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Land Of the Free

The movie “The Free State of Jones” which opened in theaters June 24, tells the story of Newton Knight, who led an armed rebellion against the Confederacy that began during the Civil War and continued afterward in Jones County, Mississippi. The film was written and directed by Gary Ross and stars Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali and Keri Russell. It has already grossed $8.4 million in its first week, according to BoxOffice Mojo, though reviews have been mixed.

Knight deserted the rebel army, returned home and rallied other poor farmers and blacks fleeing slavery, to form an armed resistance and secede from the Confederacy. Jones County consisted mostly of small farms with struggling landowners who had little interest in fighting for the interests of wealthy planters who could avoid military service if they had more than 20 enslaved workers. The farmers also resented Confederate efforts to tax them and confiscate their provisions.

The film should revive interest in this period of history, which in the past has inspired another film, at least one novel, articles and scholarly works. Among the latter is “The Legend of the Free State of Jones,” by Rudy H. Leveret, Ed.D, published by the University of Mississippi Press in 1984 and reprinted 2009. It is considered the first to take a comprehensive scholarly look at the Jones County uprising. The book is offered by DiverseBooks:

Legend of the Free State of Jones, by Rudy H. Leverett, $22.50, List Price: $25.00, University of Mississippi Press, ISBN      9781604735710, pp. 143.

Dr. Leverett was a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who died in 1999. In this book, he debunks some of the legends about the incidents in Jones County based on facts and available records. offers discount prices on a variety of titles to enhance your knowledge and to provide resources for course work. In July, we also celebrate our nation founding and its history. Here are some other selections from our publishers:


Confederate Industry: Manufacturers and Quartermasters in the Civil War, by Harold S. Wilson,   $27 (List price: $30), University of Mississippi Press, April 2005,   ISBN: 9781578068173, pp. 232.

This book explores the Confederate military’s program to govern the South’s prosperous industrial base by a quartermaster system. The quartermaster general commandeered more than half the South’s produced goods for the military and appropriated hundreds of mills. At the same time, the Union systematically planned the destruction of Confederate industry. A Union blockade stopped the import of goods and crushed Southern industry. This book also traces the history of the South’s re-emergence in manufacturing and cotton milling.

Slavery, Propaganda, and the American Revolution, by Patricia Bradley,   $22.50 (List price: $25) University of Mississippi Press, May 1999, ISBN:  9781578062119, p. 224.


As the patriots fighting American independence shaped their goals for the revolution, they had no intention of applying the principles of liberation to all. This study shows how the freedom fighters excluded blacks from consideration and kept the issue of slavery off the agenda. The author, a Temple University department chair, compares coverage of the issue in the patriot press to the moderate colonial presses of the day. The Boston Gazette, for instance, ignored or distorted accounts of slavery and omitted petitions by blacks and otherwise resorted to propaganda to protect the status quo.

 The Historical Present: Uses and Abuses of the Past, by  Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., $225.50 (List Price, $25), University of Mississippi Press, October 2008,  ISBN: 9781604731729, p. 192.


A Washington and Lee University professor and former Pulitzer Prize winner examines how the study of history is our key to understanding the present. In a book of essays, Yoder suggests that Americans tend to avoid history and often believe they can ignore it. Whether it is the evolution of a bunch of colonies into a nation or the drafting of the Constitution, he argues, that the past is ever present.

The South’s Role in the Creation of the Bill of Rights, Robert J. Haws, $22.50, (List Price: $25) University of Mississippi Press, Chancellor’s Symposium Series, May 1991, ISBN: 9781604732627, p. 183.

Originally published in 1991, the year of the bicentennial of the adoption of the Bill of Rights after ratification by the states, this volume explores the role of Southern culture and opinion in the creation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Six noted experts in legal, constitutional, and southern history offer essays on the crucial influence of political leaders in the South who championed the cause for a bill of rights, while vehemently defending their rights to hold slaves. The essays show how the southerners’ defense of states’ rights and individual liberties dominated debate on constitutional rights until the Civil War.

Please see these and other titles on Through its partnerships with leading publishers – representing university and independent presses large and small – brings you scholarly and academic titles that you will not find elsewhere about diversity, education, history and many other topics. Visit to purchase books at significant discounts.

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