NORMAN D. BROWN, Editor
Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipatzon, 1861 - 1867. Series I,
Volume 1. The Destruction of Slavery. Edited by Ira Berlin,
Barbara J. Fields, Thavolia Glymph, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie
S. Rowland. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Pp.
xxxviii + 852. Acknowledgments, introduction, illustrations,
notes, index. $39.50.)
After combing the National Archives for records pertaining to eman-
cipation in the United States South, the editors of the Freedmen and
Southern Society Project selected some 40,000 documents-about 2 per-
cent of those examined-for inclusion in a massive multivolume collec-
tion entitled Freedom. The book under review, which details the wartime
erosion of slavery, represents the first chronological volume in this
documentary history, although it is the second volume to be published.
Each of its nine geographically defined chapters begins with a succinct
introduction written by the editors, who have also contributed a fifty-six
page introductory essay to the volume as a whole. Although one chapter
is devoted to the Confederacy, the book focuses on areas of the South
under federal control, and contains especially extensive treatment of the
border states of Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky.
The collection's overall theme is the war's destruction of slavery.
Although Union officers ranged from fervent abolitionists to conservative
Democrats, and official federal policy at first dictated that the war be waged
not for liberation but for preservation of the Union, the struggle, once
unleashed, inevitably undermined slavery as slaves took advantage of war-
time disruption to flee their masters, federal military commanders recog-
nized the utility of black manpower, and those slaves who remained at
home became increasingly unruly. This theme emerges clearly, although
the careful reader will detect a subtle difference in focus between the docu-
ments and the editors' introductions to them. The editors stress that their
aim is "to reconstruct the history of the freedpeople" (p. xx); like other re-
cent historians, they portray blacks not as passive objects of oppression
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed July 2, 2015.