FREEDOM'S ALTAR by Charles F. Price


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The sequel to Price’s Hiwassee (1996), answering some moral questions left hanging in the earlier novel. In the previous story, set in North Carolina during the Civil War, Judge Madison Curtis, when the Curtis home and lands were threatened by bushwhackers, diverted a raiding party to a neighboring farm. The villains obliging headed there and killed all the men. Now, Curtis is trying to weather his guilt, as well as Reconstruction, although his plantation has gone to seed, its land untilled and livestock depleted by wartime raids. Daniel McFee, for 16 years a slave for the Curtises, and called Black Gamaliel during his servitude, fought for the North long and valiantly. Here, he’s returned to the only refuge he knows—the plantation—and offers the Judge his services as a sharecropper on the fallen farm. Meanwhile, Curtis wants to bind up the South’s wounds and bring it into harmony with the new ideas abroad. His hopes are thwarted constantly, however, by the appearance of a band of rogues led by Nahum Bellamy the Pilot, who wants to aid blacks by ruining white landowners. The author weaves into the tale portions of his own family history (the Price and Curtis families here are factually inspired). By story’s end, despite the warmth of Judge Curtis, the reconciliation of the races has failed to take place and the hate-mongers are on the rise. Well written, and cutting deeply into the theme of racial prejudice.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-89587-177-7
Page count: 291pp
Publisher: John F. Blair
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999