After SlaVery A Pop Up Museum held on November 29, 2018

Undergraduate students enrolled in BUI 301-015 Slavery, Emancipation and the University of Alabama seminar spent the Fall 2018 semester exploring the campus history of slavery and its legacy. Instead of traditional presentations of their final projects, they curated a pop up museum exhibition exploring one of the important legacies of enslaved campus laborers. After slavery, these men, women, and children forged new lives and created new communal institutions with other African Americans living in Tuscaloosa.

By selecting artifacts exploring the themes of family, education, and politics, they enthusiastically showcased their findings to the wider UA campus and Tuscaloosa community.

This is a virtual version of the students’ collective efforts.


Creating Individual and Religious Families


After the Civil War, many freedpeople sought after family they were separated from due to slavery. While some were reunited, many never located their families; as a result, they created alternative families. This section highlights the various families created and reunited during Reconstruction.

Image: “Unidentified African American men,” Wade Hall Small Collection, W. S.. Hoole Special Collections, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Family Artifact #1: Garland Family Tree created using the 1880 and 1900 Federal Censuses, Ancestry.com.

This is the Garland Family Tree that depicts the family of former slaves Cornelius and Georgia Ann Garland, who were owned by President Garland of the University of Alabama. Cornelius and Georgia Ann Garland were born in Virginia, which is where President Garland resided before becoming President of The University of Alabama. It is known that Cornelius and Ann Garland at least lived into their late fifties. Their last known residence is Birmingham, Alabama where they lived with most of their children along with their son-in-law and grandchildren.

This Family Tree is an exact representation of defining family during the Reconstruction era. Slave owners rarely kept slave families together, therefore it is rather rare to have a representation of a slave family that not only stayed together but also prospered after the end of the slave era. For example, Mary Garland went on to pursue a career in teaching. During Reconstruction, former enslaved people started to express their new-found freedom by forming nuclear families that would allow them to create family traditions and lineages.

Family Artifact #2: 1900 Census, Ancestry.com.

This documentation lists the entire household of the Garland family when they resided in Birmingham, Alabama. In this household alone, there are three generations of Garlands represented. These generations include: Cornelius and Georgia Ann Garland, six of their nine children, and their two grandchildren. It is now known that Annie Garland married Abram Brawdy in 1891. They later had two children: one boy named Willis Brawdy and one girl named Charlie Brawdy.

It is extremely rare to discover nuclear families during and after the slave era. Slave holders frequently separated their slaves by separating husbands from wives, fathers and mothers from children and siblings from siblings. The concept of having at least an immediate family was foreign, and the ability for enslaved people to have nuclear families that were kept together long enough to recognize generations is a phenomenon during and after Reconstruction. Most former slaves were posting information wanted ads during Reconstruction in order to reunite with their family, which rarely gave any results. Therefore, the Garland family is one exception of the reality of most former enslaved people of the Reconstruction period.

Family Artifact #3: “Untitled,” The Independent Monitor (Tuscaloosa, AL), September 15, 1868, 3, Newspapers.com.

This newspaper clipping from the Independent Monitor reports on the actions of Cornelius Garland who pledged as a supporter of the Democratic party in 1868 in order to remove himself and his family from the “Black List”.

During Reconstruction, newly-freed African Americans utilized their freedom to become active members in politics. The insurgence of African American men who registered to vote in the late 1860’s started to identify with Reconstruction policy, which did not bode well with the Democratic party. The Ku Klux Klan became a prominent and horrifying source of violence not only for politically active African Americans but for any supporters of the Reconstruction policy. There are numerous accounts of Klan violence directed at the families of opposing supporters in order to deter them from voting for Republican policies. Tuscaloosa was no exception, and in 1868 there were numerous murders at the hands of the Klan. This newspaper clipping demonstrates the attempt Cornelius made to protect the family that had remained together throughout the suppression of slavery.

