A Slave No More, David W. Blight

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One Response to “A Slave No More, David W. Blight”

  1. Maren N-T Says:

    In “A Slave No More,” David Blight tells the unique narratives of escaped slaves John Washington and Wallace Turnage. Washington was able to escape slavery by using his lifestyle as a “city slave” to gain literacy. After being passed down through several different owners, he finally found one who gave him much more freedom than was common for the time – even among city slaves. He then used this to get himself an apprenticeship, and eventually a job. Eventually, he joined the Union Army as a cook, and found protection and a safe escape. After a while, Washington was re-united with his family and continued to live in the north as a freed slave. Turnage, though from a very different background on a plantation, also was able to escape slavery and find refuge in the union army. However, as a plantation slave, Turnage was under much stricter rules, and in an extreme power struggle with his overseer. This, and several failed escape attempts in the past, caused him be under even stricter watch than the rest of the slaves. However, one lucky night, Turnage was able to escape, and found security as a soldier in the Union Army. Midway through the book, I wondered, will Washington really be able to live happily with his family, as a freed slave, so close to where battles were going on, and not be pulled back into war? The answer to this was yes – although he still faced many struggles as an ex-slave at the bottom of the urban African American working class during the Civil War. The purpose of Blight’s work was to give deeper perspectives on the lives of not just slaves while they were oppressed by their owners, but also on their lives after they escaped, and the challenges they still faced afterwards, living in what Blight calls “the bottom rungs of the emerging black working class in Civil War America.” I would recommend this book because it gives interesting details beyond simply the commonly known horrors of slavery, and how it followed ex – slaves even after they gained freedom.

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