304 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 22 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6507-8
Published: October 2021
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6509-2
Published: September 2021
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Awards & distinctions
2022 Best Historical Materials, Reference and User Service Association, an affiliate of the American Library Association
This compelling collection presents more than 120 letters from African Americans to Lincoln, most of which have never before been published. They offer unflinching, intimate, and often heart-wrenching portraits of Black soldiers’ and civilians’ experiences in wartime. As readers continue to think critically about Lincoln’s image as the “Great Emancipator,” this book centers African Americans’ own voices to explore how they felt about the president and how they understood the possibilities and limits of the power vested in the federal government.
About the Authors
Jonathan W. White is associate professor of American studies at Christopher Newport University and author or editor of several previous books, including Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War.
For more information about Jonathan W. White, visit the Author Page.
Edna Greene Medford is professor of history at Howard University.
For more information about Edna Greene Medford, visit the Author Page.
“…[O]riginal and gripping…These letters provide telling examples of the ways that Black Americans, free and enslaved, proactively and persistently sought liberty by word and deed and laid claim to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship: a truth as pertinent and pressing in the 21st century as during Lincoln’s day…White adds immeasurably to the value of the letters by providing informative historical context and relating the disposition of the letter-writers’ requests.”—Library Journal
“White’s selection of letters offers glimpses of what many Blacks hoped for and how they viewed Lincoln – unlike any of his predecessors – as an approachable friend…To Address You as My Friend gives life to the unique connection African Americans felt with Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War”—America's Civil War
"White, with an expert editor’s touch, has deftly assembled a wonderfully rich and fascinating mosaic of the hopes, dreams, and frustrations of African Americans during the Civil War."—The Civil War Monitor
"This outstanding volume of Black Americans’ letters to Abraham Lincoln,
edited by Jonathan W. White, captures the voices of free Blacks and the newly
emancipated at a pivotal moment in history...This collection is especially effective in sketching out the story of Black women during the war, the inordinate sacrifices they bore, and their politicization. Women’s experiences are captured in great detail."—Journal of Southern History
“Drawing on a painstakingly and imaginatively created archive, this important book brings to life the most human aspects of African American life during the emancipation process.”—John David Smith, coeditor of The Long Civil War: New Explorations of America’s Enduring Conflict
"Jonathan White’s extraordinary scholarship has unearthed a world of Black experience in the Civil War, of Black Americans finding their voices and gaining their agency—and establishing a relationship with the first president they believed cared about their conditions and concerns."—Sidney Blumenthal, author of All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln 1856–1860