Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction. His Plan for Them Was Clear

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pp. 1-17

Edwin Jones lived in unsettling and uncertain times. He became active in politics amid the largest social and economic revolution in American history, and he and his fellow black Southerners were at the heart of it. In the midst of Civil War, slaves had walked off plantations, many of them into Union Army lines. In doing so, they remade the world. Their insurrection and military service helped dismantle the Confederacy. By the end of the war, the largest slaveholding nation on earth had freed all of its four million slaves. At the time, slaves constituted the largest capital investment in the...

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Chapter One. A Nation Born in a Day

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pp. 18-44

On February 22, 1865, the 4th and the 37th U.S. Colored Troops, among others, occupied the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina. As the soldiers marched through the streets, they sang, “Christ died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” Slaves and free blacks lined the streets to cheer, dance, and celebrate.1 One African American woman spotted her son among the soldiers. Young men who had left home as slaves now returned as liberators. Their presence meant the end of slavery. As one observer recalled, “[Union Army] horsemen were dashing in hot haste through all the...

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Chapter Two. Redemption and Exile

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pp. 45-64

If some black Protestants expected emancipation to inaugurate an era where the fortunes of African Americans only steadily improved, then they faced a stumbling block just out of the gates. Radical Reconstruction had brought what many had prophesied; citizenship and voting rights for men followed on the heels of freedom. In 1868, African Americans helped rewrite the constitutions of every ex-Confederate state save one. These new constitutions seemed to solidify a new social order. Despite reports of rampant abuse from landlords and employers, black Southerners could at least rest in the knowledge that they and their white Republican allies controlled the legislature. But even this victory was short-lived....

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Chapter Three. Exodus and Jubilee

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pp. 65-97

Exile narratives from Israel’s past may have helped some African Americans imagine a place for themselves in the post-Reconstruction South, but for 1,500 sharecroppers in Lenoir County in eastern North Carolina, by 1877 living in exile had become too difficult to bear. In fact, as they planned an exodus, they referred to the South not as a land of exile but as a “House of Bondage,” the same term Israelites used for Egypt. When the Israelites fled their captors, they entered a vast desert and grumbled at the lack of food and drinkable water. Some wanted to return to Egypt. The migrants from...

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Chapter Four. A Jeremiad

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pp. 98-127

Even before J. C. Price told South Carolinians that they had yet to see God’s harvest in the South, he sounded a similar note in a speech for the National Temperance Society. As he assured the crowd, “I am sanguine. I believe there is a future, and a great future, ahead of the colored men.” That great future, Price explained, had to do with the gifts, abilities, and intelligence that African Americans could use to further their progress. But the future Price described was one greater than that of black Americans’ own making: it was a divine mission.1 Two years later, in another temperance speech,...

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Chapter Five. A Table Prepared by Our Enemies

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pp. 128-156

Even before North Carolina’s white supremacy campaign of 1898, African Americans across the South knew the times were troubling. Beginning in 1890,mstate legislatures and popular referenda imposed racial segregation on rail travel and considered ways to disfranchise black men. Lynching peaked in 1892, with mob victims topping two hundred per year. Rev. S. F. Hamilton, a black Methodist minister in Monroe, North Carolina, was troubled about his race’s future and with good reason. He viewed recent political events as portentous signs. Hamilton conveyed his fears to fellow church members in...

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Epilogue. Some Great Plan

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pp. 157-162

Between 1913 and 1916, dozens of American cities held conventions and parades to celebrate the semicentennial anniversary of emancipation. Black leaders successfully lobbied the U.S. Senate for a quarter million dollars to hold a national celebration, but the House of Representatives voted the measure down. At the larger exhibitions in Richmond and Chicago, black organizers assembled exhibits to demonstrate fifty years of progress. At the New York semicentennial, W. E. B. Du Bois designed an African American history pageant, the “Star of Ethiopia,” that showcased the glory of ancient...

Notes

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pp. 163-188

Bibliography

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pp. 189-204

Index

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pp. 205-212