The Abolitionist’s Journal: Memories of an American Antislavery Family

University of New Mexico Press
Posted Sep 8, 2022

The Abolitionist’s Journal:
Memories of an American Antislavery Family
By James D. Richardson

In The Abolitionist’s Journal, former journalist and retired Episcopal minister James D. Richardson introduces a courageous nineteenth century anti-slavery Methodist minister – his great, great grandfather, George Richardson.

“In scripture, the prophets continuously challenged the people to remember the past, and God’s part in it, in order to move forward into an unknown future. James Richardson’s personal and compelling account of his abolitionist ancestors’ experiences confronting slavery helps us to move past our convenient forgetfulness and take up the cause of justice in our own time.”
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and author of Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times

Over the course of more than twenty years, James D. Richardson and his wife, Lori, retraced the steps of his ancestor, Methodist minister George Richardson (1824–1911), across nine states, uncovering letters, diaries, and more memoirs hidden away. Their journey brought them to the brink of the racial divide in America, revealing how his great-great-grandfather Richardson played a role in the Underground Railroad, served as a chaplain to a Black Union regiment in the Civil War, and founded a college in Texas for the formerly enslaved.

In narrating this compelling life, The Abolitionist’s Journal explores the weight of the past as well as the pull of one’s ancestral history. The author raises questions about why this fervent commitment to the emancipation of African Americans was nearly forgotten by his family, exploring the racial attitudes in the author’s upbringing and the ingrained racism that still plagues our nation today.

As America confronts a generational reckoning on race, these important perspectives add a layer to our larger national story.

James D. Richardson

“A thrilling story of deep faith, courage, and sacrifice, Jim Richardson’s memoir of his great-great-grandfather captures the quiet valor of an American hero most of us have never heard of.” — Ginger Rutland, author of the play When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story

“Written by George Richardson’s great-great-grandson, who himself left a successful journalism career to become an Episcopal priest, this book draws inspiration from its ancestor’s example of remarkable fortitude and commitment. With compelling spiritual and historical resonance, The Abolitionist’s Journal is a testament to the struggles and triumphs of a passionate, exemplary family.” — Foreword Reviews

“This chronicle persuasively speaks to how the past ripples through generations.” —Publishers Weekly

About the authorJames D. Richardson is a former senior writer with The Sacramento Bee and a retired Episcopal priest. He is the author of Willie Brown: A Biography. His articles on state politics have appeared in numerous publications including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife, Lori.

The Abolitionist’s Journal: Memories of an American Antislavery Family
By James D. Richardson. University of New Mexico Press/High Road Books; October 1,
2022. 320 pages; Hardcover $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8263-6403-6;
E-book $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8263-6404-3

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Mike Dougherty
Dougherty and Associates