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Emancipation and the Beginning of Reconstruction in South Carolina

“The echoes of Reconstruction are heard even in the 21st century.  “The first Black state legislator (or governor) since Reconstruction…” is the typical context for which history books and periodicals provide historical context for government appointees. Many are led to believe the road to redemption and representation occurred many years after the emancipation of the slaves;  However, the complicated history of Radical Reconstruction, which occurred as early as the decade of the 1870s, was the first time African Americans were in control of the state government in South Carolina.”

Moore, D.

The Celebration of Emancipation At The South Carolina State House in 1870

The early morning sun of January 1, 1870, was rising in the winter sky behind the magnificent granite of the South Carolina capitol. Like a phoenix, the State House rose out of the ruins of Sherman’s march through Columbia.

It was bout 11 a.m. when a crowd of blacks began forming a procession blocks away from the capitol in front of Janney’s Hall. There was not a white man in the procession. Religious leaders followed carrying bibles and hymnbooks. What a day of jubilation for freedmen of Columbia and the surrounding vicinity. Marching in a drill formation what a large brass band. There was a highstepping procession, gathering a crowd as it moved through principal streets toward the capitol grounds.

In front of the building, a large platform had been erected, arched with evergreens and patriotic banners. The national flag stood center stage. It was the day to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Proclamation of Emancipation of January 1, 1863. On the stage were representatives of the Reconstruction legislature…

Politics and Government

One of the results of Reconstruction was blacks voted, could be elected to office, and could become active members of a national political party. The Reconstruction Acts admitted the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama to representation in U.S. Congress. The state legislature in South Carolina consisted of 57 write men and 98 black men…

Excerpt from Black America Series Columbia South Carolina. Copyright Vennie Deas Moore, 2000.

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