Type of Document Dissertation Author Strickland, Jeffery G URN etd-09042003-180216 Title Ethnicity And Race In The Urban South: German Immigrants And African-Americans In Charleston South Carolina During Reconstruction Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Neil Betten Committee Chair Elna Green Committee Member Joe Richardson Committee Member John Lunstrum Committee Member Rodney Anderson Committee Member Keywords
- German Immigrant And African-American Politicic
Date of Defense 2003-06-01 Availability unrestricted AbstractGermans and African-Americans exhibited a significant degree of economic, social, and
political interaction in Reconstruction Charleston. Race and ethnic relations between Germans and African-Americans tended to be more positive than those between blacks and white
southerners and challenged southern social norms. During Reconstruction, a small but economically and politically significant community of German immigrants thrived in Charleston, South Carolina. The overwhelming majority of Germans in Charleston had immigrated between 1850 and the Civil War. They worked primarily as merchants, shopkeepers, and skilled artisans, but a minority of them worked as laborers, domestic servants, and other service-related occupations. Germans often lived in the same neighborhoods, buildings, and even households as African-Americans. Interracial relations between Germans and African-Americans challenged social conventions of the time and drew criticism from southerners. In several instances Germans and African-Americans entered into sexual relations and even married. Following the Civil War, some southerners and German elites in Charleston considered attracting German immigrants to stimulate the economy or replace black laborers. However, German immigrants
lacked to desire to settle there, and southerners had hostile views toward German immigrants and
never committed to a program that would successfully attract Germans to the South.
Many Germans owned and operated successful businesses and sometimes they faced the scrutiny of southerners. Germans shopkeepers catered to African-American consumer demand and sometimes sold items to blacks on credit. German middle-class businessmen organized social clubs based on their cultural heritage. The German Rifle Club leadership organized its annual Schutzenfest, and the members invited southerners and African-Americans to attend. In the annual Schutzenfest parade, German elites expressed their willingness to become southern whites and contribute to white political ascendancy. African-Americans demonstrated their own political and martial power at Fourth of July and Emancipation Day parades in which the entire community participated in the procession.
German and African-American political cooperation and conflict posed a tremendous problem for southerners. Southern whites called for German Democratic political support, but African-Americans appealed to Germans as well, evidence that Germans held moderate views.
Throughout Reconstruction, Germans divided themselves between both political parties, but
politically active Germans gradually moved toward the Democratic Party.
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