Family Artifact #4: “Edmond Bedford searching for his relatives,” Information Wanted Ad, The Southwestern Christian Advocate (New Orleans, LA), July 24, 1884, accessed October 25, 2018, http://informationwanted.org. Transcription: Mr. Editor. I wish to inquire for my relatives. I had four sisters – Sallie, Rachel, Ellen and Lizzie. Ellen was burned to death. I had two half brothers, William and Hiram. Mother was Frankie McMillan, father I never saw. I believe his name was Bedford. Hiram was living in Tuscaloosa county, Alabama, the last I heard of him, and brother William was in in Danville. My name then was Edward McMillan and is now Bedford. My owner in slave time was Jim McMillan. I was brought to Texas by Jack Grove and Woodruff. Address me at Hallettsville, Texas, care of Sam Grant. – Edmond Bedford.

Many freedpeople were not as lucky as those who reunited with their families. During reconstruction a large number of African Americans paid to put advertisements in the paper known as “Information wanted” Ads or “Last Seen” Ads. These advertisements were put in as many news-papers as the person could afford; they were also often read aloud in church, as many former slaves could not read.

In these ads, freedpeople had no choice but to jigsaw pieces and parts of stories to “generate leads” about their loved ones. As a result, many ads look like this one: a large lump some of all the information possibly useful in finding a loved one.

Family Artifact #5: “Boarding House,” Tuskaloosa Gazette, June 8, 1882, Newspapers.com. Transcription: “I am an old maid, and live in a second rate boarding-house, and probably the world at large would agree with my niece Elinor when she says: ‘Such a dreadful life, auntie! How can you bear the monotony, to say nothing of the annoyance?’”

During slavery, many families were torn apart with no courtesy given to the age of the children at separation or the traumatic guilt of the mother. Some children, though, were able to be sold with their mothers. As a result, many women and children were left alone and effectively widowed following emancipation. While they did not lose hope, women needed to form support systems for their mental stability as well as the overall well being of their children.

This led to the formation of “Boarding Houses,” also called “Refugee homes” or “Mission Houses” due to their affiliation with the church. These alternative, chosen families allowed women to raise their children with as much help as possible

Family Artifact #6: “Clabe Garland Dead,” obituary, Tuskaloosa Gazette, July 9, 1891, Newspapers.com.

Many African American obituaries during Reconstruction, such as this one of a former enslaved campus laborer, do not mention any family members or next of kin. Although this man was appreciated so much that “many people…will be sorry to hear of his death,” it seems as if Clabe never found his loved ones. This was likely the harsh reality of working for one’s former master. A person might have been shunned by the community for remaining subservient or may have been prevented from finding his or her family by the employer.

Unfortunately for many freedpeople, this was how their lives ended. Many never found their families. This doesn’t mean they were alone though, as churches, schools and boarding houses all served the purpose of creating an alternative family to support one another.

Family Artifact #7: Collage of "1865 Tuscaloosa First Baptist Church Records," W. S. Hoole Special Collections, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

The records from the First Baptist church in 1865 signified that the colored people were organizing to separate from the church. This is the first time that the colored people stated they wanted to leave, under the guide of Brother Prince Murrell. Prince Murrell, at the time was referred to as “Bro Drysdale (Murrell) be set apart for ordination to become a pastor” was set to become a pastor, through the church. The First Baptist church, in this segment of the records, was seemingly supporting the new Church. Recommending to “[s]ave their money weekly, to become economical in all expenses” and aiding in their endeavors.

Family Artifact #8: Collage of "1866 Manly Diaries Entry," Manly Family Papers, W. S. Hoole Special Collections, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, ​http://purl.lib.ua.edu/62691.

Basil Manly’s titles this diary entry “Separation of Colored Members from the Baptist Church.” Manly was the former president of the University of Alabama and spoke against the colored population often. The entry states, “Today we had evidence of their wish to withdraw suddenly, in a disorderly manner...”

Manly’s reaction was not uncommon. Many people did not like the idea of freedpeople gaining more opportunity. Manly also spoke ill of Prince Murrell becoming a Pastor, “Prince Murrell, without authority or the knowledge of the church he went to mobile in Nov. of last year.” He saw this as dishonesty.

Family Artifact #9: Collage of "1866 Tuscaloosa First Baptist Church Records," W. S. Hoole Special Collections, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

This is the final statement detailing the withdraw of African American congregants from the First Baptist Church.

July 2, 1866 was the first time recorded that the “colored people” were plotting to leave the congregation. On August 6th, the congregation was officially separated and 25 people followed Prince Murrell to form the new church.

