Skip to Main Content

History Guides - Lafayette

Information

Electronic Resources

Selected Books - Reviews

  • Daniel Rasmussen published American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt in 2011 which looks at the revolt known as the German Coast Uprising. The name comes from the location where it occurred, which was near New Orleans. Taking place prior to the admittance of Louisiana to the United States, the area was one which faced much political and societal upheaval, where the concern of the military was often on outward situations. This led leaders to become complacent when it came to their perceived control within its borders, especially over those whom they ruled as masters. Rasmussen states in the Prologue that, up to the publishing of his book, "the longest published scholarly account [about the uprising] runs a mere twenty-four pages". Overall, the book does a good job of creating a map of who the people involved were, as well as how they fit into the society which surrounded New Orleans in 1811. He also points out connections which existed between slave owners, who were private individuals, and the military, which was a government entity, as they worked together to suppress slave revolt and dissent. These connections are used to show that the United States did more than simply allow slavery to exist within its borders, but that the government of the day sought to assist the economic leaders of the South in keeping those who were enslaved locked in bondage. It is an interesting read, and one which opens the floor for discussions about the way in which the United States handled clear calls for freedom and liberty by slaves, well before the Civil War forced the issue onto the national battlefield.
  • Written in 2019 by Matthew Clavin, The Battle of Negro Fort: The Rise and Fall of a Fugitive Slave Community looks at a community which had been born out of the War of 1812, when the British military, local Native Americans, and fugitive slaves joined together in their fight against the United States. Located in Spanish Florida, this was an area beyond the governmental control of the young republic. However, when the war ended in 1815, the British and their Indian allies withdrew, leaving the fort in the hands of the men and women who had escaped from slavery in both the United States and Spanish Florida. The mere presence of such a community created a problem for American slaveowners and those who were pro-slavery, as it offered a place of refuge for slaves who wished to find freedom that the new nation seemed determined to keep from them. The book does a good job of pointing out that there were many narratives which were created about the various aspects surrounding this situation, both before and after the attack. This refuge was very near the southern border of the United States, and, just as the Underground Railroad inspired many in the years to come, so too did this enclave. However, once the fort was destroyed, legal questions were raised as to whether it had been appropriate for the United States to enter another nation's territory on such a mission. Overall, the author does a good job of pointing out that the United States worked to keep the institution of slavery standing, even when men and women fled beyond its borders to escape from it. Our collective memory as a nation mustn't forget such things as fugitive slave communities and slave uprisings and revolts: they remind us that freedom was not had by all, no matter what our desires would have our history say.
  •  "What Shall We Do with the Negro?": Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America by Paul D. Escott was published in 2009. A decade later, America would find itself faced with the very point that this book makes: racism was not killed with slavery. While the title is uncomfortable, the question was one which many leaders asked during the days leading to the end of the Civil War. What would happen to the men and women who had been freed or were going to be freed from slavery, once the South was returned to the Union? Mr. Escott points out that, while many in the United States today view Lincoln as a benevolent and anti-slavery, anti-racist individual, the truth is much less agreeable. He was little different from many other men, especially men in highly placed leadership positions, of his era. His racism was as ingrained as that which was found in the rest of the nation. The book takes a significant amount of time breaking down elements of the slavery situation, including why so many ministers seemed to back it (although there were also a large number who felt very uncomfortable with the prevailing opinion of the time). This would be a good book for anyone trying to better understand the nature of the Civil War, as the author quotes from a variety of primary sources, both from the North and the South. Another benefit of the title is that is doesn't just look at attitudes during the Civil War, but also the opinions of those who are wondering what should be done when it comes to suffrage once the war is completed. It would also be a title of great value for anyone doing research on Lincoln or his policies, especially those surrounding emancipation and what reconstruction might have been, had he not been assassinated.

Print Books

Ebooks

Podcasts

Classics: African American History

Along with the nonfiction titles and resources included above, here are classic pieces of fiction relating to African American history:

Print Books

Ebooks