Seizing Freedom

Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All

Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All How did America recover after its years of civil war? How did freed men and women, former slaves, react to their newly won freedoms? Building on, criticizing and extending previous historical accounts of the Reconstruction, David Roediger’s radical new history finds fresh sources and texts that redefine the idea of freedom after the jubilee. Reinstating ex-slaves’ own “freedom dreams” in constructing these histories, Roediger creates a masterful account of the emancipation, and its ramifications on a whole host of day-to-day concerns for whites and black alike, such as property relations, labor and gender roles.

“This sparkling book does more than merely restore and underscore the agency of bold worker-slaves in attempts to make the US democratic and free. It aims artfully at the underlying mechanisms of revolutionary transformation: imagination and solidarity, time, labor and the human body, gender, class and race. In Roediger’s hands, these are neither dry nor overly abstract categories. The insurgent history of abolition gets resuscitated and used vividly to address a host of stalled contemporary debates and ossified styles of thought.”
—Paul Gilroy, King’s College London

“Sweeping in its scope and filled with brilliant and original insights, this book reminds us of how little still is our appreciation both for what slaves accomplished between 1860 and 1865 and how beholden the national labor movement and the woman suffrage campaigns were to the ‘general strike’ they won...Evocative and inspiring, Seizing Freedom represents a landmark study by one of the foremost scholars of the history of race and labor in our time that will fundamentally challenge the way we understand the moral and practical power of emancipation.”
—Thavolia Glymph, Duke University

Seizing Freedom, David Roediger’s spellbinding account of black self-emancipation and the array of movements accelerated by this ‘general strike of the slaves’ as DuBois put it, reminds us that it is never too late to take up the democratic promise of Radical Reconstruction.”
—Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz

Seizing Freedom persuasively documents the self-emancipation of the enslaved Black folk of the American South. A meticulously researched book, it offers close readings of verbal and visual texts, unfailingly attentive to issues of race, gender, and labor coming together and falling apart. It brilliantly brings together disability studies, race in the Civil War, and the disappearance of the gold standard. A worthy supplement to Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction.”
—Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University

“In insisting that the emancipation of the slaves has continuing relevance to the human quest for freedom, Roediger invites us to engage in the on-going conversation between past(s) and present(s) that inform all emancipatory struggles.”
—Peter Rachleff, East Side Freedom Library

New York: Verso, November 4, 2014

ISBN-10: 1781686092
ISBN-13: 978-1781686096