Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New and Noteworthy----One Family, One Cause, One Father, One General, One War, One Victory

Apostles of EqualityApostles of Equality: The Birneys, the Republicans, and the Civil WarD. Laurence Rogers.  Michigan State University Press, East Lansing  Michigan State University Press, 2011.  250 pp.  $39.95 (cloth)

From the Publisher: The first biographical account of the life of James Gillespie Birney in more than fifty years, this fabulously insightful history illuminates and elevates an all-but-forgotten figure whose political career contributed mightily to the American political fabric. Birney was a southern-born politician at the heart of the antislavery movement, with two southern-born sons who were major generals involved in key Union Army activities, including the leadership of the black troops. The interaction of the Birneys with historical figures (Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry Clay) highlights the significance of the family’s activities in politics and war. D. Laurence Rogers offers a unique historiography of the abolition movement, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the experiences of one family navigating momentous developments from the founding of the Republic until the late 19th century.

From the H-Net ReviewOne of Apostles of Equality's strengths is the emphasis on [James G.] Birney's heroism and courage. Birney's was one of very few white Southern, abolitionist voices. Not only was Birney hated in the South, but, as Rogers clearly points out, most Northerners also detested Birney's agenda. Rogers reminds readers of the racism that was prevalent in the North; whites in both the North and South saw complete equality for African Americans--Birney's ultimate goal--as a serious threat. Throughout his adult life, Birney relocated repeatedly to avoid violence and keep his movement alive.

The image [left] is of David Bell Birney (May 29, 1825 – October 18, 1864), son of  James G. Birney.  David Birney was a businessman, lawyer, and a Union General in the Army of the Potomac.

Link For H-Net Review

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