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The Road to Black Ned's Forge

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About the Author

Turk McCleskey is Professor of History at Virginia Military Institute, USA.


The remarkable story of Edward Tarr, a black freed man who lived with a white wife and worked as a blacksmith... a deeply researched study of slavery on the frontier. --The Roanoke Times In a well-researched study of Virginia during the colonial era, Turk McCleskey provides an insightful analysis of Augusta County and its ties to settlements in Pennsylvania, Tidewater Virginia, and the Carolinas through migration and trade. He reveals how economic development and demographic growth changed social and political structures in a backcountry where settlers, slaves, hunters, and Indians met on contested ground. --Gordan S. Baker "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography " With keen insight and thorough research Turk McCleskey vividly recovers the frontier world of Black Ned. Bold, proud, and clever, Black Ned lived at a crossroads in time and place. On Virginia's colonial frontier, a forceful black man could prosper as a blacksmith, defend his freedom in court, and marry a white woman. But that defiance eventually provoked resentments that, during the next generation, would close loopholes in the system of racial slavery, gaps that Ned had exploited so resourcefully. McCleskey has worked wonders in recovering and telling Ned's powerful story. --Alan Taylor, University of Virginia, author of The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and finalist for the National Book Award and the George Washington Book Prize Finally, a southern version of A Midwife's Tale, with an author who shares Laurel Ulrich's gift for turning slighted scraps of paper into stats and stats into stories--and a protagonist as heroic as hers, too. Edward Tarr purchased himself and a remote farm and then learned that his ex-owner's son had tracked him down, bent on returning him to slavery. --Woody Holton, University of South Carolina, author of Abigail Adams, winner of the 2010 Bancroft Prize A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2014 Virtually unknown in the annals of American history, Ned Tarr and the story of his life are a remarkable discovery by McCleskey. With notable skill, deft handling of complex sources, and masterly writing, McCleskey places Tarr at the center of a major work of early American history. --Warren Hofstra, Shenandoah University, author of The Planting of New Virginia: Settlement and Landscape in the Shenandoah Valley One man in one Virginia county demonstrates the immense potential that local case studies have long had in American history. But not one of those case studies is as powerful and artistically rendered as The Road to Black Ned's Forge. --Robert M. Calhoon, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, author of Dominion and Liberty: Ideology in the Anglo-American World, 1660-1881

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