This fascinating story of Amanda America Dickson, born the
privileged daughter of a white planter and an unconsenting slave in
antebellum Georgia, shows how strong-willed individuals defied
racial strictures for the sake of family. Kent Anderson Leslie uses
the events of Dickson's life to explore the forces driving southern
race and gender relations from the days of King Cotton through the
Civil War, Reconstruction, and New South eras.
Although legally a slave herself well into her adolescence,
Dickson was much favored by her father and lived comfortably in his
house, receiving a genteel upbringing and education. After her
father died in 1885 Dickson inherited most of his half-million
dollar estate, sparking off two years of legal battles with white
relatives. When the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the will, Dickson
became the largest landowner in Hancock County, Georgia, and the
wealthiest black woman in the post-Civil War South.
Kent Anderson Leslie's portrayal of Dickson is enhanced by a
wealth of details about plantation life; the elaborate codes of
behavior for men and women, blacks and whites in the South; and the
equally complicated circumstances under which racial transgressions
were sometimes ignored, tolerated, or even accepted.
Subjects: History, Sociology
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