The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway & the Slaves' Civil War

David S Cecelski, Author
David S. Cecelski. Univ. of North Carolina, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8078-3566-1
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
An illiterate but powerful orator, Abraham Galloway escaped from slavery to become a successful Union spy and, later, a Reconstruction-era state senator in North Carolina who, before his early death, advocated for the needs of the newly freed and for women's suffrage. Using Galloway's biography as a framework, Cecelski (The Waterman's Song) weaves North Carolina history with that of the period's African American leaders who lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights movement a full century later. In a few cases Galloway's life-saving penchant for secrecy necessitates admitted-but-believable supposition. However, substantial documentation of circumstantial supporting evidence is provided to flesh out events on both sides of the conflict. Cecelski obviously admires the brash biracial man who infiltrated a Union prison camp and rescued his mother from slavery, but he also reveals the personality quirks of someone so ambitious living with such peculiar social status. Substantial endnotes detail both the abolitionist infrastructure but also the realities of the Union's inconsistencies regarding the fates and handling of both fugitive slaves and black soldiers. Cecelski's marvelous story of a North Carolina slave who transcended his bondage with flair provides a meaningful way to commemorate the sesquicentennial Civil War anniversaries. (Oct.)
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