In Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman, G. Ward Hubbs uses a stark and iconic political cartoon to illuminate postwar conflicts over the meaning of freedom in the American South.
The cartoon first appeared in the Tuskaloosa Independent Monitor, published by local Ku Klux Klan boss Ryland Randolph, as a swaggering threat aimed at three individuals. Hanged from an oak branch clutching a carpetbag marked “OHIO” is the Reverend Arad S. Lakin, the Northern-born incoming president of the University of Alabama. Swinging from another noose is Dr. Noah B. Cloud-agricultural reformer, superintendent of education, and deemed by Randolph a “scalawag” for joining Alabama’s reformed state government. The accompanying caption, penned in purple prose, similarly threatens Shandy Jones, a politically active local man of color.
Using a dynamic approach that interprets the same events through four points of view, Hubbs artfully unpacks numerous layers of meaning behind this brutal two-dimensional image.
The four men associated with the cartoon–Randolph, Lakin, Cloud, and Jones–were archetypes of those who were seeking to rebuild a South shattered by war. Hubbs explores these broad archetypes but also delves deeply into the four men’s life stories, writings, speeches, and decisions in order to recreate each one’s complex worldview and quest to live freely. Their lives, but especially their four very different understandings of freedom, help to explain many of the conflicts of the 1860s. The result is an intellectual tour de force.
General readers of this highly accessible volume will discover fascinating new insights about life during and after America’s greatest crisis, as will scholars of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and southern history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ward Hubbs is an associate professor, reference librarian, and archivist at Birmingham-Southern College; the editor of Rowdy Tales from Early Alabama: The Humor of John Gorman Barr; and the author of Guarding Greensboro: A Confederate Company in the Making of a Southern Community.
PRAISE FOR SEARCHING FOR FREEDOM AFTER THE CIVIL WAR
“Hubbs deftly demonstrates that a crude woodcut image from a nearly forgotten local newspaper can lead us, if we will examine it closely, toward a fuller understanding of individuals, their antecedents, and their interconnected times during this fascinating and pivotal era in American history.”
–Paul M. Pruitt Jr., author of Taming Alabama: Lawyers and Reformers, 1804-1929
“In a marvelously original approach for studying Reconstruction, Guy Hubbs takes an iconic political cartoon and uncovers the fascinating story behind it. But more than that, he uses four strikingly different characters to offer a deeply thoughtful meditation on the multiple meanings of freedom during one of the most tortuous and difficult periods of American history. This book dissects the fundamental values of another era, but the beliefs espoused by Arad Lakin, Noah B. Cloud, Ryland Randolph, and Shandy Jones resonate into our own time.”
–George C. Rable, author of God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War
6 X 9, 240 pp
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1860-4 Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8808-9 Ebook