Israel on the Appomattox by Melvin Patrick Ely
A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War

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Synopsis

WINNER OF THE BANCROFT PRIZEA New York Times Book Review and Atlantic Monthly Editors' ChoiceThomas Jefferson denied that whites and freed blacks could live together in harmony. His cousin, Richard Randolph, not only disagreed, but made it possible for ninety African Americans to prove Jefferson wrong. Israel on the Appomattox tells the story of these liberated blacks and the community they formed, called Israel Hill, in Prince Edward County, Virginia. There, ex-slaves established farms, navigated the Appomattox River, and became entrepreneurs. Free blacks and whites did business with one another, sued each other, worked side by side for equal wages, joined forces to found a Baptist congregation, moved west together, and occasionally settled down as man and wife. Slavery cast its grim shadow, even over the lives of the free, yet on Israel Hill we discover a moving story of hardship and hope that defies our expectations of the Old South.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Melvin Patrick Ely

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Melvin Patrick Ely, a native of Richmond, Virginia, took undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Princeton University, studied linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, University of Virginia. He has taught in public high schools in Virginia and Massachusetts, at Yale University, and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Since 1995 he has taught at the College of William and Mary, where he is currently Newton Family Professor of History and Black Studies. He is the author of The Adventures of Amos 'n' Andy: A Social History of an American Phenomenon, and co-translator, with Naama Zahavi-Ely, of The Handicap Principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin’s Puzzle, by Amotz and Avishag Zahavi.From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
Published December 1, 2010 by Vintage. 656 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

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for, as Ely notes, “paradoxically, to defend and enhance their independence, free blacks had to assert their rights within the white-run institutions under which they lived—and they had to take part in the local economy.” In time they came to form an important part of Virginia’s skilled workforce...

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Publishers Weekly

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Ely, professor of history and black studies at William and Mary and author of The Adventures of Amos 'n' Andy , accumulates extraordinary detail about everyday life, encompassing the family histories of the former owners and the former slaves of Prince Edward County, Virginia, and the community t...

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