The reaction wasn't pleasant compared to the original decree in 1865. It then stated that in order for The First African American Baptist Church to congregate, they will have to raise “’$1800’ to relieve it from debt...” In today’s dollars, this would now be about $27,750.

Transcription: One day last week a member of Rev. Prince Murrell’s negro Baptist church was sent around by that coal-black saint with a petition to white people, asking for pecuniary aid to effect the completion of a new edifice. Strange to say, many of our citizens did subscribe sums of money. This is the identical Prince Murrell who, last fall, delivered an incendiary, false and malicious harangue in the Court House on the occasion of the pretended negro-emigration meeting. His talk was, as reported to and published by us, very bitter against the whites. He stated that thousands of negroes had been killed in Alabama, of which bloody crimes no account had been rendered; that their bodies had floated down the Warrior river by the hundreds, etc. And yet, despite these vile slanders emanating from the labrose [sic] mouth of this black skinned, black souled, kinky heady person, white men have been found willing to sustain him in this community!...

In 1867, Prince Murrell formally established First African Baptist Church. Murrell and his congregation frequently faced ridicule from white newspapers in Tuscaloosa, such as in this 1875 article from ​The Tuskaloosa Gazette​. Nevertheless, Murrell was a leading figure in Tuscaloosa’s Black community, the first teacher of African American students in the city, and a key figure in forming

The centralization of the church and the familial relationships that were conceived from its institution were essential to overcoming slander from white publications. First African Baptist is still a prominent church in Tuscaloosa today.

Family Artifact #11: “What the Negroes of Tuscaloosa Are Accomplishing,” Tuscaloosa News and Times-Gazette, May 29, 1916, 6, Newspapers.com.

This page from a 1916 Centennial edition of the Tuscaloosa News and Times-Gazette​ attempts to recount the history of African Americans in Tuscaloosa. Church life consumes a majority of the page and is deemed the “‘mecca’ for the colored race in Tuscaloosa."

This page is noteworthy for what it does not mention about the church. For African Americans, the church was a new family for those affected by the separation that slavery caused. Churches and church publications can also be credited with efforts to reunite biological families.

Family Artifact #12: “Rev. L. S. Steinback in the Act of Baptism,” in Charles Octavius Boothe, ​The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama: Their Leaders and Their Work ​(Birmingham: Birmingham Pub. Co., 1895), 33.

Reverend L.S. Steinback was a teacher, preacher, missionary, and farmer. He personally embodied the centrality of the First African Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa when he started preaching there in the late 1800s.

Charles Octavius Boothe said of Steinback: “​[He] is an example which is well calculated to encourage poor, struggling young men to overcome difficulties and rise anyhow--rise in spite of difficulties”[1]. Steinback and other prominent church figures often served as parental figures of children left orphaned by the slave trade.

Concluding Thoughts

While some biological families separated by slavery were reunited, most African Americans were not as lucky. Previously enslaved people separated from their family by the slave trade formed familial bonds within their community. The church played a fundamental part in establishing these connections because it was at the center of society. Institutions like First African Baptist Church were spiritual places, schools, meeting houses, and sources of information. African American families during Reconstruction were not defined by biological relationships but by the shared experiences of persevering extreme cruelty and racism.


From Freedmen’s Schools to Stillman College


Through the development of Freedmen Bureau, private, and public schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, education during Reconstruction was a vital part of developing black communities.

Image: Tuscaloosa Weekly Times, May 12, 1899.

Education Artifact #1: School No.1 Report from District 1 Tuscaloosa Freedmen’s Bureau School (1866), BRFAL-ED-AL, FamilySearch.org.

This 1866 school report by Charles C. Ames, a white teacher, details what early Freedmen's Bureau schools were like for students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This detailed report shows the names and ages of students, their subject grades, and their attendance records.

The report shows that in a class of fifty-five students, student ages ranged from seven to forty-three. This is indicative of both the necessity and the desire for education among all age groups at the time. The document also shows the financial struggle faced by early schools. In a class of fifty-five students only thirteen were able to pay tuition.

Education Artifact #2: Tuscaloosa Freedman’s Bureau Sub-District School Survey, BRFAL-ED-AL, FamilySearch.org. Response to Q8 regarding teacher demographics: “All that are teaching, do so on their own account, and are Col’d except one.”
Response to Q15 regarding northern associations working in Tuscaloosa: “None, that I know of.”

This school assessment survey from June 26, 1868 was sent to the R.D Harper, the Superintendent of Education for the Alabama Freedmen’s Bureau schools, by Robert Blair, the Sub-Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau in the sub-district of Tuscaloosa. The survey details the issues faced by the district of Tuscaloosa when creating and maintaining schools on behalf of the Bureau.

The safety risk faced by northern teachers coming to the district is addressed in question seven – “Are there any place in your district where northern teachers could safely be employed, and sustained by tuition fees?” Blair replies that northern teachers will only be safe while teaching in the district if the military is present to protect them.

Education Artifact #3: “Timeline of Allen A. Williams,” BRFAL-ED-AL, FamilySearch.org.

This timeline and its attached documents detail the struggles faced by Freedmen’s Bureau school teachers in Tuscaloosa by telling the story of Allen A. Williams, a Tuscaloosa freedman and teacher.

Mr. Williams taught at various Bureau schools in Tuscaloosa, including the first Freedman’s Bureau school in the area which was founded in October of 1865. As a Bureau schoolteacher, Williams struggled with financial difficulties, fluctuating attendance, and racial violence and harassment. Williams taught school in Tuscaloosa for a little under two years before this racial violence forced him to leave the area.

Education Artifact #4: "Masonic Order Meets at Selma,” Oakland Sunshine (Oakland, CA), October 23; 1915, Newspapers.com.

Black newspapers across the country found southern black political mobilization of particular interest. This 1915 Oakland Sunshine article mentions Jeremiah Barnes, a public school teacher in Tuscaloosa who taught during the Reconstruction and was also a Free Mason.

At the reported meeting in Selma, members were lauded for gains in education, and Barnes was part of a vote against a bill that would prohibit white teachers from teaching in black schools. Barnes' participation in meetings like these shows the dual role that many teachers played as both educators and community leaders.

Education Artifact #5: “Jeremiah Barnes' Will and Testament,” Wills, 1821-1928, Alabama. Probate Court (Tuscaloosa County), Tuscaloosa. Alabama, Ancestry.com.

In his 1908 will and testament, Barnes allotted portions of his property, located in West Tuscaloosa where Pine and Deer Street met, to his wife Dema and his sons Henry Alexander, William Smart, and Jesse Ryland.

Barnes’s home is also where he provided lodging to Elsie Carpenter, a young, black woman who had just come to Tuscaloosa. to teach in a public school. During Reconstruction, it was common for black teachers to provide lodging for their black and white peers, as they were paid less per pupil and were often subject to housing discrimination and physical violence.

Education Artifact #6: “1894 Map of Tuscaloosa,” Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. Sanborn Map Company, June, 1889. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanbom00 102 002/.

This fire insurance map is useful for determining the kind of spaces that were deemed noteworthy in the Reconstruction era. It also reveals what certain buildings were made of. On this map is a day school at a black Baptist church, as well as two white public schools.

Like the day school, many black schools were built with wooden frames, and they were often subject to arson. In contrast, the white schools were made of brick. Due to their proximity to other shared landmarks, urban black schools were usually safer than rural ones.

Education Artifact #7: Major General Wager Swayne, cdv, ADAH

Major General Wager Swayne was a Yale alumni and lawyer. He resided in Montgomery and was a great advocate towards keeping the African-American schools open. General Swayne was the main proponent towards helping with the operation of the private schools for African Americans.

Major Swayne was a large benefactor towards the Freedman Bureau schools, which is a very important reason that the African-American private schools were able to stay open. One of the ways General Wager was able to be of huge aid to these African-American schools was the fact that he was able to fund money after the schools would be burned down by the Ku Klux Klan.

Education Artifact #8: Unidentified African American woman, cabinet card, Louisville, KY, Wade Hall Small Collection (2009.054), W. S. Hoole Special Collections, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

This picture is a great depiction of the typical attire for a teacher during this era. There is no visual of Miss Kernan herself, but this picture is a great visual of this time. One of the most influential teachers during the Reconstruction era was a lady by the name of Miss Kernan. Miss Kernan was a teacher at the Lincoln Normal School. This school was located in Marion, Alabama and specialized in teacher training. It was also part of the Freedman’s Bureau, which, similar to Major General Wager Swayne, was the chief reason African-American schools were able to stay open during this tumultuous time.

