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The Barber of Natchez Paperback – June 1, 1973
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"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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The real truth about being black, wealthy and the old SouthPublished 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
Recommended by a friend in Mississippi---she knew I would enjoy it. And, believe me, she knew I could not put it down.Published on February 12, 2013 by Sadie Blake