In Search of the Promised Land

In Search of the Promised Land : A Slave Family in the Old South

3.81 (59 ratings by Goodreads)
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The matriarch of a remarkable African-American family, Sally Thomas went from being a slave on a tobacco plantation, to a "virtually free" slave, who ran her own business and purchased one of her sons out of bondage. "In Search of the Promised Land" offers a vivid portrait of the extended Thomas-Rapier family and of the life of slaves before the Civil War. Based on family letters as well as an autobiography by one of Thomas's sons, this remarkable piece of detective work follows a singular group as they walk the boundary between slave and free, travelling across the country in search of a "promised land", where African-Americans would be treated with respect. Their record of these journeys provides a vivid picture of antebellum America, stretching from New Orleans to St. Louis, from the Overland Trail to the California Gold Rush, and from Civil War battles to steamboat adventures. John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger weave a compelling narrative that illuminates the larger themes of slavery and freedom.
To a remarkable degree, this small family experienced the full gamut of slavery, witnessing everything from the breakup of slave families, brutal punishment, and runaways, to miscegenation, insurrection panics, and slave patrols. They also illuminate the hidden lives of " virtually free" slaves, who maintained close relationships with whites, maneuvered within the system, and gained a large measure of autonomy. The Thomas-Rapiers were keen observers of the human condition. Through the eyes of this exceptional family and the indomitable black woman who held them together, we witness aspects of human bondage otherwise hidden from view.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 127 x 172.7 x 22.9mm | 317.52g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Numerous halftones, some line drawings
  • 0195160878
  • 9780195160871

About John Hope Franklin

John Hope Franklin is Professor of History Emeritus at Duke University and the author of numerous books, including From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans and Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation (co-authored with Loren Schweninger). One of the most revered historians at work today, he is past president of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Southern Historical Association. Loren Schweninger is Elizabeth Rosenthal Excellence Professor and Director of the Race and Slavery Petitions Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of Black Property Owners in the South, 1790-1915.
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Review quote

The authors argue that this 'highly unusual family' illuminates relatively unexplored aspects of Southern history, and they tell its story elegantly. New York Times Book Review This is a distinguished contribution to American history and social sciences. Highly recommended to both public and academic libraries. Edward G. McCormack, Library Journal
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Rating details

59 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 31% (18)
4 31% (18)
3 29% (17)
2 10% (6)
1 0% (0)
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