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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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The Barber of Natchez Paperback – June 1, 1973

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A rare type of record of considerable historical and human interest. . . . The public will find in The Barber of Natchez a human being of unusual type, treated with compassion and understanding." --Journal of Southern History

"An absorbing tale [that] makes a distinct contribution to the social and economic history of the Old South. . . . The book is clearly written, well organized, and thoroughly informative." --Southwestern Social Science Quarterly

"A fascinating and well-written study of an unusual free Negro in an unusual Mississippi city. The work of the authors in editing the diary is excellent in every respect." --North Carolina Historical Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Edwin A. Davis was the head of the Louisiana State University Department of Archives. He graduated from Kansas State Teachers College and received his advanced degrees at the State University of Iowa and LSU.

William Ransom Hogan (1908-1971), a graduate of Trinity University, received his advanced degrees from the Univeristy of Texas. He was formerly head of the Department of Archives at LSU and served during World War II as a captain in military intelligence. He was a professor at Tulane University from 1947 until his death and served for many years as chairman of the history department. In 1946 Hogan published his influential The Texas Republic: A Social and Economic History, an authoritative account of early Texas history and a standard source of information on the republic.



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Product Details

  • Series: Wherein a Slave Is Freed and Rises to a Very High Standing;
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: LSU Press; Later Printing edition (June 1, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807102121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807102121
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

In 1938 the 2,000 page diary of William Johnson of Natchez, Mississippi was discovered along with numerous other personal and legal documents. The widow of Johnson's grandson made possible the publication of the diary in 1951 which led to publication of The Barber of Natchez in 1954.
This book is relevant to the history of the U.S. because of its detailed, up-close portrait of one city--Natchez, Mississippi--in the antebellum period. Further enhancing the books value is that the barber, William Johnson, was a free Negro. And while Johnson had enough education to create an extensive, if not acute, sixteen-year chronicle, he could not foresee the impending cataclysm of Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. Johnson's diary, therefore, is important because of its unvarnished, unintellectualized objectivity.
Johnson was scrupulously honest, but his integrity, while known by many, could not change the color of his skin. Neither would industry or imagination, both of which he possessed. He ultimately would dwell in a sort of nether-world between white society and slavery. And his disdain for the local white trash of Natchez reaffirmed his status as a man with no true place in the world. From birth he was banished.
In antebellum Mississippi true freedom was contingent upon skin color, although a modicum of freedom would be acccorded to a mulatto who aspired to live as a white man. It was this limited acceptance that Johnson pursued relentlessly throughout his short life. And his murder in 1851 was committed with naked impunity, as if Johnson had never been free at all.
Organized thematically by chapters covering every facet of Johnson's existence, The Barber of Natchez paints a vivid picture of everyday life in the Old South.
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Just occasionally when you pick up a book on a lark you find something truly exceptional. This particular book about the experiences of a free black man living in a southern town comes with a twist not only was he a property owner he also owned slaves. In accordance with the paradoxes of the time while he could advance in business if he was fortunate and proved he was "one of the good ones" he could never advance in society. This man was a success in business but he could not take advantage of the other things that white property owners took for granted joining a militia company and running for public office.

The story of his murder is equally astounding. While the conclusion of the process is probably well known to anyone familiar with southern American history the fact that the case even went to trial speaks volumes as to how well this Mr. William Johnstone was respected within the community.

Overall-History is never as simple as any of us would like to believe and unfortunately good morals do not change the color of your skin.
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William Johnson as a free man of color led a full and prosperous life with friends of all races. His barbershop was frequented by the elite of the town, where Johnson heard all the gossip and local business, which he noted in his diary. He had an apprentice program for young barbers, owned rental properties, and owned slaves. His diary is unique, making an important contribution to the social and economic history of a time and place.
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This book was recommended by a political adversary. We were debating the Southern society during slavery and his point was it was not all the evil it was presented in latter day literature. This book was to show that there were such things as free blacks in the south who prospered. The book did make his point, this man did prosper as a black man in pre Civil War Mississippi. He ever owned slaves himself. My point is this is almost a singular example of a very narrow impression. I believe slavery was evil and this book did not change my mind on that point. It is an interesting story but hardly descrbing a black paradise in the slave south.
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A fascinating story of one of the few free black men in Natchez, MS prior to the Civil War. Respected businessman, confidant to white businessmen, land owner, slave owner, the possibilities of the black people is shown here in a unique bit of our South's history.
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