Exploration of African American contributions to the state ofFloridaduring the era of Reconstruction
Despite their shortcomings, “radical” politicians, including African Americans, made worthy contributions to the state of Florida during the era of Reconstruction. Joe Richardson disputes many of the misconceptions about the state’s debt and corruption by exploring how some African American politicians were quite capable and learned their duties quickly. Even more remarkable was the rapidity with which the unlettered ex-slaves absorbed education and adjusted to their status as free men. African Americans in the Reconstruction of Florida delves into the problems encountered by the freed men and traces their successes and failures during the first decade after emancipation.
The Civil War did not end with Confederate capitulation in 1865. A second phase commenced which lasted until 1871—not Reconstruction but genuine belligerency whose mission was to crush slavery and create civil and political rights for freed people. But as Gregory Downs shows, military occupation posed its own dilemmas, including near-anarchy.
An important story of one man's life, lived with courage and principle.
During the decades of Bourbon ascendancy after 1874, Alabama institutions like those in other southern states were dominated by whites. Former slave and sharecropper Jack Turner refused to accept a society so structured. Highly intelligent, physically imposing, and an orator of persuasive talents, Turner was fearless before whites and emerged as a leader of his race. He helped to forge a political alliance between blacks and whites that defeated and humiliated the Bourbons in Choctaw County, the heart of the Black Belt, in the election of 1882. That summer, after a series of bogus charges and arrests, Turner was accused of planning to lead his private army of blacks in a general slaughter of the county whites. Justice was forgotten in the resultant fear and hysteria.
Beatrice of Bayou Têche
Alice Ilgenfritz Jones University of Wisconsin Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS2150.J2B43 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.4
Beatrice of Bayou Têche is a work of great historical and artistic interest: a late-nineteenth-century novel by a white woman about a black woman artist-protagonist. As the introduction for this reprint edition shows, Alice Ilgenfritz Jones was the first white woman to take an extended interest in the intersection of creativity, race, and gender. In Beatrice, Jones seeks to unveil the relationships between white and African Americans during the twenty years before the Civil War by following her mixed-race protagonist from her childhood as a slave in New Orleans through her career as a free woman and inspired painter and opera singer. Beatrice renders the white author’s effort to find a place for the mixed-race woman in relation to paradigms of creativity that are not only gendered but racialized. In the process, it exposes the fault lines of ideology and literary convention that underlie attempts to negotiate issues of race, gender, and creativity in late nineteenth-century America.
This book challenges our most basic ideas about slavery and freedom in America. Instead of seeing emancipation as the beginning or the ending of the story, as most histories do, O'Donovan explores the perilous transition between these two conditions, offering a unique vision of both the enormous changes and the profound continuities in black life before and after the Civil War.
After Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862, Rose Herera’s owners fled to Havana, taking her three children with them. Adam Rothman tells the story of Herera’s quest to rescue her children from bondage after the war. As the kidnapping case made its way through the courts, it revealed the prospects and limits of justice during Reconstruction.
Brazilian-African Diaspora in Ghana is a fresh approach, challenging both pre-existing and established notions of the African Diaspora by engaging new regions, conceptualizations, and articulations that move the field forward. This book examines the untold story of freed slaves from Brazil who thrived socially, culturally, and economically despite the challenges they encountered after they settled in Ghana. Kwame Essien goes beyond the one-dimensional approach that only focuses on British abolitionists’ funding of freed slaves’ resettlements in Africa. The new interpretation of reverse migrations examines the paradox of freedom in discussing how emancipated Brazilian-Africans came under threat from British colonial officials who introduced stringent land ordinances that deprived the freed Brazilian- Africans from owning land, particularly “Brazilian land.” Essien considers anew contention between the returnees and other entities that were simultaneously vying for control over social, political, commercial, and religious spaces in Accra and tackles the fluidity of memory and how it continues to shape Ghana’s history. The ongoing search for lost connections with the support of the Brazilian government—inspiring multiple generations of Tabom (offspring of the returnees) to travel across the Atlantic and back, especially in the last decade—illustrates the unending nature of the transatlantic diaspora journey and its impacts.
A classic of American political fiction first published in 1880, a mere three years after Reconstruction officially ended, Bricks Without Straw offers an inside view of the struggle to create a just society in the post-slavery South. It is unique among the white-authored literary works of its time in presenting Reconstruction through the eyes of emancipated slaves. As a leading Radical Republican, the author, Albion W. Tourgée, played a key role in drafting a democratized Constitution for North Carolina after the Civil War, and he served as a state superior court judge during Reconstruction. Tourgée worked closely with African Americans and poor whites in the struggle to transform North Carolina’s racial and class politics. He saw the ravages of the Ku Klux Klan firsthand, worked to bring the perpetrators of Klan atrocities to justice, and fought against what he called the “counter-revolution” that destroyed Reconstruction.
