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After SlaveryRace, Labor, and Citizenship in the Reconstruction South$
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Bruce E. Baker and Brian Kelly

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044774

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044774.001.0001

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Class, Factionalism, and the Radical Retreat

Class, Factionalism, and the Radical Retreat

Black Laborers and the Republican Party in South Carolina, 1865–1900

(p.199) 10 Class, Factionalism, and the Radical Retreat
After Slavery

Brian Kelly

University Press of Florida

In place of the bleak appraisal of an earlier generation of scholars, the recent emphasis on enduring black agency has generated a more positive evaluation that stresses black Southerners' capacity to make the best of a difficult situation. But as contemporary observers noted, the collapse of Reconstruction altered something fundamental in the internal life of the black community. This essay is an attempt to offer an explanation of those changes in a single southern state, South Carolina, between emancipation and the late nineteenth century. The deterioration in circumstances for black Southerners that accompanied the restoration of power to propertied whites affected all African Americans, but its effects were felt most acutely by the plebeian constituency mobilized in the early years after emancipation. The same pressures that marginalized black workers within the Republican Party encouraged the ascent of a more conservative, cramped vision of “race progress” within an increasingly stratified black community.

Keywords:   South Carolina, Republican party, Wade Hampton, social class, labor, black politics, strikes, Radicalism, political mobilization, redemption

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