Chained to the Rock of Adversity

To Be Free, Black, and Female in the Old South

Title Details

Pages: 160

Illustrations: 7 b&w illus.

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 09/01/1998

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2083-0

List Price: $24.95

Chained to the Rock of Adversity

To Be Free, Black, and Female in the Old South

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Chained to the Rock of Adversity offers valuable insight into the lives of the Old South's free women of color, using personal letters and a diary to tell an extraordinary story.

The letters, from family members and friends, were written between 1844 and 1899 to Ann Battles Johnson, wife of prominent Natchez businessman William T. Johnson, and her daughter Anna, while Ann's daughter Catharine wrote the diary. A freed slave herself, Ann Johnson became the head of her family and a slaveholder before the Civil War. Her days were filled with the often tedious and sometimes overwhelming duties assigned to slaveholding women, but her race separated her from most other women of this class. The writings depict a tight-knit network of family and friends and show a family well aware of its precarious position in society, feared by most whites and resented by other blacks.

Editor Virginia Meacham Gould provides an extensive introduction, a cast of characters, identifying notes, and a brief afterword tracing the Johnson family to the present day.

This is a spectacular achievement. Gould gives us the only example we have of a free black woman's testimony. It is simply a treasure.

—Catherine Clinton, author of Tara Revisited

This is a splendid book. I cannot praise too highly the contributions by Gould in making this book come alive.

—Carol Bleser, editor of Tokens of Affection: The Letters of a Planter's Daughter in the Old South

About the Author/Editor

VIRGINIA MEACHAM GOULD is the historian for the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans.