The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family by Mark AuslanderThe Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family by Mark Auslander

The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family

byMark Auslander

Paperback | October 1, 2011

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What does one contested account of an enslaved woman tell us about our difficult racial past? Part history, part anthropology, and part detective story, The Accidental Slaveowner traces, from the 1850s to the present day, how different groups of people have struggled with one powerful story about slavery.

For over a century and a half, residents of Oxford, Georgia ("the birthplace of Emory University"), have told and retold stories of the enslaved woman known as "Kitty" and her owner, Methodist bishop James Osgood Andrew, first president of Emory's board of trustees. Bishop Andrew's ownership of Miss Kitty and other enslaved persons triggered the 1844 great national schism of the Methodist Episcopal Church, presaging the Civil War. For many local whites, Bishop Andrew was only "accidentally" a slaveholder, and when offered her freedom, Kitty willingly remained in slavery out of loyalty to her master. Local African Americans, in contrast, tend to insist that Miss Kitty was the Bishop's coerced lover and that she was denied her basic freedoms throughout her life.

Mark Auslander approaches these opposing narratives as "myths," not as falsehoods but as deeply meaningful and resonant accounts that illuminate profound enigmas in American history and culture. After considering the multiple, powerful ways that the Andrew-Kitty myths have shaped perceptions of race in Oxford, at Emory, and among southern Methodists, Auslander sets out to uncover the "real" story of Kitty and her family. His years-long feat of collaborative detective work results in a series of discoveries and helps open up important arenas for reconciliation, restorative justice, and social healing.

Mark Auslander is an associate professor of anthropology and director of the Museum of Culture and Environment at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.
Title:The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American FamilyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:376 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:October 1, 2011Publisher:University of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:082034043X

ISBN - 13:9780820340432

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
Part One. Memory, Myth, and Kinship
1. The Myth of Kitty
2. Distant Kin: Slavery and Cultural Intimacy in a Georgia Community
Part Two. Slavery as a Mythical System
3. "The Tenderest Solicitude for Her Welfare": Founding Texts of the Andrew-Kitty Narrative
4. "As Free as I Am": Retelling the Narrative
5. "The Other Side of Paradise": Mythos and Memory in the Cemetery
6. "The Most Interesting Building in Georgia": The Strange Career of Kitty's Cottage
Part Three. Families Lost and Found
7. Enigmas of Kinship: Miss Kitty and Her Family
8. "Out of the Shadows": The Andrew Family Slaves
9. Saying Something Now
Appendix 1. Guide to Persons Mentioned in the Text
Appendix 2. Timeline
Appendix 3. Kitty's Possible Origins
Appendix 4. Kitty's Children
Appendix 5. The Greenwood Slaves, Postemancipation

Editorial Reviews

[B]y tracing the current descendants of Kitty, the author has made a contribution to African American genealogy, no small undertaking.

- Loren Schweninger - Journal of American History