THE LOST GERMAN SLAVE GIRL: The Extraordinary True Story of the Slave Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom

John Bailey, Author . Atlantic Monthly $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-87113-921-4

Who was Sally Miller: was she Salomé Müller, a long-lost German immigrant girl enslaved by a Southern planter? Or was she really a light-skinned black woman, shrewd enough to exploit her only opportunity for freedom? Bailey (The White Diver of Broome ) keeps us guessing until the end in this page-turning true courtroom drama of 19th-century New Orleans. Bailey opens the story in 1843, when a friend of the Schubers—a local family of German immigrants—discovered Miller outside her owner Louis Belmonti's house. Struck by her remarkable resemblance to their late cousin Dorothea Müller, and unusual birthmarks exactly like he daughter Salomé's, the Schubers claimed Sally as kin and set about trying to prove her identity as Salomé and obtain her freedom. Bailey brings to life the fierce legal proceedings with vivid strokes. The case was controversial because it wasn't Belmonti but her previous owner, the perfect Southern gentleman John Fitz Miller, who faced disgrace if proved to have forced a white German girl into slavery. Bailey elucidates the bewildering array of possible identities turned up for Sally by numerous witnesses as well as the complexities of 19th-century Louisiana slave law and the status of black women. Sally herself remains an enigma at the center of this highly engrossing tale. Agent, Catherine Drayton of Arthur Pine Associates. 50,000 first printing. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/11/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 268 pages - 978-0-7329-1192-8
Hardcover - 535 pages - 978-0-7862-7621-9
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