Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Davis, Kenneth C. In The Shadow of Liberty.

Davis, Kenneth C.  In The Shadow of Liberty.  Macmillan/Henry Holt  2016  286p  $17.99  978-1-62779-311-7  hs  Nonfiction  VG-BN

The hypocrisy of the founding fathers who espoused personal freedom but owned slaves is not lost on many people. Davis hammers that point home again and again in this collection of stories about the lives of five of the slaves who were owned by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson. More is known about the slaves featured in the narrative — Billy Lee, Ona Judge, Isaac Granger, Paul Jennings, and Alfred Jackson — than most of the founding fathers’ other slaves, because they held prominent positions in the houses in which they worked. The issue of hypocrisy is not the main lesson of this book; rather, it is the untold stories of the contributions of those who were enslaved, which are often lost because of the lack of records of their lives. The daily lives, fears, and frustrations of these men and women are explored through household records, newspaper postings for runaways, letters, memoirs, and numerous secondary sources. A detailed timeline of slavery runs throughout the book between chapters. This book would be a solid addition to secondary U.S. History collections.    

Summary: The lives of five slaves owned by United States presidents and the role of the slave in early American history are examined.

Slavery                                                                                                            —Stephanie Pennucci

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