One of the most important aspects of Miss Kernan was the fact that she liberated many African-American students by offering them education. Education is the great equalizer in this world, and Miss Kernan was able to offer this equalizer to children who were not as privileged as their white peers.

Education Artifact #9: Samuel Lowery and Ruth M. Lowery, Fundraising Appeal (front), circular, MSS.1731, W. S. Hoole Special Collections, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.
Back of the Samuel Lowery and Ruth M. Lowery, Fundraising Appeal, W. S. Hoole Special Collections, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

The Lowery Industrial Academy is an important part of the Reconstruction process because it promotes private schools during the Reconstruction period. The Lowery Industrial School did not believe that public schools were sufficient enough during this time. All wanted the African American schools to prosper, and they saw this happening by promoting the Private schools during this era.

Education Artifact # 10: Chapel. Stillman Institute, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA.

This photo shows Stillman’s original chapel, one of the first buildings erected on campus. This picture was taken by Jackson Davis, an educational superintendent for all African American schools in Virginia during Jim Crow. He went on a tour of Tuscaloosa in the early 1900s, photographing the earliest buildings of Stillman’s campus. Stillman is the only historically black college or university that is currently funded by the Presbyterian Church. It is also the only historically black college in the city of Tuscaloosa.

Education Artifact 11: Timeline of Stillman College's Early History

The idea for the Tuscaloosa Institute was proposed in 1875, and classes were being held by 1876. Although the school brought new opportunities to Tuscaloosa’s black community, it was met with opposition. Violence was prevalent in the town, as shown by the lynching that happened in 1884. Most people did not approve of C.A. Stillman’s eagerness to educate the black population, but he persisted in his efforts and kept educating. Stillman’s enrollment continued to grow throughout the late 1800s.

Education Artifact #12: Excerpt of the “Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the Institute for the Training of Colored Ministers.” Stillman, C.A. January 1, 1891. 5.

Although created for seminary training, Stillman’s studies were later expanded to include basic studies. It’s showed that students were being taught Bible history, English grammar, and even some Latin. The Executive Committee wanted students to be Presbyterian or be connected to the church.

This portion of the report also shows that the executive committee were quite critical of students; especially so, considering black students had not been given the opportunity of organized education until Reconstruction.

Concluding Thoughts

It is important to recognize the white backlash against efforts to further black education during Reconstruction -- arson, harassment and banishing of teachers, and apprenticeship of children. However, despite resistance, these institutions and people helped develop a community that was able to withstand the evil peril of racism and withhold the commitment to excellence and perseverance.

The Politics of Reconstruction

Early African American Electoral Participation


At the dawn of the Civil War, many different groups and ideas formed in an attempt to seize political power in response to the decimated political structure in Alabama.

Image: Currier and Ives, “The First Colored Senator and Representatives - in the 41st and 42nd Congress of the United States,” 1872, Library of Congress.

Politics Artifact #1: “Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands labor contract,” W. S. Hoole Collections, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

In addition to the foundation of social services for Freedmen, including the creation of schools and hospitals, the Freedmen’s Bureau focused on the negotiation of labor between freedmen and landowners, who were commonly former slaveowners.

In this contract, written by a representative of the Underwood estate in the name of the freedmen, the Freedmen’s Bureau requires that additional portions of the crop are given to the freedmen before it can be approved and become effective. All labor agreements that included freedmen had to be approved by the Freedmen’s Bureau before they were regarded as legal.

Politics Artifact #2: “Alabama, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office records, 1865-1872,” FamilySearch.org.

If labor agreements, such as the this document, were violated, freedmen had the ability to file official complaints and affidavits with the Freedmen’s Bureau. These complaints were then to be followed up by Bureau officials and could be resolved in or out of local courts.

This document is the official Record of Complaints kept by the Tuscaloosa branch of the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1866. In it, a freedman John claimed that W. Elrod violated their labor contract by holding on to corn owed to John for labor he, his wife, and his mother-in-law completed. This and other cases were resolved mostly by “settl[ing] the bill,” as noted on this document.

Politics Artifact #3: “Wager Swayne,” photograph with handwritten inscription, ADAH.

