Embattled Freedom
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Embattled Freedom

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  • Item #: 9781620068113
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Chronicle of a Fugitive-Slave Haven in the Wary North

Rural Northeastern Pennsylvania was a bucolic farming region in the 1800s—but political tensions churned below the surface. When a group of fugitive slaves dared to settle in the Underground Railroad village of Waverly, near Scranton, before the Civil War, they encountered a mix of support from abolitionists and animosity from white supremacists. Once the war came, 13 of Waverly’s black fathers and sons returned south, into the bowels of slavery, to fight for the Union. Their valor under fire helped to change many minds about blacks. Embattled Freedom lifts these 13 remarkable lives out of the shadows, while also shedding light on the racial politics and social codes they and their people endured in the divided North. The men had found a safe haven in Waverly, but like other people of color in the 1800s and early 1900s, their freedom was uneasy, their battle for respect never-ending.

Please visit the author’s website, www.jimremsen.com.


A fascinating history that needs to be shared.” -- -Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus, Director, Lackawanna Historical Society, Scranton 

A well-researched and documented read that revisits the challenges of 13 freedom-seekers who served during the Civil War. A research gem.” -- Sherman Wooden, President, Center for Anti-Slavery Studies, Montrose, Pa.

Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk DownKilling Pablo and his latest, Hue 1968, called Embattled Freedom "a fine example of serious local history, which fleshes out in particulars the larger social issues over a century."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's John Timpane, in a July 16 book review, praised Embattled Freedom as "beautifully written and well-researched."


Jim Remsen is a journalist and author of two prior books, The Intermarriage Handbook (HarperCollins, 1988) and Visions of Teaoga (Sunbury, 2014). Since retiring as Religion Editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jim has pursued his keen interest in history, with a focus on underappreciated aspects of our nation’s local histories. Being a native of Waverly, Pa., he is pleased to be bringing his old hometown’s remarkable black and abolitionist period to light.


Readers are invited to visit embattledfreedom.org, a related, free educational website. There you will find:

Learning segments based on themes in the book

Author’s blog

Classroom materials

Repository of illustrations

Recommended reading

by Jim Remsen
Trade paperback - 6 x 9 x .6
246 Pages
HISTORY / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
HISTORY / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic 
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