Sunday, February 2, 2020

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

Few Americans today, black or white have heard of the Christian Recorder newspaper. However, for African Americans, particularly those from the Free States, it served as a way of receiving news on how the United States Colored Troops (USCT) were faring in the Civil War. Soldiers and others associated with the USCTs wrote in regularly giving reports. One of those who wrote often was Henry McNeal Turner who helped recruit the 1st United States Colored Infantry and served as its chaplain. Freedom's Witness: The Civil War Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner has distilled his contributions to the Christian Recorder and provided them for us to read. Edited by Jean Lee Cole, this book is sure to be an excellent and insightful read.

I've had Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union by Daniel W. Crofts on my book wishlist since it was published by UNC Press about four years ago. I recently found an inexpensive but well-kept used copy and snatched it up. Everyone know the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States when it was finally ratified in December 1865, but few know a much different 13th Amendment was once proposed, The earlier one would have made slavery perpetual in the states that wanted it as a means of compromising on the issue that was splitting the country in 1861.

The Politics of Black Citizenship: Free African Americans in the Mid-Atlantic Borderland, 1817-1863 by Andrew K. Diemer focuses on the large antebellum free black populations of Baltimore and Philadelphia and the area between these urban locations to examine their struggles for acceptance as citizens. These areas provided thousands of USCT regiments during the Civil War, so I'm intrigued to learn some of the religious, social, and political organizations that helped motivate free blacks to serve in the United States military in effort to end slavery and gain citizenship rights and equality.

Examining the lives of Civil War veterans in the post-war years has almost turned into its own special area of study in recent years. Books like Brian Matthew Jordan's Marching Home, Donald R. Shaffer's After the Glory, Paul A. Cimbala's Veterans North and South, and others, are reshaping what we thought we knew about veterans after they came home and pulled off their blue and gray jackets. Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America by James Marten is sure to make an additional valuable contribution to this growing body of scholarship.

As my shallow knowledge of how North Carolina experienced the Civil War deepens, I'm always on the lookout for studies to help me learn even more. Driven from Home: North Carolina's Civil War Refugee Crisis by David Silkenat examines how five groups who were displaced by the tumult of the Civil War in the Old North State moved to find safety and life's necessities. Silkenat looks at white Unionists, pro-Confederate whites (both slaveholding and non-slaveholding), African Americans, and young women to forge this important study. It promises to be a good one!

As always, Happy Reading!

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