Unburdened by Conscience: A Black People's Collective Account of America's Antebellum South and the Aftermath
by Anthony W. Neal
Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: University Press of America; Revised edition (January 16, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
"While pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree in college, I took a lot of history courses [which] offered an essentially unapologetic, Southern view of American slavery [as] a benign institution. They focused primarily on the slaveholders, whom they euphemistically called ‘Southern planters.'
Each historian chose different words to convey [the same] message about the slave owners: The majority of Southern planters were good people who were morally concerned about the welfare of their slaves… As I read those textbooks, it dawned on me that I was not the intended audience.
After completing my assigned reading, I harbored a deep resentment because I believed I had been required to read propaganda for academic credit… In trying to humanize the slaveholders, most of those historians were leaving out an indispensable part of the record… black people's perspective.
Determined to present slavery from their point of view… I offer this book as the product of that effort."
--Excerpted from the Preface (pgs. ix-x)
American history books typically suggest that most Africans were docile
and that slave revolts like the one led by Nat Turner were rare occurrences
on plantations. But truth be told, escapes, resistance and insurrections
were the rule rather than the exception, given the whippings, rapes and
other forms of torture routinely employed by owners and overseers to keep
their chattel in line.