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After Slavery

Race, Labor, and Citizenship in the Reconstruction South

Bruce E. Baker

Publication Year: 2013

Moves beyond broad generalizations concerning black life during Reconstruction in order to address the varied experiences of freed slaves across the South. This collection examines urban unrest in New Orleans and Wilmington, North Carolina, loyalty among former slave owners and slaves in Mississippi, armed insurrection along the Georgia coast, racial violence throughout the region, and much more in order to provide a well-rounded portrait of the era.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This collection grew out of two major conferences sponsored by the After Slavery Project, an international research collaboration funded by the (U.K.) Arts and Humanities Research Council and involving three of the contributors to the present volume—Bruce E. Baker, Brian Kelly, and Susan E. O’Donovan. The Ninth Wiles Colloquium brought a dozen leading scholars ...

List of Abbreviations

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p. ix-ix

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pp. 1-15

“In my youth, in my manhood, in my old age,” Thaddeus Stevens reminisced as he rose in Congress to urge ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, “I had fondly dreamed that when any fortunate chance should have broken up for awhile the foundations of our institutions” the nation’s political leadership might seize the opportunity to “[free] them from every vestige of ...

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1. Slave and Citizen in the Modern World: Rethinking Emancipation in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 16-34

On a Saturday evening, in April 1793, several hundred black slaves near the village of Trois-Rivières, on the French West Indian colony of Guadeloupe, rose in revolt against their enslavers, killing twenty-two of them. After laying waste to several of the properties, they organized themselves into quasi-military units, posted sentries to secure the estates, and sent a detachment marching ...

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2. “Erroneous and Incongruous Notions of Liberty”: Urban Unrest and the Origins of Radical Reconstruction in New Orleans, 1865–1868

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pp. 35-57

In January 1866, Freedmen’s Bureau agent William Dougherty reported on the radicalization and unrest among black workers in Algiers, a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana. Contrary to Dougherty’s advice, agricultural workers in the vicinity of Algiers were “delaying to make a permanent contract” with the planters, causing a serious labor shortage. Dougherty noted several ...

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3. “Surrounded on All Sides by an Armed and Brutal Mob”: Newspapers, Politics, and Law in the Ogeechee Insurrection, 1868–1869

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pp. 58-76

On 29 December 1868, the Savannah Republican ran an editorial presenting the advantages of annexing the Republic of Santo Domingo. There would be no international outcry, argued the editor, and the people of Santo Domingo would welcome American control. “The negroes’ . . . rule,” explained the newspaper, “has been marked in every stage by the grossest misgovernment and ...

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4. “It Looks Much Like Abandoned Land”: Property and the Politics of Loyalty in Reconstruction Mississippi

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pp. 77-97

In the spring of 1866, a writer in a Vicksburg newspaper directed readers to what he thought was a new phrase in American politics. It was, he claimed, “a word that we never heard or saw used . . . until this late war of the ‘so-called’ rebellion,” a phrase better suited to the “bloody purposes of court-martials and military commissions” than the politics of a republic. The new phrase ...

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5. Anarchy at the Circumference: Statelessness and the Reconstruction of Authority in Emancipation North Carolina

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pp. 98-121

In 1867, a North Carolina freedman named Peter Price walked fifteen miles to a Freedmen’s Bureau office in a Piedmont North Carolina town with a complaint: he was being cheated out of his share of the previous year’s crop. The man Price had come to see, Hugo Hillebrandt, the face of the national state in this section of North Carolina, was someone who seemed well ...

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6. “The Negroes Are No Longer Slaves”: Free Black Families, Free Labor, and Racial Violence in Post-Emancipation Kentucky

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pp. 122-142

In the summer of 1866, Jennie Addison, age twelve and, along with her mother, employed by the wife of James C. Ford as domestic help, testified to an agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau, Louisville Sub-district, that Mrs. Ford had on several occasions ordered a male employee to beat her. During the worst of these beatings, the “man struck her 7 or 8 times with his fist saying that he ...

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7. Ex-Slaveholders and the Ku Klux Klan: Exploring the Motivations of Terrorist Violence

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pp. 143-158

The Ku Klux Klan is one of the best-known organizations in American history: the most recognizable group expression of militant white supremacy. The general public may not make fine distinctions regarding the era and circumstance, or distinguish between the myriad kindred groups, but it is a universally understood image. Hooded figures populate television and the ...

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8. Drovers, Distillers, and Democrats: Economic and Political Change in Northern Greenville County, 1865–1878

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pp. 159-175

Writing about the Republican Party in southern Appalachia after the Civil War, historian Gordon B. McKinney has observed that its “decentralized party structure” meant that the national party found itself unable to dictate positions to the Republican administrations in the southern states, who had to respond to challenging local situations in ways that might place them at ...

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9. Mapping Freedom’s Terrain: The Political and Productive Landscapes of Wilmington, North Carolina

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pp. 176-198

On a chilly November morning in 1898, an army of rifle-toting businessmen, community leaders, recently returned veterans of the Spanish-American war, Red Shirts, and others interested in pinning their futures to an increasingly virulent racism, spilled into the streets of Wilmington, North Carolina, with mayhem and possibly murder on their minds. Having only days before seized ...

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10. Class, Factionalism, and the Radical Retreat: Black Laborers and the Republican Party in South Carolina, 1865–1900

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pp. 199-220

Reflecting on the dramatic changes that had transpired over the previous quarter century, the prominent black North Carolina educator Charles N. Hunter wrote in 1902 that he felt “abundantly vindicated” for having counseled compromise and moderation among black South Carolinians caught in the vortex of the struggle over Reconstruction. His efforts to “influence his ...

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pp. 221-230

When one reaches a certain age as a historian, an odd phenomenon sets in. The scholar realizes that he has made the transition from young Turk to elder statesman. Approaches once considered cutting edge are now viewed by one’s students as old hat. I think Professor Holt and I are the only contributors to this volume old enough to remember the excitement, the liberating ...


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pp. 231-254

List of Contributors

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pp. 255-257


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pp. 259-266

Further Reading

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pp. 267-268

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048376
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044774

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 4 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Slaves -- Emancipation -- United States.
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877).
  • Slavery -- United States -- History.
  • African Americans -- History -- 1863-1877.
  • African Americans -- History -- 1877-1964.
  • United States -- Race relations.
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