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Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy

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One of Janet Maslin’s Favorite Books of 2018, The New York Times

One of John Warner’s Favorite Books of 2018, Chicago Tribune

Named one of the “Best Civil War Books of 2018” by the Civil War Monitor

“A fascinating and important new historical study.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“A stunning contribution to the historiography of Civil War memory studies.”
Civil War Times

In the tradition of James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, a deeply researched book that uncovers competing histories of how slavery is remembered in Charleston, South Carolina—the heart of Dixie

A book that strikes at the heart of the recent flare-ups over Confederate symbols in Charlottesville, New Orleans, and elsewhere, Denmark Vesey's Garden reveals the deep roots of these controversies and traces them to the heart of slavery in the United States: Charleston, South Carolina, where almost half of the U.S. slave population stepped onto our shores, where the first shot at Fort Sumter began the Civil War, and where Dylann Roof shot nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the congregation of Denmark Vesey, a black revolutionary who plotted a massive slave insurrection in 1822.

As early as 1865, former slaveholders and their descendants began working to preserve a romanticized memory of the antebellum South. In contrast, former slaves, their descendants, and some white allies have worked to preserve an honest, unvarnished account of slavery as the cruel system it was.

Examining public rituals, controversial monuments, and whitewashed historical tourism, Denmark Vesey's Garden tracks these two rival memories from the Civil War all the way to contemporary times, where two segregated tourism industries still reflect these opposing impressions of the past, exposing a hidden dimension of America's deep racial divide. Denmark Vesey's Garden joins the small bookshelf of major, paradigm-shifting new interpretations of slavery's enduring legacy in the United States.

ISBN-13: 9781620973653

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: New Press The

Publication Date: 04-03-2018

Pages: 464

Product Dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Ethan J. Kytle is a professor of history at California State University, Fresno and the author of Romantic Reformers and the Antislavery Struggle in the Civil War Era. Kytle lives in Fresno, California. Blain Roberts is a professor of history at California State University, Fresno and the author of Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women. She lives in Fresno, California.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Prelude: Slavery's Capital 12

Part 1 Emancipation and Reconstruction

1 The Year of Jubilee 39

2 Reconstructing Charleston in the Shadow of Slavery 62

Part II Jim Crow Rising

3 Setting Jim Crow in Stone 93

4 Cradle of the Lost Cause 114

Part III Jim Crow Era

5 Black Memory in the Ivory City 141

6 America's Most Historic City 167

7 The Sounds of Slavery 196

8 We Don't Go in for Slave Horrors 225

Part IV Civil Rights Era and Beyond

9 We Shall Overcome 259

10 Segregating the Past 292

Conclusion: Denmark Vesey's Garden 321

Afterword: The Saving Grace of the Emanuel Nine? 337

Acknowledgments 350

List of Abbreviations 353

Notes 360

Image Credits 430

Index 432