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Urban Emancipation: Popular Politics in Reconstruction Mobile 1860-1890

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Overview

"In Mobile, the Confederacy's fourth largest city, the most pressing social divide within the black community was between longtime residents - often freeborn, prosperous, and of mixed ancestry - and the wave of destitute rural freedmen fleeing the countryside. After Emancipation, moderate African American leaders seeking legal equality, and promoted by powerful white allies, emerged from the first group. The newcomers spawned a more militant faction - younger, poorer, and darker-skinned than their opponents - who encouraged mass action in the streets and formed the constituency for the white "carpetbag" leadership that dominated popular Republic politics." "Fitzgerald traces how the rivalry between black factions yielded a startlingly antagonistic political scene that steadily escalated into physical conflict, culminating in years of confrontations and altercations at rallies and conventions. He also explains why such strife was especially intense in urban areas, where activists and political patronage concentrated. Indeed, in Mobile, African Americans leaders seldom met violence at the hands of their racist adversaries, but their own rival clusters challenged each other repeatedly." Though Fitzgerald's book examines the local level, its implications are far reaching. By showing that fits in the African American community kept its members from working as a unified whole, it demonstrates that the Republican factionalism that helped doom Reconstruction went beyond competing cliques of white officeholders and their ambitions for patronage and position. Blacks too were partially responsible for the failure of Reconstruction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807128077
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.86 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael W. Fitzgerald is professor of history at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and the author of The Union League Movement in the Deep South.

LSU Press

Michael W. Fitzgerald is professor of history at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and the author of The Union League Movement in the Deep South.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 An Influx of "Ignorant Country Darkies": War and Emancipation in Mobile 9
2 None but Colored Men: The Mobile Nationalist and the Dilemmas of Interracial Activism 49
3 The Most Influential People: Suffrage, Class, and Factionalism 86
4 The Fruits of Sagacity: Race, Business, and the Radical Ascendancy 132
5 The Mainspring of It All: The Racial Politics of Federal Employment 168
6 Let Us Serve the Rich: Black Politics in an Era of Diminishing Prospects 198
Epilogue: Black Mobile Enters the New South 246
Bibliography 269
Index 287
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