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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

Black Legislators: Reconstruction

Reconstruction was a time of idealism and sweeping change, as the victorious Union created citizenship rights for the now freed (formerly enslaved) and the vote to Black men. Sixteen Black southerners, elected to the U.S. Congress, arrived in Washington to advocate for reforms such as public education, equal rights, land distribution, and the suppression of the Ku Klux Klan.

But these men faced astounding odds. They were belittled as corrupt and inadequate by their white political opponents, who used legislative trickery, libel, bribery, and brutal intimidation of their constituents to rob these black lawmakers of their base of support. Despite their status as congressmen, they were made to endure the worst humiliations of racial prejudice. And they have been largely forgotten--often neglected or maligned by standard histories of the period.

Sources:
Book-- Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen by Philip Dray http://www.amazon.com/dp/0618563709/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=2596428261&ref=pd_sl_8yqzj93x1d_b

African American Lives-- discussion of comedian Chris Rock's 2nd great grandfather, Julius Caesar Tingman: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/aalives/timeline/images_big/1872_south_carolina_legislature.html

In honor of President (okay, okay [President Elect, for now]) Barack Obama's historic victory, let's discuss black politicians generally during Reconstruction. What experiences have you had from your own research or through helping others w/information during this period?

What have you found? Where did you find it? How did you find it?

Though I have not thoroughly explored it yet, I found my Reconstruction politician tie in the WPA slave narratives, the story of Paul Jenkins: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?mesnbib:3:./temp/~ammem_OtxA::

It will be interesting to go back at some point soon and see how exactly he plugs into (if at all) my tree.

Please share of your own possible research into this area of Reconstruction politicians.

Messages In This Thread

Black Legislators: Reconstruction
Re: Black Legislators: Reconstruction

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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