Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition

Haymarket. May 2019. 210p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781608466245. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781608466269. HIST
OrangeReviewStarFranke's (Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality) seminal work begins in 1861 with a failed utopian experiment in black freedom and land ownership at Port Royal, SC. The author reveals how the dreams of these recently liberated people were cut short over time by President Andrew Johnson's obstructions and the return home of pardoned Confederate planters, among others. The work then describes different trials in freed persons self-governance near Vicksburg, MS, at the sprawling slave community Hurricane Plantation, owned by Joseph Davis, older brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Joseph's seized holdings would eventually serve as a temporary Union hospital. For a time, the author notes, this captured site functioned as a Federal project in black independence, even as a possible model for postwar reconstruction, which did not succeed. In closing, Franke calls on Americans to return to this history of incomplete emancipation (landlessness) to recover possible "futures" and to reactivate these "futures" now, via reparations made through collective resource redistributions, such as community land trusts.
VERDICT Franke's forward-looking book is a highly recommended read for all Americans.
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