Date of Graduation

5-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

History

Advisor

Patrick G. Williams

Committee Member

Daniel Sutherland

Second Committee Member

Jeannie M. Whayne

Abstract

African-American lawmakers in the Arkansas General Assembly during Radical Reconstruction became politically active at a time when the legislature was addressing the most basic issues of public life, such as creating the infrastructure of public education and transportation in the state. They were actively engaged in the work of the legislature. Between 1868 and 1873, they introduced bills that eventually became laws. Arkansas passed two civil rights laws at the behest of African-American lawmakers. Education, law and order, and economic development--issues that reflected the southern Republican agenda that dominated the state's politics between 1868 and Democratic Redemption in 1874--also drew the interest of black lawmakers, and they proved not to be of a single mind when it came to this program. The black legislators of the three Republican-controlled assemblies enjoyed notable successes. Studying the political activities of the thirty-two African Americans sent to Little Rock during these years not only broadens our understanding of the careers of black officeholders at a crucial moment in southern, African-American and Arkansas history, it also allows us to hear their long-stifled voices.

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