Family or Freedom -- People of Color in the Antebellum South by Emily West, UPress of Kentucky '12, $50, 233 pages, ASIN #081313692X. Index, bibliography, notes, unillustrated.
For in some 200 known cases, freed slaves later chose bondage over freedom. Why would that be? There are various reasons, West writes, many of which are economically related. In some, coercion and particularly sexual coercion played a part. West argues that "the biggest motivation for personal enslavement, however, was the desperate desire to keep families together," citing a family that petitioned to re-enter slavery together on the condition that individual members would not be resold. Students of the Reconstruction Era may be aware of cases in which freed slaves lacked the resources to make it on their own and asked to be re-enslaved just to keep body and soul together.
Emily West is a lecturer in history at the University of Reading and author of Chains of Love: Slave couples in Antebellum South Carolina.
The American Red Cross from Clara Barton to the New Deal by Marian Moser Jones, Johns Hopkins UPress '13, $39.95, 375 pages, ASIN #1421407388. Index, notes, two groupings of b&w images.
A brief excerpt from the Introduction:
"Clara Barton brought the Geneva-based International Red Cross movement to the United States in 1881, despite a national climate of distrust toward European institutions. To succeed in this mission, she had to reinvent the organization as an American one: the American Red Cross would not just aid the army in wartime, as Red Cross societies in Europe did; it would also provide organized voluntary assistance in 'national calamities' such as floods, fires, epidemics, accidents, and social unrest in the United States and abroad. Barton nearly singlehandedly opened a new field of humanitarian relief and breathed new meaning into the ideal of humanitarianism.
"Humanitarian relief in disasters has since grown into a widespread global practice. This book is an effort to bring the spirit of Barton out of the shadows by discussing and analyzing how she and her successors developed practices and ideals of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance during the American Red Cross's first six decades. It explores how humanity and neutrality, the two ideals that Barton and other early Red Cross leaders chose as guiding principles for their philanthropic practices, took on varied and sometimes conflicting meanings over time. By critically interrogating the organization's principles, practices, and policies, this book seeks to explode the myth that the ARC as a sacred national trust operates above interests of class, race, and politics.
"The American Red Cross from Clara Barton to the New Deal traces the highly contingent events that shaped the American Red Cross, which in turn influenced how Americans currently conceive of domestic and international humanitarian assistance."
Marian Moser Jones is an assistant professor of family science at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.