Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground

Maryland During the Nineteenth Century

Barbara Jeanne Fields

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"Should serve as a model for those who are ready to undertake the important task of re-studying the Border States during their historic transition.  Ms.  Fields, writing with spirit, integrates social and economic history with exceptional skill and displays a refreshing talent for analyzing the politics that alone can establish the primary significance of the story.  Her grasp of the dialectics of race and class cannot be overpraised."—Eugene D.  Genovese

"Fields combines meticulous scholarship and sophisticated analysis to produce both an important history of a little studies border state and a significant contribution to the history of slavery and the problem of the transition from slavery to freedom in the South following the Civil War and emancipation.  She deftly uses Maryland's unique experience as a slave state to provide refreshingly new insights into the nature of the slave system and the struggles of southerners, black and white, as they faced new problems while building a free labor system.  The result is a stunning contribution to our understanding of the different and often conflicting ways nineteenth century Americans perceived freedom and sought to give it meaning.  Although Fields shows how antebellum experiences helped to shape these perceptions, she convincingly argues that emancipation altered both perceptions and class relations, producing a sharp discontinuity in Maryland's history.  Future historians of the South will ignore this insightful book at their peril." —Harold D. Woodman

"In the seemingly unremarkable soil of Maryland, Barbara Fields has found interpretative gold. . . . Fields's book is a case study in the fate of moderation in the nation's bloodiest conflict....[Her] linking of social history with an analysis of economic and political developments makes her work an exemplary effort in the creation of a new synthesis in American history."—Jon Wiener, Nation

"Historians of nineteenth century America will welcome this well written book on the black experience in an important border state. . . . 'Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground' is thoroughly documented and skillfully presented, rendering this volume an important contribution to the understanding of a complex state which found itself under siege by both North and South in a great war for control of the government and, ultimately, the conscience of a nation." — William Jerry MacLean, Journal of the Early Republic

"Deeply researched, vigorously written and convincingly argued, Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground illuminates the powerful social conflicts which began in Maryland long before Fort Sumter and extended beyond the Reconstruction era. . . . Barbara Fields' account of the struggles for black emancipation in this border state fuses social with economic history in a particularly clarifying and convincing manner.  No serious student of slavery or Reconstruction can afford to overlook it. . . . Her book is a significant contribution to the histories of slavery, emancipation and race relations."—James Brewer Stewart, The Historian

Winner of a 1985 Special Citation from the Association of Black Women Historians

Winner of the 1986 John H. Dunning Prize given by the American Historical Association
ISBN: 9780300023404
Publication Date: March 11, 1985
272 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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