Tricentennial Reading List with Larry Powell (Part 4)

Dec 4, 2018

Slavery and Freedom, War and Reconstruction

  • Slavery’s Metropolis: Unfree Labor in New Orleans During the Age of Revolutionsby Rashauna Johnson
  • Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market, by Walter Johnson
  • Beyond Freedom’s Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery, by Adam Rothman
  • New Orleans After the Civil War: Race Politics and a New Birth of Freedom, by Justin Nystrom
  • Uncivil Wars: Five New Orleans Street Battles and the Fall of Radical Reconstructionby James Hogue
  • An Absolute Massacre: The New Orleans Race Riot of July 30, 1866, by James Hollandsworth

Afro-Creoles

  • Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization, edited by Arnold M. Hirsch and Joseph Logsdon
  • Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in New Orleansby Caryn Bell
  • Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation, by Rebecca Scott and Jean Hebrard
  • Raising Freedom’s Child: Black Children and Visions of the Future After Slavery, by Mary Niall Mitchell
  • Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans, by Shirley Elizabeth Thompson

Transcript

Susan Larson: Now, we're moving on to slavery and freedom and war and reconstruction. One of my favorite books is Beyond Freedom's Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery, by Adam Rothman, who is a really fine historian.

Larry Powell: He is a fine historian. His earlier book was on Slave Country, about the building of-

Susan: Yes, right.

Larry: -King Cotton. He's got a real talent for focusing on a discreet case of a kidnapping case of the woman who--

Susan: It's very suspenseful. [laughs]

Larry: It's very suspenseful. I'm not sure how it's going to turn out. It's a compact little gem of a book.

[’San Spirito’ by Jon Batiste & Stay Human]

Susan: Then, of course, you chose Uncivil Wars: Five New Orleans Street Battles and the Fall of Radical Reconstruction, by James Hogue, and An Absolute Massacre: The New Orleans Race Riot of July 30, 1866, by James Hollandsworth.

Larry: Well, one will never go broke overestimating the racial violence and political terrorism. That was Reconstruction. The Absolute Massacre was about that really a police massacre of black and white Republicans in 1866, and it really was a game changer. I think it happened on the eve of a mid-term election. It was one of those mid-term elections that resulted in the huge repudiation of Andrew Johnson. It strengthened the hands of radical Republicans. I think Radical Reconstruction can some stance be traced to this massacre.

James Hogue book retakes five discreet battles. One of them is the battle- what's now known as the Battle of Liberty Place. It was known as The Battle of Canal Street. There was also The Battle of the Cabildo and so on and on. He really breaks it down. He has a military historian's sense of how forces are deployed.

Susan: Battles deployed, yes. [laughs]

Larry: He's not a military historian per se, he's in a much larger framework.

[‘New Orleanian Love Song II’ by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah]

Susan: One whole category that is such a fascinating one for both of us are the books about Afro-Creoles. Starting, as you've just said with, Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization, with Arnold Hirsch and Joseph Logsdon's that collections of essays, that's incredible.

Larry: It is a seminal collection of Gwen Halls in it, Paul LaChance, Joe Tregle, Caryn Cossé Bell, Joe Logsdon, Arnold Hirsch. I'm probably forgetting someone- and Jerah Johnson. There's not a weak essay in the bunch.

Susan: Then Caryn Bell went on Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in New Orleans.

Larry: It's not a book that reminds us of our Carribean linkages because of those three people of color, particularly those who came over from Saint-Domingue.

Susan: Well, that's the same thing in Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation.

Larry: Exactly.

Susan: Rebecca Scott did a wonderful job on that book.

Larry: On Freedom Papers?

Susan: Yes. I loved that book.

Larry: Yes, she did. That's another McArthur winner.

[‘Adam and Evie’ by Edmond Hall]

Susan: And then, Raising Freedom’s Child: Black Children and Visions of the Future After Slavery, by Mary Niall Mitchell. Mary Mitchell is such a great New Orleans historian.

Larry: She is. This is a one of a book on the covert school of the-- Mary sorted the curriculum that some of these students were studying and she really gets down in a granular level to tell the story.

['Adam and Evie' by Edmond Hall]

Susan: We've been talking with Tulane University professor emeritus, Larry Powell, about New Orleans' history books for the Tricentennial Reading List. The reading live tricentennial reading list is sponsored by the LS Foundation, the John Burton Harter Trust, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. For the ever-growing tricentennial reading list and other episodes, check out www.no.org.