Black Walden Summary

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Black Walden: Slavery and Its Aftermath in Concord, Massachusetts by Elise Lemire was written to give account to the true story of Concord, Massachusetts in the pre and post-American Revolution period in regards to the lives of enslaved, and eventually, freed African-Americans. Born and raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts, Lemire believed that what she grew up learning about Lincoln giving “birth to the nation and the nation’s literature” was the full extent of the proud heritage that her town boasted. As Lemire grew older and moved away, she began to learn about the true heritage of her home state: slavery. She goes on to say, “I knew nothing about Concord’s slavery past until years later.” After discovering that there was more to Concord’s…show more content…
Rather than give a detailed background into the slave mother and her origins and what led her to choose giving her child away, she focuses on Elizabeth Hoar and what may have been the decision making process into whether or not she should take the infant. Instead of first discussing the slaves in Concord Lemire spends time accounting the history and the life of Robert Cuming and his son John Cuming. She gives a detailed account on Robert Cuming’s dedication to becoming a gentleman and his wanting to “emulate the Royalls as best he could.” In addition to discussing Robert and John Cuming, Lemire gives indication on how whites viewed slaves during this period. For example, a great deal of the book focused on former slave Brister, and upon his introduction, she tells how “John and Elizabeth Hoar were careful to give the boy a name that made clear he was their property before he was a person. They gave him only a first name, which effectively excluded him from both their family and civil society.” Slave owners named their slaves from four categories and it was usually to show their “classical education, religiosity, or cosmopolitanism.” She also alludes to the denial of slavery in present day Lincoln by

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