After Slavery: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Emancipation Carolinas

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Reconstruction in South Carolina: 1861-1876

Reconstruction in South Carolina was an era defined by volatile political struggles over who would determine the past meanings and future directions of power in the state. The new State Constitution in 1868 introduced revolutionary democratic changes, including removing the racial and property barriers for obtaining the right to vote. With a black population majority voting, many African Americans in the Republican Party became elected state officials for the first time in history. Despite various attempts at negotiation and "fusion" government policies, the tensions between Republicans and Democrats eventually erupted into violent conflicts, particularly during the 1876 gubernatorial campaign. White Democrats, led by former Confederate general Wade Hampton, ultimately regained political power, particularly with the end of federal enforcement of Reconstruction in 1877. The rights that African Americans in South Carolina fought to obtain during this era eroded under the new regime, particularly with the reinforcement of the 1865 Black Codes as Jim Crow laws in the 1890s. These laws would not begin to be repealed in the United States until the 1950s.