Catalogue


Black Walden : slavery and its aftermath in Concord, Massachusetts /
Elise Lemire.
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2009.
description
232 p.
ISBN
0812241800 (alk. paper), 9780812241808 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2009.
isbn
0812241800 (alk. paper)
9780812241808 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
6858507
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [211]-220) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-03-01:
Slavery has haunted America since its settlement. For most, it is an evil practice that existed in the South until the Civil War struck it dead. This is not a historically accurate understanding. Slavery existed throughout America from the beginning. This small but important study shines light on Africans in Massachusetts as both slaves and freedmen. Using Concord as a case study, Lemire (Purchase College) first focuses on the slave owners, paying particular attention to John Cuming. The author makes clear that the owners were not benevolent slave masters. Like all slave owners, they saw their slaves as a productive piece of property and an always-present threat to the well-being of their families. Lemire next turns her attention to the life of the slaves after they had gained their independence. As with the slave owners, she focuses on a particular individual, Brister Freeman, a slave who became free. The life of Concord's Africans in and out of slavery was one of prejudice, submission, abandonment, poverty, and absence of earthly rewards. This well-written and researched work must be included in all academic collections and most public libraries. Summing Up: Essential. All public and academic libraries. J. J. Fox Jr. emeritus, Salem State College
Appeared in Library Journal on 2009-05-01:
Walden Pond in Concord, MA, is most famous as the place where Henry David Thoreau went to "live deliberately" and subsist on the land. Thoreau chose Walden in part because its shores, Walden Woods, were at one time home to freed Concord slaves and several generations of their children. Lemire (literature, SUNY at Purchase; Miscegenation: Making Race in America), a native of Concord, sets about to resurrect the memory of not only the freedmen and -women who dwelled there but also the history of slavery in Concord. The first half of the book focuses on the Concord slaveholders, in particular prominent slaveowner John Cuming. The second half focuses on their 32 slaves, particularly Brister Freeman, who was Cuming's slave and was then freed. Lemire's literature background helps her to bring alive these long-dead historical characters, and she deftly weaves excerpts from Thoreau's Walden throughout the narrative. Ultimately, Lemire conveys the idea that before Walden Pond was a "green space," it was, in fact, a "black space." Recommended for students of early American history and slavery studies, as well as New England readers interested in local history.-Jason Martin, Univ. of Central Florida Lib., Orlando (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"[B]reathtaking. . . . Lemire's meticulous and inspired archival research shows that 'Concord, Massachusetts, of all places, was a slave town.' . . . Imaginative and moral generosity, to both the black and the white eighteenth and early nineteenth century Concordians whose intimately entangled fortunes she chronicles, is a hallmark of her study. At the same time, Lemire is clear-eyed and clear-voiced about the facts and meanings of inter-racial Concord's 'long and brutal history.'"- American Literary History
"[B]reathtaking. . . . Lemire's meticulous and inspired archival research shows that 'Concord, Massachusetts, of all places, was a slave town.' . . . Imaginative and moral generosity, to both the black and the white eighteenth and early nineteenth century Concordians whose intimately entangled fortunes she chronicles, is a hallmark of her study. At the same time, Lemire is clear-eyed and clear-voiced about the facts and meanings of inter-racial Concord's 'long and brutal history.'"-- American Literary History
"Capturing the social texture of an eighteenth-century Massachusetts community, Black Walden is a useful contribution to studies of New England slavery, Massachusetts history, and African American life. . . . [O]ut of a short excerpt from Henry David Thoreau's Walden , Lemire has put together an engrossing portrait of slaveholders and the freed people in Concord."- Journal of African American History
"Capturing the social texture of an eighteenth-century Massachusetts community, Black Walden is a useful contribution to studies of New England slavery, Massachusetts history, and African American life. . . . [O]ut of a short excerpt from Henry David Thoreau's Walden , Lemire has put together an engrossing portrait of slaveholders and the freed people in Concord."-- Journal of African American History