Wager Swayne was the head of The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, more commonly known as the Freedman’s Bureau in Alabama, immediately following the Civil War. His direction of Reconstruction efforts largely affected the lives of both Freedmen and landowners. His initial conciliatory approach to the previous white local governments allowed pro-Confederate Democrats to continue control the state, thus creating a more challenging environment for Freedmen and other African Americans in Alabama to create an identity and gain power.

Politics Artifact #4: Ryland Randolph, "White Man - Right or Wrong - Still the White Man,” Independent Monitor (Tuscaloosa, AL), August 18th 1868, 2, Newspapers.com. Transcription: “Are you making preparations of welcome for the counterfeit Faculty? If not, you have no time to lose, for the vile components thereof will be along soon. The papers, throughout the State, have pretty well described such of these as are not nondescripts, so I need not tire you with further mention of their antecedents. Rev. Lakin is a fair specimen of a Yankee. His family live on an equal footing with negroes. The others I have not seen, but learn that they are no better than the President (so-called). Somebody from Tuskaloosa has given them an awful bing scare about the prospect of an uprising of the mythical Ku Klux Klan, now that the military has been withdrawn. Lakin has made many inquiries as to whether his Radical carcass would be safe from a removal to the bone-yard, should he domiciliate amongst your rebellious people. I think an order from the Grand Cyclops, immediately upon his arrival, would so demoralize him and his brothers in ignorance, that they would incontinently turn tail for their “hums.”

Tuscaloosa newspaper editor Ryland Randolph furiously attacks University of Alabama President Rev. Arad S. Lakin on his political beliefs towards black equality and Reconstruction. Randolph explains that someone from Tuscaloosa threatened Rev. Lakin with a Ku Klux Klan attack, although Randolph denies the KKK’s existence. This document shows the violent rhetoric used by Klan members/apologists towards Reconstruction supporters that often translated to physical violence. In this case, violent Klan attacks forced Lakin to flee Tuscaloosa.

Politics Artifact #5: “The Ku-Klux Klan." The Livingston Journal, March 28, 1868, 3, Newspapers.com.

The Livingston Journal (Livingston, AL) published a document that the Ku Klux Klan spread around town to signal their arrival. The Klan forced papers to publish these notices under threat of violence. The document shows one method the Klan used to obtain political and social power in western Alabama after the Civil War.

Politics Artifact #6: Richmond Walker, "Hunting Ku Klux," Los Angeles Daily Herald, September 18, 1887, 9, Newspapers.com. Transcription: “I improved the time of the journey to begin the investigation I had come to make; but I soon discovered that I was fishing in barren waters. Bill, the driver, knew nothing about Ku Klux, or at least said he didn’t. He had not heard of anybody’s being killed, or whipped, or otherwise hurt. The Yankees-Federal soldiers-were up at Livingston, but he didn’t know what they were there for. He knew nothing about the election. He had heard of Mas’r Grant and Mas’r Lincoln, but every other Northern name was “Greek” to him. He had never heard of Mr. Sumner or his civil rights bill; never of Greeley (although Mr. Greeley had been the Democratic candidate for the Presidency two years before); of Garrison, of Phillips; never of any of the statesmen of the North, who were then struggling to place the freedom of the negro upon a permanent basis. His dense ignorance and stupidity were past comprehension. But to one thing I made up my mind. Affairs at Livingston and in Sumter county must be moving pretty much in the accustomed grooves, or even this stupid negro would know of disturbance.”

Northern reporter Richmond Walker attempts to locate Ku Klux Klan activity in western Alabama. He meets Bill, a black driver who knew nothing about Ku Klux Klan activity or any political groups formed to sustain black equality in the south. This article shows that black southerners may have hid information from northern reporters due to fear of reactionary Klan violence.

Politics Artifact #7: “Local Intelligence,” Independent Monitor (Tuscaloosa, AL), February 23, 1869, 3, Newspapers.com. Transcription: Shandy Jones, the mulatto gorilla, that had the audacity to pretend to represent this county in the so-styled Legislature at Montgomery, is still strutting these streets. To think that there are white men so dead to decency as to grasp this fellow by the paw. Bah! It is truly sickening! We have a curiosity to know how long this negro rascal will be allowed to remain here. He still performs tonsorial duties at the shop below Dossie Roberts, and has many “rebel” patrons. He lives in what is known as “New Town.”

