An Example for All the Land

Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C.

By Kate Masur

376 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 24 illus., 3 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7266-6
    Published: August 2012
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9932-8
    Published: October 2010
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7895-3
    Published: October 2010

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Awards & distinctions

Honorable Mention, 2011 Lincoln Prize, Lincoln and Soldiers Institute, Gettysburg College

Honorable Mention, 2011 Avery O. Craven Award, Organization of American Historians

A 2011 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

An Example for All the Land reveals Washington, D.C. as a laboratory for social policy in the era of emancipation and the Civil War. In this panoramic study, Kate Masur provides a nuanced account of African Americans' grassroots activism, municipal politics, and the U.S. Congress. She tells the provocative story of how black men's right to vote transformed local affairs, and how, in short order, city reformers made that right virtually meaningless. Bringing the question of equality to the forefront of Reconstruction scholarship, this widely praised study explores how concerns about public and private space, civilization, and dependency informed the period's debate over rights and citizenship.

About the Author

Kate Masur is assistant professor of history and African American studies at Northwestern University.
For more information about Kate Masur, visit the Author Page.


"Masur's elegant, nuanced study . . . is both a superb social and political history of the nation's capital during this crucial period and a significant contribution to the scholarship of race and Reconstruction. . . . Rich, well-researched, and well-conceived. . . . A sophisticated and fascinating treatment deserving of a wide audience. Highly recommended."--Choice

"Kate Masur’s original and widely ramifying study of post-emancipation struggles over equality in Washington, D.C. . . . [is] powerful indeed."--American Historical Review

“[A] deeply researched, beautifully written narrative. . . . A must-read book, not only for those interested in the emancipation and Reconstruction but for anyone interested in the long, complicated, and contentious story of equality in the United States.”--Civil War History

"In all, Masur sets a new standard in Reconstruction historiography. In a stunning achievement, she has unearthed a lost democratic legacy that was previously unknown--and presented it poignantly and provocatively."--Journal of American History

“A solid foundation for a comparative assessment of urban-based emancipation politics. . . . [This book] illuminates how Washington, D.C., provided important precedents for both expansive and limited views of emancipation and the rights of black people.”--Journal of Southern History

"[An] excellent book"--Washington History