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 of U.S. emancipation to Queen's University Belfast for an intensive, three-day symposium on “Rethinking Reconstruction.” Such an exceptional gathering could not have taken place without the encouragement of Professor David Hayton, then Head of School in History at Queen's, or the generous support of the Wiles Trust. The editors want to express their gratitude to the late Trevor Boyd and the Boyd family, to Catherine Boone at Queen's, and to successive head librarians John Gray and John Killen at Belfast's Linen Hall Library. We are grateful to Moon Ho Jung and Enrico Dal Lago for their incisive comments on two of the colloquium sessions, and to Richard Follett, Sharon Harley, Steven West, and all of the Wiles participants.
The second gathering was an even more ambitious undertaking, organized over a period of eighteen months from a distance of more than three thousand miles. With generous funding from the South Carolina Humanities Council, the Conference on Race, Labor and Citizenship in the Post-Emancipation South brought together more than 250 professional historians, journalists, archivists, curriculum specialists, trade union activists, and high school educators from twenty-three states in the United States and Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, for twenty-four panels over three days. To put it simply, we could not have pulled off such a logistical challenge without the institutional support and the incomparable organizing skill and commitment of Simon Lewis and Lisa Randle of the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) program at the College of Charleston. Anyone who attended the conference will remember it as a model of vibrant discussion and (p.viii) engaged scholarship, and we are extremely grateful to Lisa and Simon, and to Dave Gleeson, Steven Hahn, Mary Moultrie, Bernard Powers, Ken Riley, and Kerry Taylor for their help in making it such an extraordinary success.
Finally we wish to thank Professor John David Smith with the University Press of Florida, who early on saw the potential in bringing some of this work to a wider audience; to the anonymous readers who offered critical comments and confirmed his judgment; and to Sian Hunter, also at the press, who has guided the project through the labyrinth of modern publishing.