Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Douglas Chambers

Committee Chair Department

History

Committee Member 2

Sarah Franklin

Committee Member 2 Department

History

Committee Member 3

Max Grivno

Committee Member 3 Department

History

Committee Member 4

Elizabeth Haynes

Committee Member 4 Department

Library and Information Science

Abstract

The transition from slavery to freedom after the Civil War was a drawn out struggle to define how African Americans and whites would share the new social, political, and economic landscape. In Clarke County, Virginia, whites attempted to create political solidarity by demonizing blacks. Black and white voting patterns show how well the editors of the local newspaper, the Clarke Courier, encouraged the restoration of white supremacy with their negative writing about African Americans. White concerns about potential black challenges to their political and social supremacy created cultural space for African Americans to resist in ways that white people did not find threatening. Blacks took advantage of poor Conservative party discipline and white class schisms to build community institutions, like churches, schools, and mutual aid societies. The restoration of white supremacy encountered stiff black resistance, but elite whites eventually consolidated their power. Although it would be another century before African Americans could freely, and without the fear of retaliation, claim equal social and political rights, during Reconstruction they found their redemption in the creation of all-black towns.

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