Radical Members of the South Carolina Legislature

south carolina2.jpg

Attributed to J. G. Gibbes, Radical Members of the So. Ca. [South Carolina] Legislature, no date [ca. 1868?]. Albumen photograph. GA 2009.01025 and GA 2009.01024

south carolina.jpg

Graphic Arts has two copies of this photograph of the 1868 South Carolina legislature, one slightly larger, 16 x 13 cm and one with a caption 7.5 x 5.5 cm.

The composite image documents the implementation of the Reconstruction Act of 1867, which redesigned the governing bodies of the southern states after the American Civil War. Not only did African Americans have the right to vote, but also serve within the government. When South Carolina rejoined the Union in 1868, they had the first state legislature with a black majority.

Created to frighten the white population, this image was widely distributed in many sizes and formats. One of our copies includes the text: These are the photographs of 63 members of the reconstructed South Carolina Legislature, 50 of whom are negroes or mulattoes and 13 white. 22 read and write (8 grammatically), the remainder (41) make their mark with the aid of an amanuensis. Nineteen (19) are tax-payers to an aggregate amount of $146.10, the rest (44) pay no taxes, and the body levies on the white people of the State for $4,000.00.

These images were found in a scrapbook of engravings, with a note saying they “apparently belonged to Mrs. J.V. Stromeyer, 164 E. 94th St. N.Y. … probably put to-gether in the 1870’s.” The album was given to the library by Mrs. John N. Reynolds in 1943.