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352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 17 halftones, 4 maps, notes, bibl., index

ISBN  978-1-4696-2190-6
Published: February 2015

The Fire of Freedom

Abraham Galloway and the Slaves' Civil War

By David S. Cecelski

Awards & Distinctions

2012 North Caroliniana Book Award, The North Caroliniana Society

Ragan Old North State Award, North Carolina Literary and Historical Association

Abraham H. Galloway (1837-1870) was a fiery young slave rebel, radical abolitionist, and Union spy who rose out of bondage to become one of the most significant and stirring black leaders in the South during the Civil War. Throughout his brief, mercurial life, Galloway fought against slavery and injustice. He risked his life behind enemy lines, recruited black soldiers for the North, and fought racism in the Union army’s ranks. He also stood at the forefront of an African American political movement that flourished in the Union-occupied parts of North Carolina, even leading a historic delegation of black southerners to the White House to meet with President Lincoln and to demand the full rights of citizenship. He later became one of the first black men elected to the North Carolina legislature.

Long hidden from history, Galloway's story reveals a war unfamiliar to most of us. As David Cecelski writes, "Galloway's Civil War was a slave insurgency, a war of liberation that was the culmination of generations of perseverance and faith." This riveting portrait illuminates Galloway's life and deepens our insight into the Civil War and Reconstruction as experienced by African Americans in the South.

About the Author

Historian David S. Cecelski is author of The Waterman's Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina and co-editor (with Timothy B. Tyson) of Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy.


“[A] thrilling biography.”
--Jim Downs, Huffington Post

"Cecelski's marvelous story of a North Carolina slave who transcended his bondage with flair provides a meaningful way to commemorate the sesquicentennial Civil War anniversaries."
--Publishers Weekly

"This portrait of an important American will appeal to those with an interest in African American political history during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras as well as those with an interest in North Carolina history."
--Library Journal

"All libraries should purchase this well-written work. . . . Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."

"Beautifully crafted, exhaustively researched and well-argued. . . . Cecelski provides a clear window into the emancipation process."
--Raleigh News & Observer

“A book that will be important to people who like to read about the Civil War and those interested in the struggle for Civil Rights.”
--D. G. Martin, The Mountaineer

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