James Rapier and the Negro Labor Movement

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Loren L. Schweninger, Emeritus Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: BORN OF FREE BLACK PARENTS IN FLORENCE, ALABAMA, a quarter century before the Civil War (1837) , James Thomas Rapier emerged during Reconstruction as one of the South,s outstanding political leaders. At the Tennessee Negro suffrage convention (only seven weeks after Appomattox) , Rapier asserted in a keynote address that freedmen under stood "the burdens of citizenship" and were ready to perform them. At the first Alabama Republican state convention (1867) , he helped draft a document, which, among other things, called for free speech, free press, free schools, and "equal rights for all men without distinctions on account of color." And later, at the state's constitutional convention, he strove both to remove the political disabilities of ex-Confederates and secure equal rights for Negroes, arguing for a moderate disfranchisement clause, a lenient oath of office, and a common carriers section in the bill of rights. He served as assessor (1871-1873) and collector (1878-1883) of internal revenue, positions of great political influence, and though defeated (1870) as the first black candidate for state office, he later (1872) won a seat in the United States Congress, where he pushed through legislation making Mont-gomery a port of delivery, and delivered an eloquent address in support of the 1875 civil rights law. "Not a few rebel scribblers in the press might envy Rapier," one Republican newspaper said, "[for] his talent, education, intelligence and [political] influence."

Additional Information

Alabama Review 28 (July 1975):185-201
Language: English
Date: 1975
James Thomas Rapier, Reconstruction, United States Congress

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