Labor History Seminar: Stephen Kantrowitz, University of Wisconsin

Labor History Seminar
Friday, October 15, 2010

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

“Boston’s ‘Black Abolitionists’ and the Radical Reconstruction of the Deep North”
Stephen Kantrowitz, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Between the 1850s and 1870s, a political alliance between black activists and white antislavery politicians flourished in the political microclimate of Boston’s Beacon Hill. Black residents gained long-sought political victories, patronage positions, and eventually steady employment; white Republican industrialists could count on a small but reliable voting bloc, as well as comparatively cheap labor that also suited their ideological purposes. This unequal alliance found its limits during the early 1870s, as white party leaders responded to black activists’ support for radical candidates by adopting the Democratic position that black voters were essentially a purchasable mob.

Commentators: Thomas Holt, University of Chicago and Kate Masur, Northwestern University