The main argument in Fitzgerald’s article is concerned with the intersection of the factional conflict and black social aspirations during the Southern Reconstruction (474). The author notes that due to the divisions among white Republican leaders, African Americans received more power in the southern party. Particularly, there was a conflict between two “carpetbag senators,” Willard Warner and George E. Spencer, which offered patronage and political possibilities for the African American leadership (Fitzgerald 474).
Senator Warner competed for white votes with his “scalawag-dominated bloc” whereas Senator Spencer concentrated on expressing “black political aspirations” (Fitzgerald 474). However, along with political opportunities created by such a state of affairs, social divisions within the community were brought to light.
The author uses a variety of details to support his argument. First of all, he gives an account of the nature of the two senators’ dispute. Fitzgerald remarks that while having the ideological character, the rivalry between Warner and Spencer was a personal dispute (475).
Further, the author goes on to explain the details of the electoral process and the role each party had in it (476). Then, Fitzgerald explains the importance of the collector of the port in Mobile and the effect of that person on the factional struggle (477). Particular attention is paid to the position of Creoles during the management of Miller, the newly appointed collector (Fitzgerald 477). Later, the author gives an account of the changes that occurred when Miller was removed from the position and was replaced by Warner (Fitzgerald 481-484).
Another informative set of details is employed by the scholar when describing the 1872 campaign (Fitzgerald 490-491). The author explains the development of the campaign and notes that Mobile “remained the center of controversy” for a long time (Fitzgerald 491). Overall, the article is filled with details of the political system and its actors from 1868-1880. The author offers a thorough analysis of various aspects affecting the political life of the people at that time.
Fitzgerald’s research is based on a variety of sources, which makes the article highly reliable and informative. The author makes references to a variety of books, journal articles, newspaper articles, personal communication, Senate reports, and financial statements. Among the major journals and papers used by Fitzgerald, there are New York Times, Alabama State Journal, Civil War History, Mobile Daily Register, New York Tribune, and Mobile Herald.
Probably the largest part of the sources is composed of letters between political and state actors. Out of all the articles and book chapters used, the author emphasizes the value of Powell’s work (315-347). In particular, Fitzgerald uses Powell’s opinion about the Republicans being “inordinately addicted to factional quarrels” as the introduction to his article (474). The variety and historic value of the sources used by Fitzgerald allow concluding that the article is based on solid research and backed up with relevant data.
There seem to be no unanswered questions in Fitzgerald’s work. The scholar gives a detailed account of the events associated with the main argument, provides a thorough analysis of various processes, and offers the description of the main actors participating in these processes. Thus, it is possible to conclude that Fitzgerald achieved his objective quite well. Probably dividing the paper into several parts with headings would have made it easier to comprehend. However, the source is overall very informative and provides valuable opinions on some of the most significant events in the country’s history.
Fitzgerald, Michael W. “Republican Factionalism and Black Empowerment: The Spencer-Warner Controversy and Alabama Reconstruction, 1868-1880.” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 64, no. 3, 1998, pp. 473-494.
Powell, Lawrence N. “The Politics of Livelihood: Carpetbaggers in the Deep South.” Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward, edited by Comer Vann Woodward et al., Oxford University Press, 1982, pp. 315-347.