@Book{ rothman2015,
    author = {Adam Rothman},
    title = {Beyond Freedom's Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery},
    address = {Cambridge, Mass.},
    publisher = {Harvard University Press},
    year = 2015,

p. 5: “Rose Herera’s story deserves to be told because it humanizes the history of slavery and emancipation in the United States and dramatizes key aspects of that history.” (“Dramatizes” used again twice, one on p. 6 and one on p. 7.)

p. 5-6: the book part of a wider movement of historians of slavery “adopting the techniques of ‘microhistory’” (footnote mentions Sparks, Scott and Hebrard, Sensbach, Gordon-Reed, Cecelski). See Microhistory.

p. 6:

Using microhistory to examine Atlantic slavery and emancipation is to view a hurricane through a pinhole. One cannot see the whole violent storm through a small aperture, but what can be seen comes across with great clarity and vivid detail on a human scale, which can lead to new insights into how people actually lived.

One of Rothman’s major points is that “the overthrow of slavery was not linear, orderly, or peaceful. Rather, it was chaotic, improvised, and violent” (7). For more on the unevenness of emancipation, see p. 146, 163, 166. Yet the story the book focuses on, Rose’s, is one that ends in triumph, while the stories that show even more clearly its disorderliness (like Virinda’s on p. 130; Juana on p. 188; the suicide on pp. 166-67) provide context. On the one hand, “with emancipation came sorrow” (George’s death, p. 116), but Rose also pulled justice out of “the wreckage of slavery” (p. 116) and the baptismal record of her fifth child is one on which “the watermarks of slavery have faded away” (p. 117) and the jailing of De Hart “reveals the new politics of justice after slavery” (p. 123). Good example of the difficult challenge of showing what really did end with slavery, as well as what did not.If we read Rose’s story through the lens of oakes2013, would we come away with a very different story where the main point is the power of an activist Republican state to intervene on behalf of a recently enslaved woman?

Rothman seems most impressed by the discontinuities of emancipation, even when he acknowledges the ways that “the forward march of freedom was erratic and could be reversed” (p. 163)—a phrasing that still posits there was something crucial that could be “reversed” and that the march, while erratic, was “forward”?

Discusses Refugeed Slaves on pp. 112-114.

p. 150:

For Banks now to enforce the slave code and evoke its benevolent ‘spirit’ revealed not the continuity from slavery to emancipation, but a fundamental rupture of law an dpower masked as continuity.

Another major point of the book is that “kidnapping was endemic to Atlantic slavery” (p. 8), which can itself be seen as a sort of organized system of kidnapping, particularly when considering womb laws that turned “natural increase” into slaves and the ubiquity of local and interstate sales. (Re: “natural increase,” Rothman notes that it “implies the growth of the slave population was mainly a natural or biological phenomenon. This implication is misleading because it ignores the legal and social dimensions of the increase in the slave labor force” (17).)

p. 50: Interesting contrast between “Rose’s notarized commodity-life” and “her subjective experience of being sold,” though Rothman argues that “the result was the same.”

Rothman’s book also another example, together with hahn2003, of a historian using rumor (in this case of kidnappings and reenslavements in Cuba) to tell a broader story of political struggle.

p. 35-36: notes decline of urban slavery in New Orleans over time, due to its “proximity to a dynamic plantation economy and its function as a gateway for immigrants. Cotton and sugar planters siphoned slaves out of New Orleans while free people of color and poor Irish and German newcomers did much of the work the slaves used to do.” Exception was domestic service, dominated by women (36ff) who were not immune to abuse or further sale

p. 49: slave trading as part of everyday business even of professionals who weren’t slave traders