After the Civil War, former slaves were encouraged to participate in a free-labor economy. But much of the South lay in ruins. It was difficult to find work, much less start enterprising careers.
There is a deficiency in many recent histories that ignores how more than a few African-Americans found a way to prosper even during difficult times. African-Americans often were agents of change, even within a repressive environment. It is important to recognize how black entrepreneurs and property holders found niches of liberty within an oppressive system, and to examine the lessons we can learn from their experiences.
Matthew Calbraith Butler was a member of the southern gentry and a Confederate General from South Carolina during the American Civil War. He served under the command of General Wade Hampton and his valor and good judgment earned him numerous promotions. Butler served at the First Battle of Bull Run, the Confederate Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Brandy Station, the Overland Campaign, Petersburg, and the Carolinas Campaign. During the Carolinas Campaign, Butler was a major general and one of the leading officers in the Confederate Cavalry. After the war, Butler became a United States Senator from South Carolina and eventually the vice president of the Southern Historical Association.
Wade Hampton III was one of the richest plantation owners in the South. He served as a general for the Confederacy during the United States Civil War and was engaged in battles, including Bull Run, Gettysburg, and Bentonville, from the beginning until the very end of the war. Hampton became the leader of Robert E. Lee’s cavalry forces, and he was sent southward at the end of the war to stop General Sherman. Hampton played an important role in the fighting in North Carolina. After the war, Hampton was elected as governor of South Carolina and served as a U.S. Senator.
The Fayetteville Observer is one of North Carolina’s oldest and largest independent newspapers.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse is located on the Outer Banks in Corolla, North Carolina. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1973; the lighthouse is the last brick lighthouse built on the Outer Banks.
A North Carolina native, Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate and in U.S. Congress
Josephus Daniels was a prominent journalist and newspaper editor from North Carolina. He purchased the Raleigh News and Observer in 1894 and became a leading “New South” political commentator. He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as Secretary of the Navy during World War I. He later served as ambassador to Mexico under President Franklin Roosevelt.
Mary T. Martin Sloop was a physician and educator from Davidson, North Carolina. She played an instrumental role in educational efforts and reform in western North Carolina. In particular, she established the Crossnore School for mountain children.
Cornelia Phillips Spencer was not only a North Carolina poet, historian, and journalist but also a leader in the reopening of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after it survived five, dormant years during Reconstruction.