The Manumission of Ezra McIntosh is a historical novel depicting the evolution of the relationship of a Missouri slave (who would have his freedom) and his indulgent master (who would hold him to his services). The runaway of a prominent Missouri family, Ezra McIntosh is recaptured and acquired by his master’s son, a Lieutenant in the United States Cavalry. Out of compassion, the Lieutenant elevates him to the status of a personal servant and returns with him to his duty post in Texas.
Ezra proves to be a loyal and dependable servant but, at the outset of the Civil War, the Lieutenant resigns his commission rather than take up arms against the South. They return to Missouri where, with the Lieutenant’s consent, Ezra meets and marries a family servant.
As the war escalates, civil atrocities mount in Missouri and the Lieutenant joins the Confederate Army. He desires that Ezra accompany him into the field but, since Ezra is now a married father, offers him the option to remain at home as a field hand.
Reluctantly, but out of gratitude for the Lieutenant’s past kindnesses, Ezra joins him and the two are sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Ezra’s service at Vicksburg is faultless but, upon
its surrender, the Federal authorities decree that all slaves within the City are emancipated. Relying on the Federal decrees, Ezra asserts his freedom but is reminded that he is still a slave in Missouri and elsewhere throughout the South.