In this Book

Forging Freedom
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summary
Arguing that freedom was not a static legal status, but instead a contingent and fragile lived experience, Myers delves deeply into legal, family, church, and government records to weave a rich social history of antebellum Charleston's free black women. Looking both at those who were officially manumitted and at those who lived as free but lacked proper documentation, Myers considers how black women defined, attained, and defended their freedom. This multi-dimensional portrait explores the differences between official and true freedom and examines the efforts by black women to achieve financial and social independence for themselves, to acquire property (both land and slaves), to gain emancipation and autonomy for family members, to live where and with whom they wished, to choose who or whether to marry, and to gain an education and social mobility for themselves and their children.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. Introduction: Imagining Freedom in the Slave South
  2. pp. 1-18
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  1. PART I: GLIMPSING FREEDOM
  2. pp. 19-19
  1. 1. City of Contrasts: Charleston before the Civil War
  2. pp. 21-35
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  1. PART II: BUILDING FREEDOM
  2. pp. 37-37
  1. 2. A Way Out of No Way: Black Women and Manumission
  2. pp. 39-76
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  1. 3. To Survive and Thrive: Race, Sex, and Waged Labor in the City
  2. pp. 77-112
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  1. 4. The Currency of Citizenship: Property Ownership and Black Female Freedom
  2. pp. 113-146
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  1. PART III: EXPERIENCING FREEDOM
  2. pp. 147-147
  1. 5. A Tale of Two Women: The Lives of Cecille Cogdell and Sarah Sanders
  2. pp. 149-175
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  1. 6. A Fragile Freedom: The Story of Margaret Bettingall and Her Daughters
  2. pp. 176-202
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  1. Epilogue: The Continuing Search for Freedom
  2. pp. 203-209
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 211-248
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 249-261
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 263-267
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