use it to advance his objectives…

…Born three years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which declared racial segregation the law of the land, Tureaud, in addition to his legal career, became a student of history. lie was particularly inquisitive about his lineage as a New Orleans Creole of color.

The desire to fight racial injustice had been set long ago in the Creole culture of Louisiana. Tureaud found within his culture role models of activism and aligned himself with men and women determined to achieve equality. Pride in his heritage taught him that it is more noble to fight injustice, no matter what, than to resign oneself to it…

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Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2011-04-24 17:27Z by Steven

Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color

Louisiana State University Press
August 2000
344 pages
Trim: 6 x 9 , Illustrations: 14 halftones
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-2601-1

Edited by:

Sybil Kein (born Consuela Marie Moore), Distinguished Professor of English Emerita
University of Michigan

The word Creole evokes a richness rivaled only by the term’s widespread misunderstanding. Now both aspects of this unique people and culture are given thorough, illuminating scrutiny in Creole, a comprehensive, multidisciplinary history of Louisiana’s Creole population. Written by scholars, many of Creole descent, the volume wrangles with the stuff of legend and conjecture while fostering an appreciation for the Creole contribution to the American mosaic.

The collection opens with a historically relevant perspective found in Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson’s 1916 piece “People of Color of Louisiana” and continues with contemporary writings: Joan M. Martin on the history of quadroon balls; Michel Fabre and Creole expatriates in France; Barbara Rosendale Duggal with a debiased view of Marie Laveau; Fehintola Mosadomi and the downtrodden roots of Creole grammar; Anthony G. Barthelemy on skin color and racism as an American legacy; Caroline Senter on Reconstruction poets of political vision; and much more. Violet Harrington Bryan, Lester Sullivan, Jennifer DeVere Brody, Sybil Kein, Mary Gehman, Arthé A. Anthony, and Mary L. Morton offer excellent commentary on topics that range from the lifestyles of free women of color in the nineteenth century to the Afro-Caribbean links to Creole cooking.

By exploring the vibrant yet marginalized culture of the Creole people across time, Creole goes far in diminishing past and present stereotypes of this exuberant segment of our society. A study that necessarily embraces issues of gender, race and color, class, and nationalism, it speaks to the tensions of an increasingly ethnically mixed mainstream America.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • I HISTORY
    • 1 People of Color in Louisiana – Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
    • 2 Marcus Christian’s Treatment of Les Gens de Couloir Libre – Violet Harrington Bryan
    • 3 Plaçage and the Louisiana Gens de Couleur Libre: How Race and Sex Defined the Lifestyles of Free Women of Color – Joan M. Martin
    • 4 Composers of Color of Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The History Behind the Music – Lester Sullivan
    • 5 The Yankee Hugging the Creole: Reading Dion Boucicault’s The OctoroonJennifer DeVere Brody
    • 6 The Use of Louisiana Creole in Southern Literature – Sybil Kein
  • II LEGACY
    • 7 Marie Laveau: The Voodoo Queen Repossessed – Barbara Rosendale Duggal
    • 8 New Orleans Creole Expatriates in France: Romance and Reality – Michel Fabre
    • 9 Visible Means of Support: Businesses, Professions, and Trades of Free People of Color – Mary Gehman
    • 10 The Origin of Louisiana Creole – Fehintola Mosadomi
    • 11 Louisiana Creole Food Culture: Afro-Caribbean Links – Sybil Kein
    • 12 Light, Bright, Damn Near White: Race, the Politics of Genealogy, and the Strange Case of Susie GuilloryAnthony G. Barthelemy
    • 13 Creole Poets on the Verge of a Nation – Caroline Senter
    • 14 “Lost Boundaries”: Racial Passing and Poverty in Segregated New Orleans – Arthé Anthony
    • 15 Creole Culture in the Poetry of Sybil Kein – Mary L. Morton
  • Contributors
  • Index
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The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1865–1920

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2011-04-24 01:55Z by Steven

The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1865–1920

Louisiana State University Press
2004
282 pages
6 x 9, 27 Halftones, 2 Maps
paper ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-3112-1

Alecia P. Long, Assistant Professor of History
Louisiana State University

With a well-earned reputation for tolerance of both prostitution and miscegenation, New Orleans became known as the Great Southern Babylon in antebellum times. Following the Civil War, a profound alteration in social and economic conditions gradually reshaped the city’s sexual culture and erotic commerce. Historian Alecia P. Long traces sex in the Crescent City over fifty years, drawing from Louisiana Supreme Court case testimony to relate intriguing tales of people both obscure and famous whose relationships and actions exemplify the era.