Designated a "We the People" project by the National Endowment for the Humanities
"Elise Lemire has written an elegantly researched, deeply insightful, and eminently readable history of the embattled black families in New England's most celebrated town from the Revolutionary era to the heyday of the Transcendentalists. It is certain to be of the greatest interest not only to scholars across the entire interdiscipline of American studies but also to any and all readers interested in the tangled history of race in America."--Lawrence Buell, author ofNew England Literary Culture
"Elise Lemire has written an elegantly researched, deeply insightful, and eminently readable history of the embattled black families in New England's most celebrated town from the Revolutionary era to the heyday of the Transcendentalists. It is certain to be of the greatest interest not only to scholars across the entire interdiscipline of American studies but also to any and all readers interested in the tangled history of race in America."--Lawrence Buell, author of New England Literary Culture
"Elise Lemire has written an elegantly researched, deeply insightful, and eminently readable history of the embattled black families in New England's most celebrated town from the Revolutionary era to the heyday of the Transcendentalists. It is certain to be of the greatest interest not only to scholars across the entire interdiscipline of American studies but also to any and all readers interested in the tangled history of race in America."-Lawrence Buell, author of New England Literary Culture
"Lemire has genuinely enriched our understanding not only of the history of Concord but also of the country for which that fabled town still so often stands."- New England Quarterly
"Lemire has genuinely enriched our understanding not only of the history of Concord but also of the country for which that fabled town still so often stands."-- New England Quarterly
"Lemire has unearthed an astonishing amount of detailed information about more than a dozen African and African American slaves and the interconnected white families who built their fortunes and genteel reputations on their backs. . . . A beautifully written, fascinating, and challenging piece of historical detective work."--Joanne Pope Melish, Journal of the Civil War Era
"Lemire has unearthed an astonishing amount of detailed information about more than a dozen African and African American slaves and the interconnected white families who built their fortunes and genteel reputations on their backs. . . . A beautifully written, fascinating, and challenging piece of historical detective work."-Joanne Pope Melish, Journal of the Civil War Era
"Thanks to Lemire's ingenious research, such valiant figures as Brister Freeman and Cato Ingraham can claim their just place alongside the more famous Minutemen in the town that fired the 'shot heard 'round the world.'"--Robert Gross, author ofThe Minutemen and Their World
"Thanks to Lemire's ingenious research, such valiant figures as Brister Freeman and Cato Ingraham can claim their just place alongside the more famous Minutemen in the town that fired the 'shot heard 'round the world.'"--Robert Gross, author of The Minutemen and Their World
"Thanks to Lemire's ingenious research, such valiant figures as Brister Freeman and Cato Ingraham can claim their just place alongside the more famous Minutemen in the town that fired the 'shot heard 'round the world.'"-Robert Gross, author of The Minutemen and Their World
"This small but important study shines light on Africans in Massachusetts as both slaves and freeman. . . . The life of Concord's Africans in and out of slavery was one of prejudice, submission, abandonment, poverty, and absence of earthily rewards. . . . Essential."- Choice
"This small but important study shines light on Africans in Massachusetts as both slaves and freeman. . . . The life of Concord's Africans in and out of slavery was one of prejudice, submission, abandonment, poverty, and absence of earthily rewards. . . . Essential."-- Choice
"Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, is most famous as the place where Henry David Thoreau went to 'live deliberately' and subsist on the land. Lemire . . . sets about to resurrect the memory of not only the freedmen and -women who dwelled there but also the history of slavery in Concord. . . . Ultimately, Lemire conveys the idea that before Walden Pond was a 'green space,' it was, in fact, a 'black space.'"- Library Journal
"Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, is most famous as the place where Henry David Thoreau went to 'live deliberately' and subsist on the land. Lemire . . . sets about to resurrect the memory of not only the freedmen and -women who dwelled there but also the history of slavery in Concord. . . . Ultimately, Lemire conveys the idea that before Walden Pond was a 'green space,' it was, in fact, a 'black space.'"-- Library Journal
