A Hard Fight for We
About the BookAfrican-American women fought for their freedom with courage and vigor during and after the Civil War. Leslie Schwalm explores the vital roles of enslaved and formerly enslaved women on the rice plantations of lowcountry South Carolina, both in antebellum plantation life and in the wartime collapse of slavery. From there, she chronicles their efforts as freedwomen to recover from the impact of the war while redefining their lives and labor.
Freedwomen asserted their own ideas of what freedom meant and insisted on important changes in the work they performed both for white employers and in their own homes. As Schwalm shows, these women rejected the most unpleasant or demeaning tasks, guarded the prerogatives they gained under the South's slave economy, and defended their hard-won freedoms against unwanted intervention by Northern whites and the efforts of former owners to restore slavery's social and economic relations during Reconstruction.A bold challenge to entrenched notions, A Hard Fight for We places African American women at the center of the South's transition from a slave society.
About the AuthorLeslie A. Schwalm is a professor and chair of Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Emancipation's Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest.
Reviews"A pleasure to read! Brimming with insight, prickly about assumptions too easily arrived at in earlier literature, briskly and pointedly written. Schwalm's book is a valuable intervention in the critical debate over the transition from slavery to freedom in the American South."--Stephanie McCurry, author of Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country
"This compelling, well-documented work offers us an intriguing look at a particular group of black women and their struggles to work for themselves and their communities on their own terms. Clearly, it makes a significant contribution to Civil War and Reconstruction-era historiography."--Jacqueline Jones, author of The Dispossessed: America's Underclass from the Civil War to the Present