ADAM ROTHMAN, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, will discuss his recent book, Beyond Freedom’s Reach: a Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery on Tuesday, June 23, at 6:30 PM. He will be introduced by South End resident and former municipal court judge, Herb Hershfang. Rothman, who grew up on West Brookline Street, focuses on the history of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War as well as the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world. His previous book on the subject was Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South, published in 2005. For Beyond Freedom, he researched the story of Rose Herera, born into slavery in rural Louisiana. She was bought and sold several times before being purchased by the De Hart family of New Orleans. After Union forces captured that city in 1862 during the American Civil War, her former owners fled to Cuba, taking Herera’s three small children with them.
One of the biggest challenges faced by freed slaves after the Civil War was to “reconstruct their families,” says Rothman in a compelling video about that period in American history, linked here. Beyond Freedom’s Reach documents Herera’s battle to rescue her children from bondage. Herera’s perseverance brought the children’s plight to the attention of members of the U.S. Senate and State Department, and turned a domestic conflict into an international scandal.
Rothman was invited to speak at the library by South End residents Jean Gibran and Ann Hershfang. Gibran recently talked at the library about her memoir, Love Made Visible, the story of her marriage to sculptor Kahlil Gibran; Hershfang last year brought you former New York Times reporter and bureau chief, Stephen Kinzer, who gave a riveting presentation of his latest book, The Brothers, an in-depth history of the disastrous Cold War foreign policy decisions made by siblings John Foster and Alan Dulles, secretary of state and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, respectively.
The event is free. Refreshments will be served. The South End library is fully handicapped accessible. Seating is limited, so come early if you don’t want to miss this event.