Shandy Wesley Jones was Tuscaloosa’s first African American elected official. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives from the years of 1868 to 1870, and ran as a Republican. While serving as a representative, Jones was the target of constant attacks. The Independent Monitor, whose editor was Ryland Randolph, a notorious Klansman, was often the source of these attacks. This document shows just some of what he was subjected to during his tenure.

Political Artifact #8: “Radical Black-Tea Party: Pow-wow of Hays and Warner,” Independent Monitor (Tuscaloosa, AL), November 3, 1868, 2, Newspapers.com.

Charles Hays was a ‘scalawag’ Republican congressman for Alabama’s fourth congressional district. Elected in 1868, Hays was often a target of the press, being seen as a traitor for becoming a Republican after fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War. This political cartoon and article excerpt in the Independent Monitor displays the language that was used towards said ‘scalawags’ such as himself.

Politics Artifact # 9: “Noscitur a Sociis,” Independent Monitor (Tuscaloosa, AL), August 23, 1870, 2, Newspapers.com.

Despite serving as the Democratic candidate for the fourth congressional district a couple years earlier, Dr. John B. Read was not immune to the attacks of the Independent Monitor and its readers across Tuscaloosa. Although being given much more respect compared to African American and/or Republican candidates, his fraternization with said candidates made him an enemy towards those strongly opposed to Reconstruction and its policies. This clipping from the Independent Monitor, which serves as an introduction to a letter of self-defense by Read, shows the extremely partisan climate of Tuscaloosa at the time.

Politics Artifact # 10: 1867 Tuscaloosa County Voter Registration List, ADAH.

The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 mandated that all eligible men, white and black, had to be registered with the census and registered to vote in order for Alabama to be readmitted into the United States. These 1867 voting rolls for Tuscaloosa County show the amount of white and black men registered to vote as a result, with 1,755 white men and 1,651 African American men.

Politics Artifact # 11: “Speech of Geo. W. Cox” and “Address Delivered at Tuscaloosa by George W. Cox (Colored),” Daily State Sentinel (Montgomery, AL), June 24, 1867, 2, Newspapers.com. Transcription: "Everybody should read the address delivered by Geo. W. Cox, a colored man, at Tuscaloosa, on the evening of the 13th inst. Particularly, should every colored man in Alabama read it, and those who cannot read, should have it read to them. It is an address full of truth and advice, that is worthy, not only the conversation of every colored man, but every white man can learn something from it. This speech, too, exhibits the best proof of the capability of the colored men to be improved. This man Cox was slave at the surrender of the rebel armies. He was raised up to blacksmithing, and when he was freed by the Government did not know a letter in the book, nor did he have the least idea of what writing was. He never has been to school a day, but by close application during such times as he was not at work at the anvil, he has learned to read and write, and as to his ability, all can judge from the speech."

George Washington Cox was the African American registrar assigned to Tuscaloosa County during Reconstruction. In this excerpt from 1867 address given in Tuscaloosa, Cox highlights the importance of suffrage, particularly for freedmen. Furthermore, he asks the citizens of Tuscaloosa to support Reconstruction policy and voting rights rather than oppose them.

Politics Artifact # 12 : Excerpts of “The Farcical Election at the Court House box,” Independent Monitor (Tuscaloosa, AL), February 12, 1868, 2. Newspapers.com.

Ku Klux Klan leader Ryland Randolph’s “Black List” exposed the living and working places of people, usually African Americans, who supported Reconstruction and encouraged others to boycott their business or even harm them. Here, in “The Farcical Election at the Court House box,” Randolph tells readers to go to African American Dossie Robert’s business since he voted against ratifying the Reconstruction constitution. He also tells them to ignore and exile Shandy Jones, an African American politician who ran for the Alabama Legislature and supported Reconstruction policy.

Politics Artifact # 13: “A Prospective Scene in the ‘City of Oaks,’ March 4, 1869,” Independent Monitor (Tuscaloosa, AL), September 1, 1868, 7, Newspapers.com.

The editor of the Tuskaloosa Independent Monitor, Ryland Randolph, was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan who frequently published biased journalism and violent threats in his paper. The political cartoon and article above are just one example of the fear Randolph attempted to instill in any pro-Reconstruction community member in Tuscaloosa.

