You can now place requests for physical library materials on this website. Be advised that items recently returned to the library may continue to appear on your account for a few days. For the safety of library customers and staff, returned materials are quarantined for a minimum of 96 hours before they are checked in. Please contact your local library for hold pickup instructions, or to ask any questions about returned items.

Capitol men : the epic story of Reconstruction through the lives of the first Black congressmen

by Dray, Philip.

Format: Print Book 2010
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
Carnegie Library of Homestead Non Fiction 973.81 Dray
Location  Carnegie Library of Homestead
 
Collection  Non Fiction
 
Call Number  973.81 Dray
 
 
Summary
Reconstruction was a time of idealism and sweeping change, as the victorious Union created citizenship rights for the freed slaves and granted the vote to black men. Sixteen black Southerners, elected to the U.S. Congress, arrived in Washington to advocate reforms such as public education, equal rights, land distribution, and the suppression of the Ku Klux Klan.
But these men faced astounding odds. They were belittled as corrupt and inadequate by their white political opponents, who used legislative trickery, libel, bribery, and the brutal intimidation of their constituents to rob them of their base of support. Despite their status as congressmen, they were made to endure the worst humiliations of racial prejudice. And they have been largely forgotten--often neglected or maligned by standard histories of the period.
In this beautifully written book, Philip Dray reclaims their story. Drawing on archival documents, contemporary news accounts, and congressional records, he shows how the efforts of black Americans revealed their political perceptiveness and readiness to serve as voters, citizens, and elected officials.
We meet men like the war hero Robert Smalls of South Carolina (who had stolen a Confederate vessel and delivered it to the Union navy), Robert Brown Elliott (who bested the former vice president of the Confederacy in a stormy debate on the House floor), and the distinguished former slave Blanche K. Bruce (who was said to possess "the manners of a Chesterfield"). As Dray demonstrates, these men were eloquent, creative, and often effective representatives who, as support for Reconstruction faded, were undone by the forces of Southern reaction and Northern indifference.
In a grand narrative that traces the promising yet tragic arc of Reconstruction, Dray follows these black representatives' struggles, from the Emancipation Proclamation to the onset of Jim Crow, as they fought for social justice and helped realize the promise of a new nation.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* With drama and precision, award-winning historian Dray retrieves buried aspects of a precarious and little understood period in American history, the Reconstruction, a time of hope and backlash, and vividly portrays the first African American men to serve as U.S. congressmen, groundbreaking lawmakers who faced harrowing adversity. Dray's fascination with all that he discovered, aspects of the past that illuminate the present in truly galvanizing ways, is palpable as he introduces readers to a furiously contentious world following the seismic rupture of the Civil War. A world in which one step forward in pursuit of racial equality was trampled by a stampede backward as Southern whites refused to accept black politicians. Dray isn't exaggerating when he uses the word epic in his subtitle: the black congressmen he portraits are heroes and their stories are riveting. Meet Robert Smalls. Born in 1839, he was the son of a slave woman and, mostly likely, her master. Theirs was an unusually affectionate South Carolina household, and Smalls, who never could behave like a slave, became a wheelman on the Planter, a steamer commissioned by the Confederacy. Bold and strategic, Smalls orchestrated the steamer's theft and turned it over to the Union army, becoming an instant war hero, a sure path to politics. With forays into the lives of Lincoln, Grant, and Frederick Douglass, as well as a look into the Ku Klux Klan, Dray establishes a multidimensional context for his lively and enlightening portraits of Smalls and his fellow black lawmakers, including Robert Brown Elliott, a favored slave who was so refined many believed he was English, and Richard Cain, an African Methodist Episcopal minister, the first black clergy to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a brilliant debater. A vigorous and groundbreaking work of character-driven history, Dray's thoroughly involving book concludes with an invaluable bibliography.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Starred Review. With this densely textured history of Reconstruction, Pulitzer Prize-finalist Dray (At the Hands of Persons Unknown) moves the first black congressmen--including Robert Brown Elliott, P.B.S. Pinchback and Hiram Revels--from the margins of American history and places their careers in an integrated context that includes not only the challenging world in which they lived [but] the stories of the men and women of both races whose actions affected their role. Particularly illuminating on local political history, Dray is equally attentive to broader issues (e.g., the rift between women's rights advocates and civil rights activists). Events frequently treated as separate African-American issues (e.g., the collapse of the Freedman's Bank, the legal entrenchment of separate but equal) are examined in the fuller milieu of contemporary history. The author asserts, [I]t is difficult to imagine another period in America's past as complex as Reconstruction, or one that has been more controversial in the telling. Dray's triumph is to have crafted a lucid and balanced narrative, thoroughly researched and well-documented to satisfy the scholarly, while consistently fascinating and fully accessible for the casual reader. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects United States. -- Congress. -- House -- Biography.
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
African American legislators -- Biography.
Social justice -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 19th century.
Southern States -- Race relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 19th century.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1865-1900.
Southern States -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.
Publisher Boston :Mariner Books :2010
Houghton Mifflin,
Edition 1st Mariner Books ed.
Language English
Description xiii, 463 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [421]-437) and index.
ISBN 9780547247977
0547247974
Other Classic View