The Free State of Jones

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9780715650776: The Free State of Jones
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Between late 1863 and mid - 1864, an armed band of Confederate deserters battled Confederate cavalry in the Piney Woods region of Jones County, Mississippi. Calling themselves the Knight Company after their captain, Newton Knight, they set up headquarters in the swamps of the Leaf River, where, legend has it, they declared the Free State of Jones.
The story of the Jones County rebellion is well known among Mississippians, and debate over whether the county actually seceded from the state during the war has smoldered for more than a century. Adding further controversy to the legend is the story of Newt Knight's interracial romance with his wartime accomplice, Rachel, a slave. From their relationship there developed a mixed - race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended, and the ambiguous racial identity of their descendants confounded the rules of segregated Mississippi well into the twentieth century.
Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement. In bridging the gap between the legendary and the real Free State of Jones, she shows how the legend - what was told, what was embellished, and what was left out - reveals a great deal about the South's transition from slavery to segregation; the racial, gender, and class politics of the period; and the contingent nature of history and memory.

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About the Author:

In The Long Shadow of the Civil War, Victoria Bynum relates uncommon narratives about common Southern folks who fought not with the Confederacy, but against it. Focusing on regions in three Southern states--North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas--Bynum introduces Unionist supporters, guerrilla soldiers, defiant women, socialists, populists, free blacks, and large interracial kin groups that belie stereotypes of the South and of Southerners as uniformly supportive of the Confederate cause. Examining regions within the South where the inner civil wars of deadly physical conflict and intense political debate continued well into the era of Reconstruction and beyond, Bynum explores three central questions. How prevalent was support for the Union among ordinary Southerners during the Civil War? How did Southern Unionists and freedpeople experience both the Union's victory and the emancipation of slaves during and after Reconstruction? And what were the legacies of the Civil War--and Reconstruction--for relations among classes and races and between the sexes, both then and now? Centered on the concepts of place, family, and community, Bynum's insightful and carefully documented work effectively counters the idea of a unified South caught in the grip of the Lost Cause.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Part I
The Origins of Mississippi's Piney Woods People
Chapter 1
Jones County's Carolina Connection
Class and Race in Revolutionary America
We can't boast of our ancestors because, when we get started talking about our families, out jumps the ghost of a pirate or a cousin of color. --Sam Dabney, from James Street's Tap Roots, 1943

[The Knights were of] the old aristocracy, bringing in slaves and finery from an older civilization. --Ethel Knight, Echo of the Black Horn, 1951Although South Carolina was the birthplace of most Jones County settlers, most of the parents of these settlers, especially those born before 1820, came from North Carolina. Swept by the forces of evangelical revivalism, the Regulator Movement, and the American Revolution, they participated in various "uncivil" wars, creating antiauthoritarian traditions among their descendants that later would support desertion of the Confederacy as well as secession from the Union. Thus the divisions that ripped apart families and neighborhoods in Civil War Jones County would be nothing new for the Welborns, Knights, Collinses, Sumralls, Bynums, Valentines, and Welches, who shared with one another a rich heritage of dissent and conflict.[1]

While it would be a mistake to attribute Southern dissenters' political views and behavior to their ancestors' experiences, that heritage did influence descendants' future economic, geographic, and marital choices, which in turn influenced their Civil War behavior. So important, in fact, is the historical background of participants in the Free State of Jones that it, too, became contested terrain between novelist James Street and local historian Ethel Knight.

Street's allusions to pirates and cousins of color in Tap Roots were part of his effort to link the origins of anti-Confederate sentiment in Piney Woods Mississippi to the ancestry of its participants. Interwoven within his tale of action and romance were the Revolution, the War of 1812, the settling of the frontier, and the historical evolution of relations of class and race from the perspective of his fictional characters. As an author of history as well as fiction, Street wanted readers to understand that the past weighed mightily on the Civil War generation.

To understand Street's effort to connect the Free State of Jones to the Revolutionary era, however, one must read his earlier novel, Oh, Promised Land, published in 1940. The popularity of Tap Roots, reflected in Universal Studio's release in 1948 of a movie by the same name, overshadowed his earlier novel in which he discussed not only race relations but also the class origins and political backgrounds of Piney Woods settlers. Using the Dabneys as a fictional composite of Jones County's early Anglo settlers, Street placed them in frontier Georgia as former Tories, Indian fighters, and plain folk who eventually came to hate the institution of slavery.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781469627052: The Free State of Jones, Movie Edition: Mississippi's Longest Civil War (The Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1469627051 ISBN 13:  9781469627052
Publisher: The University of North Carolina..., 2016
Softcover

9780807826362: The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War

The Un..., 2001
Hardcover

9780807854679: The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War

The Un..., 2003
Softcover

9781459633841: The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War

ReadHo..., 2012
Softcover

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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Between late 1863 and mid-1864, an armed band of Confederate deserters battled Confederate cavalry in the Piney Woods region of Jones County, Mississippi. Calling themselves the Knight Company after their captain, Newton Knight, they set up headquarters in the swamps of the Leaf River, where, legend has it, they declared the Free State of Jones. Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement. She shows how the legend-what was told, what was embellished, and what was left out-reveals a great deal about the South s transition from slavery to segregation; the racial, gender, and class politics of the period; and the contingent nature of history and memory.Adding further controversy to the legend is the story of Newton Knight s interracial romance with his accomplice, Rachel, a slave. From their relationship there developed a mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended, and the ambiguous racial identity of their descendants confounded the rules of segregated Mississippi well into the twentieth century.The film The Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight and directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) is releasing in cinemas worldwide in May 2016. Seller Inventory # AA79780715650776

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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Between late 1863 and mid-1864, an armed band of Confederate deserters battled Confederate cavalry in the Piney Woods region of Jones County, Mississippi. Calling themselves the Knight Company after their captain, Newton Knight, they set up headquarters in the swamps of the Leaf River, where, legend has it, they declared the Free State of Jones. Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement. She shows how the legend-what was told, what was embellished, and what was left out-reveals a great deal about the South s transition from slavery to segregation; the racial, gender, and class politics of the period; and the contingent nature of history and memory.Adding further controversy to the legend is the story of Newton Knight s interracial romance with his accomplice, Rachel, a slave. From their relationship there developed a mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended, and the ambiguous racial identity of their descendants confounded the rules of segregated Mississippi well into the twentieth century.The film The Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight and directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) is releasing in cinemas worldwide in May 2016. Seller Inventory # AA79780715650776

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