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The stereotypical image of manumission involves a benign plantation owner freeing his slaves on his deathbed. But as Stephen Whitman demonstrates, the truth was far more complex, especially in the border states where manumission was much more common.
Paradoxically, in the decades following the Revolution, slavery in Baltimore gained strength even as slaves were being freed in record numbers. The vigorous growth of the city required the exploitation of rural slaves with craft skills. To prevent them from escaping and to spur higher production, owners entered into arrangements with their slaves, promising eventual freedom in return for many years of hard work. This practice of "term slavery" created a labor force affordable to small craftsmen and manufacturers and directly contributed to the urban development of the country's third largest city.
"A significant book that illuminates an important subject with unprecedented depth". -- Eugene D. Genovese
The Price of Freedom reveals how blacks played a critical role in freeing themselves from slavery, both by striking bargains with their owners and by assisting those still enslaved after their own manumission. Yet it was an imperfect victory. Freed blacks were virtually excluded from craft apprenticeships, and European immigrants supplanted them as a trained labor force in the 1830s. When former slaves began to be perceived as an economic threat, the racism implicit in slavery became explicit.
Title: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM: Slavery and Manumission in Baltimore and Early National Maryland
Illustrator: Reg. Price: $15.96
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky: 1997
ISBN Number: 0813120047
ISBN Number 13: 9780813120041
Book Details: 256 pages, 6 x 9, cloth, University Press of Kentucky
Item: 1.00 Item
Seller ID: 120047
Description: A stereotypical image of manumission is that of a benign plantation owner freeing his slaves on his deathbed. But as Stephen Whitman demonstrates, the truth was far more complex, especially in border states where manumission was much more common. Whitman analyzes the economic and social history of Baltimore to show how the vigorous growth of the city required the exploitation of rural slaves. To prevent them from escaping and to spur higher production, owners entered into arrangements with their slaves, promising eventual freedom in return for many years' hard work.
The Price of Freedom reveals how blacks played a critical role in freeing themselves from slavery. Yet it was an imperfect victory. Once Baltimore's economic growth began to slow, freed blacks were virtually excluded from craft apprenticeships, and European immigrants supplanted them as a trained labor force.
T. Stephen Whitman is professor of history at Mount St. Mary's College in Maryland.
"Illuminates the complex amalgam of social forces and human motives that figured in a group of slaveowners' individual decisions to terminate their slave labor voluntarily."—Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"A must read for students who want to understand the ramifications of manumission."—Choice
"No one interested in slavery or the nation's economic development should miss this important book. Offers a nuanced view of how slavery could exist in a developing economy and of the link between slavery and freedom in an urban setting."—North Carolina Historical Review
"An interesting, intelligent, and important study of slavery and manumission."—Journal of Economic History
"A vivid picture of the economic and social realities facing blacks in Baltimore during a time of 'self-led liberation'."—AB Bookman's Weekly
"A fine study. . . . a penetrating and subtle analysis that substantially expands our understanding of the subject."—American Historical Review
"Whitman provides an extraordinarily sophisticated look at the manumission process, producing a history that performs the difficult task of reflecting and separating the roles of paternalism, antislavery idealism, economic interest, and most important of all, the skill and intelligent choices made by slaves themselves in bringing about large numbers of manumissions in Baltimore. . . . Touches issues that have long been of concern to Afro-Americanists, and consequently this book has a significance that extends way beyond Whitman's discussion of Maryland or even the antebellum South more broadly."—Journal of American History
"Baltimore has long been recognized as an anomaly, a southern city where, by the Civil War, slavery remained legal but the vast majority of people of color were free. The Price of Freedom offers a coherent, thorough, and well-researched explanation of how and why white Baltimoreans, who were not known for their abolitionist sympathies, allowed this situation to develop"—William and Mary Quarterly
"How nice to read Stephen Whitman's study of class and race—bereft of jargon and political cant—which captures the true subtlety of the relationships between blacks and whites during a time of rapid social, economic, and political change."—H-Net Reviews
“An original, path-breaking study.”—Southern Historian
“A careful examination of the ways in which local, national, and international circumstances allowed the line between slavery and freedom to become quite blurred in Baltimore.”—Labor History