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, May 2009
Choice, March 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Concord, Massachusetts, has long been heralded as the birthplace of American liberty and American letters. It was here that the first military engagement of the Revolutionary War was fought and here that Thoreau came to "live deliberately" on the shores of Walden Pond. Between the Revolution and the settlement of the little cabin with the bean rows, however, Walden Woods was home to several generations of freed slaves and their children. Living on the fringes of society, they attempted to pursue lives of freedom, promised by the rhetoric of the Revolution, and yet withheld by the practice of racism. Thoreau was all but alone in his attempt "to conjure up the former occupants of these woods." Other than the chapter he devoted to them in Walden , the history of slavery in Concord has been all but forgotten. In Black Walden: Slavery and Its Aftermath in Concord, Massachusetts , Elise Lemire brings to life the former slaves of Walden Woods and the men and women who held them in bondage during the eighteenth century. After charting the rise of Concord slaveholder John Cuming, Black Walden follows the struggles of Cuming's slave, Brister, as he attempts to build a life for himself after thirty-five years of enslavement. Brister Freeman, as he came to call himself, and other of the town's slaves were able to leverage the political tensions that fueled the American Revolution and force their owners into relinquishing them. Once emancipated, however, the former slaves were permitted to squat on only the most remote and infertile places. Walden Woods was one of them. Here, Freeman and his neighbors farmed, spun linen, made baskets, told fortunes, and otherwise tried to survive in spite of poverty and harassment. Today Walden Woods is preserved as a place for visitors to commune with nature. Lemire, who grew up two miles from Walden Pond, reminds us that this was a black space before it was an internationally known green space. Black Walden preserves the legacy of the people who strove against all odds to overcome slavery and segregation.
Main Description
Concord, Massachusetts, has long been heralded as the birthplace of American liberty and American letters. It was here that the first military engagement of the Revolutionary War was fought and here that Thoreau came to "live deliberately" on the shores of Walden Pond. Between the Revolution and the settlement of the little cabin with the bean rows, however, Walden Woods was home to several generations of freed slaves and their children. Living on the fringes of society, they attempted to pursue lives of freedom, promised by the rhetoric of the Revolution, and yet withheld by the practice of racism. Thoreau was all but alone in his attempt "to conjure up the former occupants of these woods." Other than the chapter he devoted to them in Walden, the history of slavery in Concord has been forgotten. InBlack Walden: Slavery and Its Aftermath in Concord, Massachusetts, Elise Lemire brings to life the former slaves living in Walden Woods and the men and women who held them in bondage during the eighteenth century. After charting the rise of Concord slaveholder John Cuming,Black Waldenfollows the struggles of Cuming's slave, Brister, as he attempts to build a life for himself after thirty-five years of enslavement. Brister Freeman, as he came to call himself, and other of the town's slaves, were able to leverage the political tensions that fueled the American Revolution and force their owners into relinquishing them. Once emancipated, however, the former slaves were permitted to squat on only the most remote and infertile places. Walden Woods was one of them. Here, Freeman and his neighbors farmed, spun linen, made baskets, told fortunes, and otherwise tried to survive in spite of poverty and harassment. Today Walden Woods is preserved as a place for visitors to commune with nature. Lemire, who grew up two miles from Walden Pond, reminds us that this was a black space before it was an internationally known green space.Black Waldenpreserves the legacy of the people who strove against all odds to overcome slavery and segregation.
Table of Contents
Introduction The Memory of These Human Inhabitantsp. 1
Squire Cumingp. 15
The Codman Placep. 41
British Grenadiersp. 70
The Last of the Race Departedp. 91
Permission to Live in Walden Woodsp. 112
Little Gardens and Dwellingsp. 128
Concord Keeps Its Groundp. 151
Epilogue Brister Freeman's Hillp. 175
Dramatis Personaep. 177
Notesp. 183
Bibliographyp. 211
Indexp. 221
Acknowledgmentsp. 233
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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