Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War

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Ira Berlin, Barbara Jeanne Fields, Steven F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, Leslie S. Rowland
New Press, 1992 - History - 571 pages
"Free at Last" brings together some of the most remarkable letters ever written by Americans. Made affordable and widely available for the first time, these letters, along with personal testimony, official transcripts, and other records, are drawn from the award-winning landmark reference volumes originally published by Cambridge University Press under the title "Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation."

With great immediacy, the letters depict the drama of emancipation in the midst of the nation's bloodiest conflict, and convey the struggle of black men and women to overthrow the slave system, to aid the Union cause as laborers and soldiers, and to give meaning to their newly won freedom in a war-torn nation. The documents also show the active role of slaves and former slaves in transforming a war for the Union into a war against slavery, demonstrating, according to the "Journal of American History," "that the destruction of slavery was accomplished through black self-determination." Perhaps most importantly, the documents vividly demonstrate how emancipation transformed the lives of all Americans, black and white.

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Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War

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Drawn from letters, affidavits, records, and other documents collected by The Freedmen and Southern Society Project, Free at Last gives voice to compelling observations about slavery written by both ... Read full review

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About the author (1992)

Ira Berlin was born in New York City on May 27, 1941. He received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry in 1963, a master's degree in history in 1966, and a Ph.D. in history in 1970, all from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and Federal City College in Washington before becoming a professor at the University of Maryland in 1974. He wrote numerous books including Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, and The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States. He also edited several books including Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation with Marc Favreau and Steven F. Miller. He died from complications of multiple myeloma on June 5, 2018 at the age of 77.

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