Bricks Without Straw is Tourgée’s fictionalized account of how Reconstruction was sabotaged. It is a chilling picture of violence against African Americans condoned, civil rights abrogated, constitutional amendments subverted, and electoral fraud institutionalized. Its plot revolves around a group of North Carolina freedpeople who strive to build new lives for themselves by buying land, marketing their own crops, setting up a church and school, and voting for politicians sympathetic to their interests, until Klan terrorism and the ascendancy of a white supremacist government reduce them to neo-slavery. This edition of Bricks Without Straw is enhanced by Carolyn L. Karcher’s introduction, which sets the novel in historical context and provides an overview of Albion W. Tourgée’s career, a chronology of the significant events of both the Reconstruction era and Tourgée’s life, and explanatory notes identifying actual events fictionalized in the novel.
Captives and Their Saviors in the Medieval Crown of Aragon argues that by this time the ransoming efforts were on a kingdom-wide scale engaging not only professional ransomers, merchants, and officials of the crown but the population at large.
By 1870 the sugar plantations of the Recôncavo region in Bahia, Brazil, held at least seventy thousand slaves, making it one of the largest and most enduring slave societies in the Americas. In this new translation of Crossroads of Freedom—which won the 2011 Clarence H. Haring Prize for the Most Outstanding Book on Latin American History—Walter Fraga charts these slaves' daily lives and recounts their struggle to make a future for themselves following slavery's abolition in 1888. Through painstaking archival research, he illuminates the hopes, difficulties, opportunities, and setbacks of ex-slaves and plantation owners alike as they adjusted to their postabolition environment. Breaking new ground in Brazilian historiography, Fraga does not see an abrupt shift with slavery's abolition; rather, he describes a period of continuous change in which the strategies, customs, and identities that slaves built under slavery allowed them to navigate their newfound freedom. Fraga's analysis of how Recôncavo's residents came to define freedom and slavery more accurately describes this seminal period in Brazilian history, while clarifying how slavery and freedom are understood in the present.
Edward Coles was a wealthy heir to a central Virginia plantation, an ardent emancipator, the second governor of Illinois, the loyal personal secretary to President James Madison, and a close antislavery associate of Thomas Jefferson. Yet never before has a full-length book detailed his remarkable life story and his role in the struggle to free all slaves. In Crusade Against Slavery, Kurt E. Leichtle and Bruce G. Carveth correct this oversight with the first modern and complete biography of a unique but little-known and quietly influential figure in American history.
Rejecting slavery from a young age, Coles's early wishes to free his family's slaves initially were stymied by legal, practical, and family barriers. Instead he went to Washington, D.C., where his work in the White House was a life-changing blend of social glitter, secretarial drudge, and distasteful political patronage. Returning home, he researched places where he could live out his ideals. After considerable planning and preparation, he left his family's Virginia tobacco plantation in 1819 and started the long trip west to Edwardsville, Illinois, pausing along the Ohio River on an emotional April morning to free his slaves and offer each family 160 acres of Illinois land of their own. Some continued to work for Coles, while others were left to find work for themselves. This book revisits the lives of the slaves Coles freed, including a noted preacher and contributor to the founding of what is now the second-oldest black Baptist organization in America.
Crusade Against Slavery details Coles's struggles with frontier life and his surprise run and election to the office of Illinois governor as well as his continuing antislavery activities. At great personal cost, he led the effort to block a constitutional convention that would have legalized slavery in the state, which resulted in an acrimonious civil suit brought on by his political enemies, who claimed he violated the law by not issuing a bond of emancipation for his slaves. Although initially convicted by a partisan jury, Coles was vindicated when the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the lower courts. Through the story of Coles's moral and legal battles against slavery, Leichtle and Carveth unearth new perspectives on an institution that was on unsure footing yet strongly ingrained in the business interests at the economic base of the fledgling state.
In 1831, after less than a decade in Illinois-and after losing a bid for Congress-Coles left for Philadelphia, where he remained in correspondence with Madison about the issue of slavery. Drawing on previous incomplete treatments of Coles's life, including his own short memoir, Crusade Against Slavery includes the first published analysis of Madison's failure to free his slaves despite his plans to do so through his will and a fascinating exploration of Coles's struggle to understand Madison's inability to live up to the ideals both men shared.
