Reconstruction Period Research Forum
Fitzgeralds Response to Dee;s Review
In Response To: Urban Emancipation ()
Michael Fitzgerald's response to Christine Dee's Review of _Urban
Faced with so appreciative an evaluation of _Urban Emancipation_, one might simply thank the kind reviewer and leave it at that. But a few of the points raised deserve comment, and it is difficult for an author to let such an opportunity go by.
I am gratified with Professor Dee's enthusiasm for the second half of the book. Even though African Americans were a clear minority of the
The reviewer found this latter portion of the book most interesting.
However, if one looks at this issue from the viewpoint of the African
In Mobile, the divisions between moderates and Radicals strikingly followed the lines of social division within the black community. The moderate faction was led by privileged men, mostly prewar free blacks who had long been resident in the city. These activists were predominantly of mixed ancestry, most obviously the Afro-Creoles who in the Gulf region constituted something of a third racial caste. These leaders cultivated a respectable public image, but over time, their preeminence was challenged by an alternative leadership, men who were more inclined toward direct action tactics. These militants were often recently arrived freedpeople from the countryside. They were also less likely to be of racially mixed background.
In social terms, these leadership issues intersected with the in-migration of destitute rural freedpeople, which gave the contest on the streets much of its popular energy. The broader implication is that the process of emancipation itself propelled the factionalism that bedeviled Reconstruction.
Professor Dee of course is aware of these aspects of the book, but I thought these points deserve some emphasis. Professor Dee is doubtless right that the book could have used some charts to make the analysis of population changes clearer. I'd like to thank her for her thoughtful critique of the book and her generous comments.
 Lawrence N. Powell, "The Politics of Livelihood: Carpetbaggers in the Deep South," in J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson, eds., _Region, Race and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward_, (Oxford and New York, 1982), 315-47.
Michael W. Fitzgerald
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