Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege
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Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege

Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893

Title Details

Pages: 248

Illustrations: 14 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 10/01/1996

ISBN: 9-780-8203-1871-4

List Price: $23.95

Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege

Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893

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This fascinating story of Amanda America Dickson, born the privileged daughter of a white planter and an unconsenting slave in antebellum Georgia, shows how strong-willed individuals defied racial strictures for the sake of family. Kent Anderson Leslie uses the events of Dickson's life to explore the forces driving southern race and gender relations from the days of King Cotton through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and New South eras.

Although legally a slave herself well into her adolescence, Dickson was much favored by her father and lived comfortably in his house, receiving a genteel upbringing and education. After her father died in 1885 Dickson inherited most of his half-million dollar estate, sparking off two years of legal battles with white relatives. When the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the will, Dickson became the largest landowner in Hancock County, Georgia, and the wealthiest black woman in the post-Civil War South.

Kent Anderson Leslie's portrayal of Dickson is enhanced by a wealth of details about plantation life; the elaborate codes of behavior for men and women, blacks and whites in the South; and the equally complicated circumstances under which racial transgressions were sometimes ignored, tolerated, or even accepted.

Excellent social history . . . Leslie's outstanding detective work illuminates issues of race and class in the life of a woman who escaped the limits of both.

Publishers Weekly

Leslie pieces together a story that provides a surprisingly detailed account of life in the nineteenth-century South.


Leslie overcomes the limitations of her sources to provide new insights on the intersection of race, class, and gender in the postbellum South, through the life of this remarkable woman.


While painstakingly reconstructing the identity and experiences of a woman who was born a slave but raised as free, Leslie discovered and then described a South where day-to-day social relations often defied social prescription. . . . A lovingly written account of the life of a heretofore unknown southern woman. Yet it is much more than that. This slim volume is also eloquent testimony to a woman whose very identity and experiences called race-based slavery into question. It is there, where the unusual is portrayed as usual, that the book excels. For it is there that Leslie demonstrates that more open, or fluid, race relations could exist in the nineteenth-century South.

Journal of American History


25 Books All Georgians Should Read, Georgia Center for the Book

About the Author/Editor

KENT ANDERSON LESLIE is an assistant professor of women's studies at Oglethorpe University.