David W. Blight - book author
David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies. He has worked on Douglass much of his professional life, and been awarded the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others.
David W. Blight is the author of books: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era, Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War, Frederick Douglass' Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee, Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory, A People and a Nation, Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation, The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877 with David W. Blight
Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. After the war he sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.
In this biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers.
In 1865, confronted with a ravaged landscape and a torn America, the North and South began a slow and painful process of reconciliation. The ensuing decades witnessed the triumph of a culture of reunion, which downplayed sectional division and emphasized the heroics of a battle between noble men of the Blue and the Gray. Nearly lost in national culture were the moral crusades over slavery that ignited the war, the presence and participation of African Americans throughout the war, and the promise of emancipation that emerged from the war.
Race and Reunion is a history of how the unity of white America was purchased through the increasing segregation of black and white memory of the Civil War. Blight delves deeply into the shifting meanings of death and sacrifice, Reconstruction, the romanticized South of literature, soldiers' reminiscences of battle, the idea of the Lost Cause, and the ritual of Memorial Day. He resurrects the variety of African-American voices and memories of the war and the efforts to preserve the emancipationist legacy in the midst of a culture built on its denial.
Blight's sweeping narrative of triumph and tragedy, romance and realism, is a compelling tale of the politics of memory, of how a nation healed from civil war without justice. By the early twentieth century, the problems of race and reunion were locked in mutual dependence, a painful legacy that continues to haunt us today.
David Blight takes his readers back to the centennial celebration to determine how Americans then made sense of the suffering, loss, and liberation that had wracked the United States a century earlier. Amid cold war politics and civil rights protest, four of America's most incisive writers explored the gulf between remembrance and reality. Robert Penn Warren, the southern-reared poet-novelist who recanted his support of segregation; Bruce Catton, the journalist and U.S. Navy officer who became a popular Civil War historian; Edmund Wilson, the century's preeminent literary critic; and James Baldwin, the searing African-American essayist and activist--each exposed America's triumphalist memory of the war. And each, in his own way, demanded a reckoning with the tragic consequences it spawned.
Blight illuminates not only mid-twentieth-century America's sense of itself but also the dynamic, ever-changing nature of Civil War memory. On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the war, we have an invaluable perspective on how this conflict continues to shape the country's political debates, national identity, and sense of purpose.
Published on the occasion of the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Passages to Freedom brings home the reality of slavery's destructiveness. This distinguished yet accessible volume offers a galvanizing look at how the brave journey out of slavery both haunts and inspires us today.
Some essays in this collection disrupt the traditional story and time-frame of emancipation. Others offer trenchant renderings of emancipation, with new interpretations of the language and politics of democracy. Still others sidestep academic conventions to speak personally about the politics of emancipation historiography, reconsidering how historians have used source material for understanding subjects such as violence and the suffering of refugee women and children. Together the essays show that the question of freedom--its contested meanings, its social relations, and its beneficiaries--remains central to understanding the complex historical process known as emancipation.
Contributors: Justin Behrend, Gregory P. Downs, Jim Downs, Carole Emberton, Eric Foner, Thavolia Glymph, Chandra Manning, Kate Masur, Richard Newman, James Oakes, Susan O'Donovan, Hannah Rosen, Brenda E. Stevenson.