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Death or Liberty

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  36 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews

In Death or Liberty, Douglas R. Egerton offers a sweeping chronicle of African American history stretching from Britain's 1763 victory in the Seven Years' War to the election of slaveholder Thomas Jefferson as president in 1800.
While American slavery is usually identified with the cotton plantations, Egerton shows that on the eve of the Revolution it encompassed everythi

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Published January 13th 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published December 1st 2008)
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David Nichols
That the American revolutionaries were inconsistent in their application of theory to practice was clearly evident in the case of slavery, an institution the rebels accused Britain of wanting to impose on them, but which they in turn inflicted on African slaves before, during, and after the Revolution. "How is it," Samuel Johnson consequently asked, "that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of negroes?"

In this 2009 monograph, Douglas Egerton does not dispute Johnson's underlyi
Feb 10, 2011 Vince rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well documented book. Lots of forgotten American history. The thousands of Americans of African descent who fought in the Revolutionary War thinking that the Declaration of Independence would lead to its natural conclusion and free there brethren. Thousands more joined the British when they were promised freedom from slavery if they fought for the King. Cheated and treated poorly by both sides it's a cautionary tale and if a few more politicians had shown any courage, slavery, after th ...more
Feb 13, 2011 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read it for a research project...
Had good tidbits of information but was awfully dry... but then again I'm not really a history reader, more of a historical fiction reader.

What really annoyed me was how poorly written it was. Egerton often wrote something and then repeated it almost word for word a paragraph or page latter, as if he forgot he said it already.

The title is witty, but there is nothing in this book that cannot be found in other books. I would suggest Wilkin's Jefferson's Pillow i
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Not really gripping. Basic point seems to be that Americans of the Revolutionary generation didn't live up to its rhetoric, at least in the matter of how they treated the suppliers of lifelong "unfree labor." (i.e., black people.)

One interesting note: in the northern states slavery seems to have been mostly an urban rather than a rural phenomenon.
Sep 13, 2015 ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to get through and a bit dry, but enlightening enough to make up for it. This book provides a lot of context for the situation people in places like Ferguson find themselves in.
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