Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (review)

Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (review) REVIEWS Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia. By Eva Sheppard Wolf. (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2012. Pp. 174. Paper, $19.95.) Reviewed by Andrea S. Watkins The tenuous status of free blacks within antebellum Virginia is examined by Eva Sheppard Wolf through the life of Samuel Johnson, a slave who purchased his own freedom and struggled over the course of the rest of his life to free his family and keep them together. His attempts to work within the legal framework established by the state and his own connections to powerful Virginia citizens illustrates the nebulous place free blacks held within antebellum society, as well as the role of personal relationships between black and white residents in achieving freedom and prosperity. Wolf, associate professor of history at San Francisco State University, has pieced together a story of Johnson's adulthood and family life through local court records and Virginia legislative petitions. The specifics of Samuel Johnson's birth are not known, but his identification as ``mulatto'' in records indicates he had a slave mother and white father. Wolf suggests that Johnson's white father may have found his mulatto slave son work in Norris Tavern http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia by Eva Sheppard Wolf (review)

Journal of the Early Republic, Volume 33 (3) – Jul 5, 2013

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620
Publisher site
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Abstract

REVIEWS Almost Free: A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia. By Eva Sheppard Wolf. (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2012. Pp. 174. Paper, $19.95.) Reviewed by Andrea S. Watkins The tenuous status of free blacks within antebellum Virginia is examined by Eva Sheppard Wolf through the life of Samuel Johnson, a slave who purchased his own freedom and struggled over the course of the rest of his life to free his family and keep them together. His attempts to work within the legal framework established by the state and his own connections to powerful Virginia citizens illustrates the nebulous place free blacks held within antebellum society, as well as the role of personal relationships between black and white residents in achieving freedom and prosperity. Wolf, associate professor of history at San Francisco State University, has pieced together a story of Johnson's adulthood and family life through local court records and Virginia legislative petitions. The specifics of Samuel Johnson's birth are not known, but his identification as ``mulatto'' in records indicates he had a slave mother and white father. Wolf suggests that Johnson's white father may have found his mulatto slave son work in Norris Tavern

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Jul 5, 2013

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