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  • Slave and Free on Virginia's Eastern Shore
  • Slave and Free on Virginia's Eastern Shore
  • Slave and Free on Virginia's Eastern Shore
  • Slave and Free on Virginia's Eastern Shore

Slave and Free on Virginia's Eastern Shore

Article number: 32A14491-5749-4A37-8525-894A5CF8D755
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This book examines the Eastern Shore of Virginia during the last age of slavery. Based primarily on the local records of its two rural counties it unearths glimpses into that day that will rattle the stereotypes and preconceptions of many in this day.

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The Eastern Shore of Virginia has been home to English-speaking people for almost four hundred years, and for more than half of that time it was legal for some of its residents to own other residents who lived on the peninsula with them, to buy and sell, use and abuse them for their own purposes and profits.

What was it like to live in that day when human bondage was accepted fact, its mindset and practices firmly embedded in the everyday affairs of ordinary people?

On the Eastern Shore few were rich, most farms too small to be called plantations, and the daily struggle to wrest a living from the ground and the surrounding waters found black and white, slave and free, rich and poor living and working in close proximity, often at variance with the laws and codes of the slave society. Slaveowners accounted for slightly more than half of the white population, and a third of the peninsula's African Americans were free. It was hardly a classless society, but in this setting where inequality was extreme and daily life could be brutal, racial segregation like that of the twentieth century was yet unknown. 

Many studies of the age of slavery view this "ugliest of topics" from the top down, relying on state law and state-level resources. This book focuses on the local level, in Accomack and Northampton counties - a vantage point that yields findings that will challenge many of the popular and scholarly generalizations about antebellum slavery.

Slave and Free is solidly researched, a good place to begin the study that no one wants to talk about. It will be found accessible and readable by both the scholar and the general reader, as well as by all who know and love Virginia's Eastern Shore.

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