Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman

Article excerpt

Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman. By G. Ward Hubbs. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2015. Pp. xvi, 223. $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8173-1860-4.)

G. Ward Hubbs, an archivist and librarian at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, claims that his book Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman is about a political cartoon featured in a September 1868 issue of the Independent Monitor, a Democratic newspaper published in Tuscaloosa. The cartoon actually was a technologically advanced woodcut depicting a carpetbagger and a scalawag hanging from a tree while a donkey with the letters KKK emblazoned across its body trotted away. The Reverend Arad S. Lakin, a white Methodist from New York who relocated to Alabama after the war, was the carpetbagger. He sought to reestablish the national denomination in the state and later was named president of the University of Alabama. Noah B. Cloud--a white physician, journalist, education official, and proponent of scientific agriculture from South Carolina--was the scalawag. A prewar Whig who served as a Confederate surgeon, Cloud eventually became a Republican and chaired the Alabama Board of Education. Cloud and Lakin were harassed by sociopolitical conservatives such as Ryland Randolph, the editor of the immensely partisan Monitor, who also sat briefly in the Alabama House of Representatives and helped organize a statewide Klan.

Lakin, Cloud, Randolph, and Shandy Jones, a black politician and businessman who advocated for emigration to Liberia, are the main characters in Hubbs's narrative. A separate chapter is devoted to each person, but Randolph is clearly the leading figure. Beyond recounting his life and times, Hubbs attempts to humanize Randolph, an unabashed racist whose brutality caused the Alabama House and the state Democratic Party to expel him. Instead of a deadly Klansman whose atheism lessened his fear of godly retribution, the Randolph whom Hubbs imagines was a learned, self-assertive Romantic whose desire to recapture the unhindered freedom that he and other white Alabamians experienced before the war led him to oppose the "concentrated power" of the central government and universal equality for freedpeople (p. …

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