A Review Of Sick From Freedom Essay

838 Words Nov 23rd, 2015 4 Pages
A Review of Sick From Freedom

Jim Downs, notable historian who researches the civil war and reconstruction’s effect on slaves is the author of the fascinating book Sick From Freedom. The Civil War is infamous for how disease claimed lives of more soldiers than military combat. In his book Downs exemplifies that disease and sickness actually had a more devastating effect on emancipated slaves than on soldiers. Downs encourages readers to look beyond military casualties and consider the public health crisis that faced emancipated slaves in the years following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Estimates show that at least a fourth of the four million former slaves got sick or died between 1863 and 1870, including at least 60,000 who perished in a smallpox epidemic that began in Washington and Spread throughout the south. Downs persuasively presents that emancipation was a process, not an instant transition from slavery to freedom, but a progression to citizenship that was tied to the poor health and wellbeing of slaves. His perspective on emancipation is unique, as typically historians have presented the liberation of slaves as a glorious liberation, not one plagued with illness, death and suffering. Downs begins his book by presenting the story of an unnamed freed child who managed to survive the period of emancipation, along with his five siblings. The boy and his family traveled to a Union camp in Chattanooga Tennessee, where his father had enlisted, and was…

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