Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Memphis
Website URL
Slaves; slavery; emancipation; subaltern politics; Reconstruction; labor; American South; antebellum America; nineteenth century America
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am a former editor on the Freedmen & Southern Society Project, co-director of the Memphis Massacre Project, and author of (among other volumes), the prize-winning Becoming Free in the Cotton South (Harvard University Press, 2007).  I am currently at work on a political history of slaves, it is under contract with Metropolitan Press of New York.  My scholarship carries me back and forth across the threshold of freedom; it carries me back and forth across national borders.  I am as comfortable reflecting on slavery and the political lives of slaves as I am discussing black people’s aspirations and accomplishments in freedom.  I am especially interested in how the former informed the latter.  My work is rooted in labor, and as a consequence offers a worker’s perspective on the American capitalism and its roots in American slavery.

Recent Publications

Recent Books

  • Remembering the Memphis Massacre: An American Story (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, in production), with Beverly G. Bond
  • Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867, ser. 3, vol. 2, Land and Labor, 1866–1867 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2013), with Anthony E. Kaye, Steven F. Miller, Leslie S. Rowland, and Stephen A. West; recipient of the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Prize
  • Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867, ser. 3, vol. 1, Land and Labor, 1865 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), with Steven Hahn, Steven F. Miller, John C. Rodrigue, and Leslie S. Rowland
  • Becoming Free in the Cotton South (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007); recipient of the James A. Rawley Prize; recipient of the Award for Excellence in Research Using the Holdings of an Archives; finalist for the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Award

Recent Articles, Chapters, and Review Essays

  • “Writing Slavery into Freedom’s Story,” in Beyond Freedom: New Directions on the Study of Emancipation, ed. David Blight and Jim Downs (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2017)
  • “Slaves: America’s Working Class,” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 12 (number 4, 2015): 17–21
  • “Finding a New War in an Old Image,” in Lens of War: Exploring Iconic Photographs of the Civil War, ed. J. Matthew Gallman and Gary W. Gallagher (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2015)
  • Contributor, “Film Round Table: 12 Years a Slave,” Civil War History 60 (September 2014): 310–336
  • “Freedom’s Revolutions: Rethinking Emancipation and its History,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 72 (Winter 2013): 245–254 (published 2014)
  • “At the Intersection of Cotton and Commerce: Antebellum Savannah and its Slaves,”
    in Slavery and Freedom in Savannah, ed. Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie M. Harris (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2014), recipient of the 2014 Georgia Historical Records Council Award for Excellence in Documenting Georgia’s History and the 2014 American Association for State and Local History Leadership in
    History Award
  • “Mapping Freedom’s Terrain: The Political and Productive Landscapes of Wilmington, North Carolina,” in After Slavery: New Approaches to the Reconstruction South, ed. Bruce E. Baker and Brian Kelly (Gainesville, Fla.: University Press of Florida, 2013)
  • “Race and the Evolution of the Southern Economy,” The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 24: Race, ed. Thomas C. Holt and Laurie B. Green (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2013)
  • “Universities of Social and Political Change: Slaves in Jail in Antebellum America,” in Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America, ed. Michele Lise Tarter and Richard Bell (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2012); reprinted in Major Problems in American History, vol. 1, 4th edition (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2016)
  • “Traded Babies: Enslaved Children in America’s Domestic Migrations, 1820–1860,”
    in Children in Slavery: A Global History, vol. 2, Child Slaves in the Modern World, ed. Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, Fall 2009)
Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
Expertise by Chronology
Expertise by Topic
American Civil War, Emancipation, Labor, Migration & Immigration, Race, Rebellion & Revolution, Rural & Agrarian History, Slavery