This image depicts the incoming university president, Rev. Arad Lakin, and Superintendent of Education, Dr. Noah Cloud, hanging from a tree limb as a donkey marked with a KKK walks out from under them. This “prospective scene” was alluding to the fate of progressive community members if a democratic president was sworn into office on March 4, 1869.

Politics Artifact # 14: United States Congress, Report of the Joint Select Committee Appointed to Inquire Into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States: Alabama, Volume X (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872), 1851-1852.

After the Civil War, a Congressional committee was appointed to investigate insurrectionary groups in the former confederate states. They targeted their investigation at violent and suppressive acts performed by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan to inhibit Reconstruction and maintain the political power dynamics that existed prior to the war.

The minutes from these hearings provide insight to the opinions and experiences of southerners during this period by offering anecdotal accounts from citizens on both sides of the issue. The above document is a sequence of questions asked to a pro-Reconstruction judge, Hon. E.W. Peck, on the murder of an African-American congressman by members of the KKK.

Politics Artifact # 15: “U.S. Government pardon for General Clayton, 1866," Henry De Lamar Clayton Sr. Papers, W. S. Hoole Special Collections, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Ex-Confederate military officers who fought in the Civil War were often pardoned for their offenses against the federal government in exchange for an oath of allegiance to the United States. Pictured here is the pardon given in 1866 to General H.D. Clayton, a prominent judge, slaveholder, and major general in the Confederate army.

The amnesty given by President Lincoln to ex-Confederates was meant to unite and heal the nation, but in doing so, it allowed these known white supremacists to continue holding public office. Having former slave holders and secessionists in positions of judicial and legislative power compromised the integrity of the office they held through a lack of objectivity in their decision-making.

Concluding Thoughts

As numerous hands grabbed at political power during Reconstruction, violence and divisiveness ensued. The efforts of African Americans to gain equality and the efforts of white supremacists to maintain power were two strong opposing forces whose collision was often violent and bloody. Through trial and error, African American leaders and pro-Reconstruction allies worked together to create a more equal society, though their efforts were often met with violent reactions by white, anti-Reconstruction Alabamians and hate groups. Despite these obstacles, African Americans continued the fight for equal rights and political representation throughout Reconstruction, and still today.

Coverage of Event

A Summary

Over 200 UA students, UA faculty, UA staff, Stillman College students and Tuscaloosans attended the special exhibition. All eagerly learned about the African American experience during the Long Reconstruction-era.


Class: BUI-015 Slavery, Emancipation, and the University of Alabama; Term: Fall 2018; Instructor: Hilary N. Green, Associate Professor, Department of Gender and Race Studies, University of Alabama.

Fred Whiting, Director, Blount Scholars Program; Flyer design: Elizabeth Myers, University of Alabama

Special thanks for the Archival assistance - Kate Matheny, Reference Services and Outreach Coordinator, W. S. Hoole Special Collections, University of Alabama

Student Curators

Amy Barber, History, Fall 2019; Alexandra Boehm, Mechanical Engineering, May 2022; Alexis Brinkmeyer, Public Health, Spring 2021

Emma Brown, Theatre, Spring 2021; Sarah Comino, Economics (Public Policy), May 2020; Katelin Faherty, International Studies, Political Science and Spanish, May 2021

Rebecca Griesbach, Journalism and African American Studies, August 2019; Ariel Jones, Anthropology and Nonprofit Studies, May 2021; Pedram Maleknia, Biology, May 2019; David R. Nuckles, Political Science, December 2019

Maggie Owens, Psychology, Pre-Med, May 2020; Anna Beth Peters, Political Science and Communication Studies, December 2020; Marlie Wells, Anthropology, May 2021

Primary Sources

ACUMEN, University of Alabama Libraries

Alabama Department of Archives and History Digital Collections (ADAH)




Stillman College, stillman.edu

W.S. Hoole Special Collections, University of Alabama Libraries

Secondary Sources

Brophy, Alfred L. University, Court, and Slave: Pro-Slavery Thought in Southern Colleges and Courts and the Coming of Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Fitzgerald, Michael W. Reconstruction in Alabama: From Civil War to Redemption in the Cotton South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2017.

Williams, Heather A. Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

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