Sydney Nathans, Professor Emeritus of History at Duke, has written a remarkable book that examines one Alabama plantation but yields valuable insights into an array of critical themes in African American history. A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland is not just a study of an antebellum plantation—it examines the people living on those 1,600 acres from 1844, when Paul Cameron bought the land, through the Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights eras and into this century. Nathans discovers surprising stories across this chronology, but the family saga has three essential elements. First, under the control of Cameron, the land was a vehicle for speculation in cotton, as were the African Americans he marched west to farm it. Second, the freed people on the plantation did not become sharecroppers, but instead bought the land during...

You do not currently have access to this content.