Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves' Civil War

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves' Civil War

Article excerpt

The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves' Civil War. By David S. Cecelski. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Pp. [xxii], 326. $30.00, ISBN 978-0-8078-3566-1.)

As historians delve deeper into the history of slavery's wartime demise, a lively debate is developing about whether to characterize the Civil War as a triumph or a tragedy or--more modestly---how best to describe a situation that was intense, multivalent, and morally charged. In The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves' Civil War, David S. Cecelski takes up the challenge by narrowing his focus to the life story of one extraordinary man and the world he inhabited.

Abraham Galloway was bom into slavery in coastal North Carolina, escaped to Canada in 1857, and won election to the North Carolina state senate in 1868. An individual of remarkable energy and charisma, Galloway had a brief stint in Haiti before the Civil War and then volunteered his services as a spy for the Union army. He worked for General Benjamin Butler in Virginia and Louisiana and then returned to New Bern, North Carolina, where he became a leading figure in black politics, both locally and nationwide, after the war.

Cecelski emphasizes that Galloway and other African Americans in occupied North Carolina established a militant politics that was separate from, but often aligned with, the Union war effort. In 1863 Galloway emerged as a broker between Union recruiters and a black community reluctant to send its men off to war. Widely respected by local African Americans, he spoke regularly on black education and political mobilization and garnered attention and praise from Robert Hamilton, the New York-based editor of the Anglo-African. In 1864 Galloway and other local black activists traveled north, meeting President Abraham Lincoln in the White House and then addressing black audiences in several cities about conditions in the occupied South and about the need for voting rights. Returning home to North Carolina, Galloway ignored whites' threats of violent retaliation and became a Republican leader, a delegate to the 1868 state constitutional convention, and a state senator. All the while, he remained an uncompromising advocate of equal rights for African Americans and fiscal policies that favored the poor. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.