Bittersweet legacy: the Black and white ''better classes'' by Janette Thomas Greenwood

By Janette Thomas Greenwood

Bittersweet Legacy is the dramatic tale of the connection among generations of black and white southerners in Charlotte, North Carolina, from 1850 to 1910. Janette Greenwood describes the interactions among black and white enterprise people--the 'better classes,' as they known as themselves. Her publication paints an incredibly complicated portrait of race and sophistication family members within the New South and demonstrates the effect of non-public relationships, generational shifts, and the interaction of neighborhood, country, and nationwide occasions in shaping the responses of black and white southerners to one another and the realm round them.Greenwood argues that strategies of race and sophistication replaced considerably within the overdue 19th century. Documenting the increase of interracial social reform pursuits within the Eighteen Eighties, she means that the 'better periods' in short created another imaginative and prescient of race relatives. The disintegration of the alliance because of New South politics and a generational shift in management left a bittersweet legacy for Charlotte that will weigh seriously on its voters good into the 20 th century.

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Extra resources for Bittersweet legacy: the Black and white ''better classes'' in Charlotte, 1850-1910

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I am especially indebted to Rosa Smith, the daughter of W. C. Smith, a central character in this story. She generously shared her copies of the Charlotte Messenger with me, and without her help this book could never have been written. Jack Claiborne also proved to be an invaluable source of information, and I appreciated discussing ideas with him as this project unfolded. A number of people at the University of Virginia critiqued this book in its dissertation form. My adviser, Edward L. Ayers, shepherded this study from its inception as a seminar paper through the dissertation phase and finally to its becoming a manuscript and patiently critiqued numerous revisions.

Several gold mines were established in and near Charlotte, and the village attracted fortune seekers from both the North and abroad in what was at that time the United States' most significant gold strike. Mecklenburg's population jumped by nearly 4,000 people between 1820 and 1830, the largest ten-year increase it had ever experienced. The trifling crossroads village took on the trappings of town life as Charlotte got its first newspaper, the Catawba Journal, in 1824 and two banks opened in the 1830s.

40 Many of the town's leading merchants and professionals owned slaves, apparently having purchased them as both an investment and a symbol of status in the decade before the Civil War. Some of these slaves may have worked on farms owned by their masters in the country, while many others were "hired out" as house servants or laborers. In addition, some town slaves probably worked in their masters' manufacturing enterprises. John Wilkes, proprietor of the Mecklenburg Iron Works, had ten slaves, and lawyer and railroad promoter William Johnston, who also owned a sawmill, had eleven.

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