Review by Choice Review
Scholarship on the politics of Civil War-era memory has been a growth industry over the past two decades. Jeffrey's welcome work focuses on abolitionists who wrote memoirs and reminiscences and participated in antislavery reunions and conventions between 1865 and 1900. The book ranges widely, but focuses on such well-known abolitionist figures as Samuel J. May, William Still, Levi Coffin, Laura S. Haviland, George W. Julian, Jane Gray Swisshelm, and Frederick Douglass, as well as men and women who have remained obscure, even to scholars, such as Lucy N. Coleman, William Webb, Calvin Fairbank, and Aaron M. Powell. Jeffrey (Goucher College) argues that during and after Reconstruction, these old abolitionists were acutely aware of the reaction, in both the North and the South, that threatened African American rights, and used their autobiographies to try to remind readers of the evils of slavery and the need to struggle against its legacies. Utilizing reviews, book contracts, and correspondence with publishers as well as a survey of the contemporary press, Jeffrey finds that abolitionists struggled against growing racism and Old South/"Lost Cause" romanticism. This will not be the last word on the subject, but it is a marvelous starting point. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. T. D. Hamm Earlham College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.