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Yearning to Breathe Free: Robert Smalls of South Carolina and His Families

By Andrew Billingsley

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Univ. of South Carolina Press (November 15, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
Condition: New

Price: $19.99


On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls (1839-1915) commandeered a Confederate warship, the Planter, from Charleston harbor and piloted the vessel to cheering seamen of the Union blockade, thus securing his place in the annals of Civil War heroics. Slave, pilot, businessman, statesman, U.S. congressman – Smalls played many roles en route to becoming an American icon, but none of his accomplishments was a solo effort.

Sociologist Andrew Billingsley offers the first biography of Smalls to assess the influence of his families – black and white, past and present – on his life and enduring legend. In so doing, Billingsley creates a compelling mosaic of evolving black-white social relations in the American South as exemplified by this famous figure and his descendants.