A prize-winning historian chronicles a sinister idea of freedom: white Americans’ freedom to oppress others and their fight against the government that got in their way.
American freedom is typically associated with the fight of the oppressed for a better world. But for centuries, whenever the federal government intervened on behalf of nonwhite people, many white Americans fought back in the name of freedom—their freedom to dominate others.
In Freedom’s Dominion, historian Jefferson Cowie traces this complex saga by focusing on a quintessentially American place: Barbour County, Alabama, the ancestral home of political firebrand George Wallace. In a land shaped by settler colonialism and chattel slavery, white people weaponized freedom to seize Native lands, champion secession, overthrow Reconstruction, question the New Deal, and fight against the civil rights movement.
A riveting history of the long-running clash between white people and federal authority, this book radically shifts our understanding of what freedom means in America.