Long uncovers a connection between the geographical segregation of prostitution and the rising tide of racial segregation. She offers a compelling explanation of how New Orleans’s lucrative sex trade drew tourists from the Bible Belt and beyond even as a nationwide trend toward the commercialization of sex emerged. And she dispels the romanticized smoke and perfume surrounding Storyville to reveal in the reasons for its rise and fall a fascinating corner of southern history. The Great Southern Babylon portrays the complex mosaic of race, gender, sexuality, social class, and commerce in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New Orleans.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1 “It’s Because You Are a Colored Woman” Sex, Race, and Concubinage after the Civil War
  • 2 The Business of Pleasure: Concert Saloons and Sexual Commerce in the Economic Mainstream
  • 3 “Where the Least Harm Can Result”: Sex, Race, and Respectability in a Single Neighborhood
  • 4 “Unusual Situations and Remarkable People”: Mary Deubler, Respectability, and the History of Storyville
  • 5 “As Rare as White Blackbirds”: Willie Piazza, Race, and Reform
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Biibliography
  • Index
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The Lives of Jean Toomer: A Hunger for Wholeness

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs on 2010-12-30 18:26Z by Steven

The Lives of Jean Toomer: A Hunger for Wholeness

Louisiana State University Press
1987
448 pages
6×9
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-1548-0

Cynthia Earl Kerman, Emeritus Professor of English
Villa Julie College in Stevenson, Maryland

Richard Eldridge

Jean Toomer (1894–1967) arrived on the American literary scene in 1923 with the publication of Cane, a small, emotional book about southern blacks that is often seen as marking the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance. But Toomer was much more than a fiction writer and poet dedicated to the pursuit of art. He was also a disciple and teacher of Georges Gurdjieff’s spiritual-mental-physical system for achieving wholeness, and later a religious leader among Quakers. The many “lives” that Jean Toomer led are unfolded in this comprehensive and fascinating biography by Cynthia Earl Kerman and Richard Eldridge.

The authors describe Toomer’s childhood and youth, tracing the influence of his grandfather, P.B.S. Pinchback, his peculiar isolation as a child even amid family and friends, the shock of his mother’s death, his removal to the home of his grandparents, and his erratic ventures from there into formal and informal education. They tell the story of Toomer’s sudden entry into, and as sudden exit from, the active literary world of New York in the early 1920s, and they follow Toomer’s reluctant but eventual total commitment to the mystical Gurdjieffan movement. Kerman and Eldridge devote considerable attention to Toomer’s subsequent involvement with Quakers in and around Philadelphia. They also consider the final fifteen years of Toomer’s life, when failing health and a diminished sense of achievement marked his withdrawal into a state of isolated invalidism.

Kerman and Eldridge are careful to place Toomer’s varied accomplishments in perspective. They seek to correct misapprehensions about Toomer’s position on race and offer a thorough treatment of his concept of the “universal man” as one beyond racial demarcation. They also look closely at Toomer’s penchant for mysticism. The authors find that Toomer’s intense need to be perfect and whole gave focus to the many passions he embraced throughout his life.

The Lives of Jean Toomer is enhanced by the authors’ extensive use of primary and secondary materials, particularly the voluminous Toomer papers, formerly at Fisk University and now at Yale, and by their interviews with various persons who knew Toomer. In style, content, and organization, in its depth as well as balance, The Lives of Jean Toomer is a model biography, a fitting tribute to an important but often misunderstood individual.

