The Afro-American Struggle to Acquire Land During Reconstruction and the Effects of their Failure: A Case Study of South Carolina, 1865-1900
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1987 H611
viii, 91 leaves; 29 cm.
After coming out of slavery, Blacks had great hopes of becoming equal citizens in America. They believed that the country was going to reward them for their many years of suffering and degradation by giving them land. They had a strong connection to the land and believed that it was going to make them economically independent in the South.
In South Carolina, perhaps more than in any other Southern state, Blacks felt that they were going to acquire significant amounts of land and start a new life in America. Attempts to acquire land became a struggle that started at the South Carolina State Constitutional Convention in 1868 when some Black delegates argued that land was crucial for Black development and without it the former slaves would be force to work as serfs for the same people who enslaved them for centuries.
As early as 1861, Blacks believed that they were going to get most of the abandoned lands of the South. And indeed some South Carolina Blacks did get land from General O.O Howard, but it was taken away from them because they only had possessory titles. This marked the beginning of years of disappointment.
This thesis is a case study of the land struggle in South Carolina. It looks at Black attempts to acquire land through the Federal Government and the South Carolina Land Commission. It examines the failure of this struggle and how it fits into the broader struggle for political, social, and economic rights in America.
By analyzing secondary and primary materials, this study probes Blacks' attempt to get land in South Carolina chronologically and offers some conclusions about why they failed and how this failure affected their development years later.