Thursday, October 9, 2014

Redemption Songs by Lea Vandervelde

Oxford University Press announces the release of Redemption Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott by Lea Vandervelde (Iowa--Law). The publisher's abstract follows:
The Dred Scott case is the most notorious example of slaves suing for
freedom. Most examinations of the case focus on its notorious verdict, and the repercussions that the decision set off-especially the worsening of the sectional crisis that would eventually lead to the Civil War-were extreme. In conventional assessment, a slave losing a lawsuit against his master seems unremarkable. But in fact, that case was just one of many freedom suits brought by slaves in the antebellum period; an example of slaves working within the confines of the U.S. legal system (and defying their masters in the process) in an attempt to win the ultimate prize: their freedom. And until Dred Scott, the St. Louis courts adhered to the rule of law to serve justice by recognizing the legal rights of the least well-off. For over a decade, legal scholar Lea VanderVelde has been building and examining a collection of more than 300 newly discovered freedom suits in St. Louis. In Redemption Songs, VanderVelde describes twelve of these never-before analyzed cases in close detail. Through these remarkable accounts, she takes readers beyond the narrative of the Dred Scott case to weave a diverse tapestry of freedom suits and slave lives on the frontier. 
Redemption Songs follows Professor Vandervelde's biography, Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery's Frontier, also published by Oxford.