The Death of Reconstruction
Heather Cox RICHARDSON Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress E668.R5 2001 | Dewey Decimal 973.8
Historians overwhelmingly have blamed the demise of Reconstruction on Southerners' persistent racism. Richardson argues instead that class, along with race, was critical to Reconstruction's end. She reveals a growing backlash from Northerners against those who believed that inequalities should be addressed through working-class action, and the emergence of an American middle class that championed individual productivity and saw African-Americans as a threat to their prosperity.
Late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century landowners in the hinterlands of Baltimore, Maryland, cobbled together workforces from a diverse labor population of black and white apprentices, indentured servants, slaves, and hired workers. This book examines the intertwined lives of the poor whites, slaves, and free blacks who lived and worked in this wheat-producing region along the Mason-Dixon Line. Drawing from court records, the diaries, letters, and ledgers of farmers and small planters, and other archival sources, Max Grivno reconstructs how these poorest of southerners eked out their livings and struggled to maintain their families and their freedom in the often unforgiving rural economy.
Gus Reed was a freed slave who traveled north as Sherman’s March was sweeping through Georgia in 1864. His journey ended in Springfield, Illinois, a city undergoing fundamental changes as its white citizens struggled to understand the political, legal, and cultural consequences of emancipation and black citizenship. Reed became known as a petty thief, appearing time and again in the records of the state’s courts and prisons. In late 1877, he burglarized the home of a well-known Springfield attorney—and brother of Abraham Lincoln’s former law partner—a crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to the Illinois State Penitentiary.
Reed died at the penitentiary in 1878, shackled to the door of his cell for days with a gag strapped in his mouth. An investigation established that two guards were responsible for the prisoner’s death, but neither they nor the prison warden suffered any penalty. The guards were dismissed, the investigation was closed, and Reed was forgotten.
Gus Reed’s story connects the political and legal cultures of white supremacy, black migration and black communities, the Midwest’s experience with the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the resurgence of nationwide opposition to African American civil rights in the late nineteenth century. These experiences shaped a nation with deep and unresolved misgivings about race, as well as distinctive and conflicting ideas about justice and how to achieve it.
In this interdisciplinary study, scholars consider the aftermath of slavery, focusing on Caribbean societies and the southern United States. What was the nature and impact of slave emancipation? Did the change in legal status conceal underlying continuities in American plantation societies? Was there a common postemancipation pattern of economic development? How did emancipation affect the politics and culture of race and class? This comparative study addresses precisely these types of questions as it makes a significant contribution to a new a growing field.
Sydney Nathans offers a counterpoint to the narrative of the Great Migration, a central theme of black liberation in the twentieth century. He tells the story of enslaved families who became the emancipated owners of land they had worked in bondage.
Armed with only early boyhood memories, Lawrence P. Jackson begins his quest by setting out from his home in Baltimore for Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to try to find his late grandfather’s old home by the railroad tracks in Blairs. My Father’s Name tells the tale of the ensuing journey, at once a detective story and a moving historical memoir, uncovering the mixture of anguish and fulfillment that accompanies a venture into the ancestral past, specifically one tied to the history of slavery.
After asking around in Pittsylvania County and carefully putting the pieces together, Jackson finds himself in the house of distant relations. In the pages that follow, he becomes increasingly absorbed by the search for his ancestors and increasingly aware of how few generations an African American needs to map back in order to arrive at slavery, “a door of no return.” Ultimately, Jackson’s dogged research in libraries, census records, and courthouse registries enables him to trace his family to his grandfather’s grandfather, a man who was born or sold into slavery but who, when Federal troops abandoned the South in 1877, was able to buy forty acres of land. In this intimate study of a black Virginia family and neighborhood, Jackson vividly reconstructs moments in the lives of his father’s grandfather, Edward Jackson, and great-grandfather, Granville Hundley, and gives life to revealing narratives of Pittsylvania County, recalling both the horror of slavery and the later struggles of postbellum freedom. My Father’s Name is a family story full of twists and turns—and one of haunting familiarity to many Americans, who may question whether the promises of emancipation have ever truly been fulfilled. It is also a resolute look at the duties that come with reclaiming and honoring Americans who survived slavery and a thoughtful meditation on its painful and enduring history.
Preacher, teacher, and postmistress, Charlotte Levy Riley was born into slavery but became a popular evangelist after emancipation. Although several nineteenth-century accounts by black preaching women in the northern states are known, this is the first discovery of such a memoir in the South.
