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I Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era

4.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  12 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
For a century and a half, Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation has been the dominant narrative of African American freedom in the Civil War era. However, David Williams suggests that this portrayal marginalizes the role that African American slaves played in freeing themselves. At the Civil War's outset, Lincoln made clear his intent was to save the U ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published March 2014 by Cambridge University Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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Jennifer Boyce
Mar 31, 2014 Jennifer Boyce rated it really liked it

This was a fascinating read; analyzing the impact that African Americans had on their own emancipation. This book is a technical, yet understandable read, allowing it to be comprehended by readers of variable skill levels.

This book gives a comprehensive analysis on the roles African Americans, enslaved or otherwise, played in obtaining their emancipation. It’s not an oft talked about fact that African Americans played a pivotal role in freeing themselves.
I Freed Myself is a great text for popular audiences who, unlike historians, haven't read much of the recent scholarship by Stephanie McCurry, Thavolia Glymph, etc. on what some call "the slaves' war" against their masters. Nevertheless, in light of recent focus devoted to the roles Lincoln (Eric Foner's The Fiery Trial), the Union Army (Chandra Manning's What This Cruel War Was Over and Gary Gallagher's The Union War), and congressional Republicans (James Oakes's Freedom National and "Reluctant ...more
Apr 12, 2014 Maxine rated it it was amazing
It is one of those common truisms of US history that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that Abraham Lincoln is to be universally lauded for his abolitionist spirit that led to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is, in fact, one of the defining moments in American history. However, according to author David Williams, this focus on the role Lincoln played in the war and emancipation is overstated and, worse, hides the crucial role that African Americans themselves played both ...more
Donna Davis
Williams is smoking hot when it comes to the role of African-Americans in the American Civil War. The overstatement that Lincoln freed the slaves rubs many of us, and his thesis that not only did the slaves largely set themselves free, but were pivotal to the Union’s ultimate victory, is a strong one.

In Marxist organizations, there is an expression for a political over-correction. It’s called “bending the stick too far back”. The idea is that you want the stick to be straight up, but sometimes
Trey Shipp
Mar 05, 2015 Trey Shipp rated it it was amazing
The role of slaves in their own emancipation isn’t part of the standard American story. It should be. This interesting book recounts heroic acts of slave escapes, revolts and military service. And as slaves grabbed freedom, Williams shows how they pushed a reluctant Lincoln and nation into ending slavery.

At the beginning of the Civil War, outside a small group of abolitionists, virtually no whites were ready to end slavery. Even Lincoln had been willing to pass a constitutional amendment guaran
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A professor of history at Valdosta State University, David Williams received his Ph.D. in history from Auburn University in 1988. The author of numerous articles on Georgia history, the Old South, Appalachia, and the Civil War, Williams is the author of Rich Man's War: Cla
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