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Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom or The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery

Posted in Autobiography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2009-11-08 04:41Z by Steven

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom or The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery

Louisiana State University Press
Originally Published: 1860
Published by LSU Press: 1999
120 pages
Trim: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 5 halftones
ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-2320-1 Paper

William Craft

With a Foreword and Biographical Essay by

Richard J. M. Blackett,  Andrew Jackson Professor of History
Vanderbilt University

Husband and wife William and Ellen Craft’s [her mother was a slave and her father was her mother’s owner.] break from slavery in 1848 was perhaps the most extraordinary in American history. Numerous newspaper reports in the United States and abroad told of how the two—fair-skinned Ellen disguised as a white slave master and William posing as her servant—negotiated heart-pounding brushes with discovery while fleeing Macon, Georgia, for Philadelphia and eventually Boston. No account, though, conveyed the ingenuity, daring, good fortune, and love that characterized their flight for freedom better than the couple’s own version, published in 1860, a remarkable authorial accomplishment only twelve years beyond illiteracy. Now their stirring first-person narrative and Richard Blackett’s excellent interpretive pieces are brought together in one volume to tell the complete story of the Crafts.


Ellen Craft

Summary by Monique Pierce of Documenting The South:

Published in 1860, shortly before the start of the Civil War, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom is the narrative of William and Ellen Craft‘s escape from slavery. Both were born and grew up in Georgia, and they lived in Macon prior to their escape. In December 1848 they devised a plan in which Ellen Craft, who was very light- skinned, would dress as a man and pretend to be a rheumatic seeking better treatment in Philadelphia. William was to accompany her and act as her slave. Relying exclusively on means of public transportation, including trains and steamers, they made their way to Savannah, then to Charleston, Wilmington, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia, where they arrived on Christmas Day. They then relocated to Boston and sailed for England after the Fugitive Slave Law enabled slave hunters to pursue them even in free states. At the time this work was published, they were living in England with their sons. The narrative includes many anecdotes about slavery and freedom for Blacks and discusses how they were treated in both the South and the North.

Read the entire book in HTML format here.  You may also obtain it here.

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Bleeding Borders: Race, Gender, and Violence in Pre-Civil War Kansas

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2009-11-02 02:40Z by Steven

Bleeding Borders: Race, Gender, and Violence in Pre-Civil War Kansas

Louisiana State University Press
April 2009
224 pages
Series: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War
Illustrations: 5 halftones, 1 map
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-3390-3

Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel, Associate Professor of History
Millsaps College

In Bleeding Borders, Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel offers a fresh, multifaceted interpretation of the quintessential sectional conflict in pre-Civil War Kansas. Instead of focusing on the white, male politicians and settlers who vied for control of the Kansas territorial legislature, Oertel explores the crucial roles Native Americans, African Americans, and white women played in the literal and rhetorical battle between proslavery and antislavery settlers in the region. She brings attention to the local debates and the diverse peoples who participated in them during that contentious period.

Oertel begins by detailing the settlement of eastern Kansas by emigrant Indian tribes and explores their interaction with the growing number of white settlers in the region. She analyzes the attempts by southerners to plant slavery in Kansas and the ultimately successful resistance of slaves and abolitionists. Oertel then considers how crude frontier living conditions, Indian conflict, political upheaval, and sectional violence reshaped traditional Victorian gender roles in Kansas and explores women’s participation in the political and physical conflicts between proslavery and antislavery settlers.

Oertel goes on to examine northern and southern definitions of “true manhood” and how competing ideas of masculinity infused political and sectional tensions. She concludes with an analysis of miscegenation–not only how racial mixing between Indians, slaves, and whites influenced events in territorial Kansas, but more importantly, how the fear of miscegenation fueled both proslavery and antislavery arguments about the need for civil war.

As Oertel demonstrates, the players in Bleeding Kansas used weapons other than their Sharpes rifles and Bowie knives to wage war over the extension of slavery: they attacked each other’s cultural values and struggled to assert their political wills. They jealously guarded ideals of manhood, womanhood, and whiteness even as the presence of Indians and blacks and the debate over slavery raised serious questions about the efficacy of these principles. Oertel argues that ultimately, many Native Americans, blacks, and women shaped the political and cultural terrain in ways that ensured the destruction of slavery, but they, along with their white male counterparts, failed to defeat the resilient power of white supremacy.

Moving beyond a conventional political history of Kansas, Bleeding Borders breaks new ground by revealing how the struggles of this highly-diverse region contributed to the national move toward disunion and how the ideologies that governed race and gender relations were challenged as North, South, and West converged on the border between slavery and freedom.

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