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In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History…

In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents,… (edition 2016)

by Kenneth C. Davis (Author)

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16714119,693 (4.13)1
"An examination of American slavery through the true stories of five enslaved people who were considered the property of some of our best-known presidents"--
Title:In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives
Authors:Kenneth C. Davis (Author)
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (2016), Edition: First Edition, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis



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I think this was well-done for the intended ages 10-14 years old. I didn't realize it was for younger readers when I ordered this some time ago. The basic info and issues of slavery were not new to me, but I did learn more about individual enslaved people owned by Presidents. The timelines of slavery in America (i.e. laws, and which states were slave states as they were added to the union) were good refreshers. The illustrations and photos throughout this volume potentially helps to hold interest for younger readers. Would be good for school environments. This covers the time period until Andrew Jackson, the last American president to have been directly involved with the American Revolution. Later presidents and/or their families did own enslaved people but the focus is on the Founding Fathers who were slave owners.

Note: there was a naming typo which I hope was the only one in this book (a reprint edition) -- referring to Dolley Madison's son "Todd Payne" twice -- should have been "Payne Todd". ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Aug 7, 2020 |
This story is about how these five black people affected our history. These five people were Billy Lee, Ona Judge, Isaac Granger, Paul Jennings, and Alfred Jackson. Billy Lee was George Washington valet and he died before Washington died but he had more freedom than most slaves. He was always with Washington during the war. He was buried somewhere near Washington and then his remains were moved. He was one of the most famous slaves in that time period. He did simple that most people take for granted like knowing his birthday or having a tombstone. Ona Judge was also a slave of George Washington that took care of Martha Washington but she ran away. Martha felt betrayed by Ona as she privileged job as her slave which was light work. George Washington was not happy and hired a slave hunter for $400 to get her back to the house. The Washington family never found Ona Judge but it is known that Ona married a free black man. Isaac Granger witnessed some great events like when the British attacked Thomas Jefferson’s house. Also, he went with the British after the attack. The British promised all the slaves their freedom if they won the war. After George Washington’s men was sent to help Jefferson, Isaac decided he did not want to stay with the British. He eventually was the body servant of Thomas Jefferson. He gained his freedom when Thomas Jefferson died. Alfred Jackson was a slave of the aging Andrew Jackson. Alfred was suspect in a murder of someone from another plantation. Alfred along with two other men were sent to court on Christmas Eve. Andrew Jackson was at the court where his presence affected the room and they were found not guilty of the crime. The three men were sent back to their plantations.
In my opinion, this book has a strong relationship with our history and how slavery existed in this country. This book has a good and bad vibe to it is what I think and how these black lives are little known but some of the most famous people in American history have owned slaves such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson. These are all people who fought for our independence from the British. What does not make sense to me is that slaveholders did not give slaves their unalienable rights. In our history, there are presidents that have been slaveholders but some thought it was wrong. John Adams, for example, did not own any slaves but he grew up with slaves. Most free black people did not have good jobs and if they said something rude to a white person they were sent to jail +sss. Our history is a cruel place that we still have not figured that out yet.
  LeeB.G1 | Jan 16, 2019 |
I never knew that George Washington's false teeth were a mixture of ivory, bone, and the pulled teeth from slaves. Kenneth Davis connects the personal with the historical in this book, tracing the lives of the Founding Fathers alongside those who were forced to serve them. Timelines and illustrations help in filling out the story for readers, and Davis has good descriptions of the kidnapping, transport, and work performed by slaves in America. A little slow to start, the book really comes alive once full attention is paid to the experience of enslaved African Americans in the early United States. ( )
  VanWambeke | Jul 24, 2018 |
I was tempted to can this as another anachronistic attempt by a leftist to "throw shade" on the Founding Fathers. However, as I read, I found that with very few omissions or bias, Davis simply told THE STORY of these forgotten enslaved people owned by the founding fathers and other prominent figures in American History. The inclusion of direct quotes, if excised from context, are accurate and the primary sources are also well documented originals. As a Historian, I look for inaccuracies and inconsistencies, biases, and omission used to further an argument. This has very little of what a Historian would deem a down check. There IS the anachronistic tendency to apply 21st century ethics and morals to an 18th century world but, that can be forgiven given the rich content presented in a reader friendly format that honestly NEEDS to be read. I will assign this to my students if I teach a US history course as it demonstrates some of the very lessons we as Americans MUST learn from our past or be doomed to repeat. Such lessons as treating others how we wish to be treated cannot be mired in hypocrisy or they will lose their credibility to future generations. ( )
  jcbarr | Feb 7, 2018 |
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Honor 2017
  Clippers | Dec 21, 2017 |
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