What Was Freedom's Price? Essays

By Willie Lee Rose; Joel Williamson et al. | Go to book overview

After Emancipation:

A Comparative Study of White Responses to the New Order of Race Relations in the American South, Jamaica & the Cape Colony of South Africa

GEORGE M. FREDRICKSON

Thirty years have passed since Frank Tannenbaum published the little book that opened up the study of comparative slavery and race relations in the Americas. He called it Slave and Citizen to show that his subject was not merely patterns of servitude but also incompassed what happened after emancipation. The extent to which freedmen gained citizenship rights or were otherwise encorporated into the societies in which they found themselves was, if anything, more important to him than how they had fared under slavery. 1 But subsequent historians, who either built on Tannenbaum's work or reacted against it, have generally been much more concerned with the slave than with the citizen. Comparative slavery has become a flourishing enterprise, but the postemancipation responses and adjustments of those who had formerly been masters and slaves remain relatively undeveloped as subjects for cross-cultural historical study. This narrowing of concern may have promoted a clearer perception of slave systems, but it has also limited our ability to understand the forces involved in the transformation from a racial order based on black slavery to a more ambiguous situation, where formal affirmations of freedom and equality clashed with the desire of many whites to institute new forms of racial oppression.

-71-

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