Reconstruction: Integration or Segregation


Holden’s implicit preference for “white” over “colored” labor was not a good sign; even those like Holden who supported the Union cause were averse to allowing the now-emancipated African Americans to avail themselves of the same economic opportunities afforded to whites. Holden, writing for the Standard on April 24, 1865, addresses the question concerning what is to be the future relationship of the two races after the war:

"If a state convention should abolish slavery, that body would most probably define the relations between the two races; and if the states should adopt the amendment proposed by Congress abolishing the institution, the latter body will define those relations. Meanwhile we say to the colored people remain where you are, cultivate habits of industry, preserve your morals against the manifold temptations that will beset you, and endeavor by your conduct to secure the respect and confidence of all good people."

This was an absolutely intolerable position to Albion Tourgee and others like him who advocated a policy of extending citizenship to all (men) without respect to color and, the supremacy of the national, not state, government to uphold the rights of that citizenship. Holden never explicitly entertains ideas of conferring citizenship on African Americans. The division between his and Tourgee’s basic beliefs in integrated versus segregated social and political development would be manifested again and again in years to come, even among African American leaders like Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois.

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 Memoirs of William H. Holden at Documenting the American South. Courtesy of Documenting the American South. 

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