Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War by Chandra Manning published by Knopf (2016) 416 pages. $30.00 hardcover, $14.99 Kindle.
Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War by Chandra Manning examines the interplay of black refugees who arrived by the thousands into Union army camps as the United States forces penetrated ever deeper into the empire of slavery and the Federal policies towards black people that evolved in response to the refugee crisis. Professor Manning provides revealing details of African American interactions with white Northerners which turned the Federal government from the stalwart protector of slavery into the defender of the rights of black men and women. For the first time in American history, the United States government became the protector of blacks fleeing slavery against the wealthy whites who hoped to re-enslave them.
The book provides background on the situation of refugees, the complete unpreparedness of the Federal government to receive them in 1861, and the evolution of refugee policies, laws, and agencies over four years of war. What began as chaos was given some sense of order after the Emancipation Proclamation when black male refugees became soldiers and insisted that their wives and children be protected while they fought.
This is not the definitive work on black refugees during and after the war. That study is yet to be written. It is a useful introduction to the topic for the serious student of the war.
Reviewed by Patrick Young, Esq. I am Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra University School of Law and Director of the Law School's Immigration Law Clinic as well as Program Director at the Central American Refugee Center.
(Note: Mike asked that we include a brief biographical note at the end of book reviews.)