American Rambler Podcast Season 7, Episode 5: John C. Rodrigue and “Freedom’s Crescent”

John C. Rodrigue returns!

John is a professor of history at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, where he has been since 2007. He was one of Colin’s professors at LSU when they were both in Baton Rouge in the early 2000s. John’s new book is Freedom’s Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley (Cambridge University Press). It’s John’s third book.

Influenced by everything from Eugene Genovese to Timothy Snyder’s book on Eastern Europe, Bloodlands, Freedom’s Crescent looks at the process whereby the Union went from freeing (some) slaves via the Emancipation Proclamation to the eradication of slavery through the 13th Amendment. As John makes clear, it was a complicated and frustrating process.

Building on work of Armstead Robinson, James Oakes, and Michael Vorenberg, John provides a detailed look at how Union commanders and politicians grappled with thorny military, political, and constitutional issues in the western theater of operations. Historians have written many books about slaves fleeing to Union lines and thus “emancipating themselves.” But what happened when the Union army came to them, and how did this affect the North’s ability to maintain the loyalty of former slaveholders?

Colin and John also talk about the state of the history profession generally, wondering whether it makes sense for undergraduates to pursue a Ph.D. in history these days. 

Listen for free, here:

Buy John’s book here!

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