Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: The Political Biography of an American Dilemma / Edition 1

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In this authoritative biography of the congressman and civil rights activist Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Prof. Hamilton reassesses the man's unique and complex place in American history. As the senior pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, Powell led protests against segregation and discrimination during the Great Depression. Through persistent effort and skillful politicking, Powell was elected to Congress in 1944 and continued his efforts on behalf of blacks during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. Following Kennedy's election, Powell gained the chairmanship of the House Committee on Education and Labor, but the remaining years of his life were filled with accusations, family problems, and the loss of his supporters. Drawing on extensive interviews and untapped archival material, Hamilton enriches the reader's understanding of Powell and the turbulent era in which he lived.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Captures the full range of an exciting man.
New Republic
Powell was a seminal figure, the first modern rogue civil rights leader, a maddening amalgam of morality and amorality, brilliance, and corruption. It is Hamilton's contention that Powell is a perfect lens through which to view the gap between America's human rights canon and its racial reality.... Hamilton has combed the congressman's papers and interviewed just about everyone still alive who was close to him.
Black Issues Book Review
Hamilton gives the reader a chance to live in Powells New York and , really. it would be anybody's kind of town.
Library Journal
Powell (1908-72) fused a complex mix of temperament and tactics into a discomforting, loud leadership of racial protest that insistently exposed the gap between American principle and performance, argues Hamilton. Probing Powell's rise and fall, Hamilton moves from the 1930s, when Powell became a New York City councilman, to his service starting in 1945 as a U.S. Representative, and then to his chairing of the House Education and Labor Committee, his expulsion from the House in 1967, and his defeat at the polls in 1970. Hamilton's able analysis of the unapologetic, openly arrogant champion of civil rights reflects the race issues of the day within a prism of political theory focused on the conflict of basic American values like majority rule and minority rights. This book is essential for any serious collection on black biography, civil rights, or political analysis. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/91.-- Thomas J. Davis, Univ. at Buffalo, N.Y.
Hamilton (government, Columbia U.) traces the extraordinary rise and the precipitous fall of Powell (1908-1972), the flamboyant and controversial congressman from Harlem, reassessing Powell's complex and unique place in American history. With 16 page of photographs. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815411840
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 1,556,670
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

A professor at Columbia, Charles V. Hamilton's other books include The Bench and the Ballot and (with Stokley Carmichael) Black Power.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: An American dilemma and a Political Career 1
1. The Fall from Power: Double Standard or Due Punishment? 13
2. Born to Privilege and Pampering 41
The Pulpit and Protest, 1930s-1940s
3. Harlem: A Report to the Mayor and Advice from a Columnist 55
4. Abyssinian Bapist Church: A Symbiotic Relationship 71
5. Preaching and Picketing 83
6. The City Council and Mayor La Guardia 109
Congressional Irritant, 1940s-1950s
7. Election to Congress and the Roosevelts 139
8. President Truman and a Report: "To Secure These Rights" 163
9. The Communist Party, the FBI, and "Mr. Civil Rights" 175
10. The Eisenhower Administration, the "Powell Amendment," and the Liberals' Lament 199
11. The Bandung Conference and a (Surprising) Voice for America 237
12. Alleged Kickbacks and an Income Tax Investigation 249
13. Switch to President Eisenhower, 1956 259
14. Victory over Tammany Hall, 1958 299
15. Surviving an Income Tax Trial 313
Power and Paradox, 1960s
16. The New Frontier, a New Chairman, and President Kennedy 329
17. The Great Society, "Mr. Chairman," and President Johnson 369
18. "I will always do just what every other Congressman ... has done." 407
19. Exposing Crime and Corruption, and the "Bag Woman" Case 429
20. Congressional Rebuke, Supreme Court Victory, and Electoral Defeat 445
21. Legacy 479
Notes 489
Index 529
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