Born in 1839 in Charleston, South Carolina, Riley was taught to read, write, and sew despite laws forbidding black literacy. Raised a Presbyterian, she writes of her conversion at age fourteen to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, embracing its ecstatic worship and led by her own spiritual visions. Her memoir is revelatory on many counts, including life in urban Charleston before and after emancipation, her work as a preacher at multiracial revivals, the rise of African American civil servants in the Reconstruction era, and her education and development as a licensed female minister in a patriarchal church.
Crystal J. Lucky, who discovered Riley’s forgotten book in the library archives at Wilberforce University in Ohio, provides an introduction and notes on events, society, and religious practice in the antebellum era and during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and places A Mysterious Life and Calling in the context of other spiritual autobiographies and slave narratives.
". . . no American can be pleased with the treatment of Negro Americans, North and South, in the years before the Civil War. In his clear, lucid account of the Northern phase of the story Professor Litwack has performed a notable service."—John Hope Franklin, Journal of Negro Education
"For a searching examination of the North Star Legend we are indebted to Leon F. Litwack. . . ."—C. Vann Woodward, The American Scholar
This study of education for freedmen following Emancipation is the definitive treatment of the subject. Employing a wide range of sources, Robert C. Morris examines the organizations that staffed and managed black schools in the South, with particular attention paid to the activities of the Freedman’s Bureau. He looks as well at those who came to teach, a diverse group—white, black, Northern, Southern—and at the curricula and textbooks they used. While giving special emphasis to the Freedmen’s Bureau school program, Morris places the freedmen’s educational movement fully in its nineteenth-century context, relating it both to the antislavery crusade that preceded it and to the conservative era of race relations that followed.
This book is the first anthology of the autobiographical writings of Peter Randolph, a prominent nineteenth-century former slave who became a black abolitionist, pastor, and community leader.
Randolph’s story is unique because he was freed and relocated from Virginia to Boston, along with his entire plantation cohort. A lawsuit launched by Randolph against his former master’s estate left legal documents that corroborate his autobiographies.
Randolph's writings give us a window into a different experience of slavery and freedom than other narratives currently available and will be of interest to students and scholars of African American literature, history, and religious studies, as well as those with an interest in Virginia history and mid-Atlantic slavery.
One of the massive transformations that took place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the movement of millions of people from the status of slaves to that of legally free men, women, and children. Societies after Slavery provides thousands of entries and rich scholarly annotations, making it the definitive resource for scholars and students engaged in research on postemancipation societies in the Americas and Africa.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, thousands of former slaves made their way from the South to the Kansas plains. Called “Exodusters,” they were searching for their own promised land. Bryan Jack now tells the story of this American exodus as it played out in St. Louis, a key stop in the journey west.
Many of the Exodusters landed on the St. Louis levee destitute, appearing more as refugees than as homesteaders, and city officials refused aid for fear of encouraging more migrants. To the stranded Exodusters, St. Louis became a barrier as formidable as the Red Sea, and Jack tells how the city’s African American community organized relief in response to this crisis and provided the migrants with funds to continue their journey.
The St. Louis African American Community and the Exodusters tells of former slaves such as George Rogers and Jacob Stevens, who fled violence and intimidation in Louisiana and Mississippi. It documents the efforts of individuals in St. Louis, such as Charlton Tandy, Moses Dickson, and Rev. John Turner, who reached out to help them. But it also shows that black aid to the Exodusters was more than charity. Jack argues that community support was a form of collective resistance to white supremacy and segregation as well as a statement for freedom and self-direction—reflecting an understanding that if the Exodusters’ right to freedom of movement was limited, so would be the rights of all African Americans. He also discusses divisions within the African American community and among its leaders regarding the nature of aid and even whether it should be provided.
In telling of the community’s efforts—a commitment to civil rights that had started well before the Civil War—Jack provides a more complete picture of St. Louis as a city, of Missouri as a state, and of African American life in an era of dramatic change. Blending African American, southern, western, and labor history, The St. Louis African American Community and the Exodusters offers an important new lens for exploring the complex racial relationships that existed within post-Reconstruction America.
The Two Princes of Calabar
Randy J. Sparks Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress DA125.N4S66 2004 | Dewey Decimal 909.049607092267
In 1767, two "princes" of a ruling family in the port of Old Calabar, on the slave coast of Africa, were ambushed and captured by English slavers. The princes were themselves slave traders who were betrayed by African competitors--and so began their own extraordinary odyssey of enslavement. Their story, written in their own hand, survives as a rare firsthand account of the Atlantic slave experience. Sparks made the remarkable discovery of the princes' correspondence and has managed to reconstruct their adventures from it.