The Winter 2017 issue of the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society is now available on Project MUSE, https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/35485.
VOL. 115, NO. 1 | WINTER 2017
“They Met Force with Force”: African American Protests and Social Status in Louisville’s 1877 Strike
By Shannon M. Smith
Shannon Smith examines the 1877 general strike in Louisville, a part of the larger Great Railroad Strike, the first nationwide industrial strike in U.S. history. Unlike in other cities affected by the railroad strike, strike leaders in Louisville were African American laborers working on the city’s sewer system. Louisville’s political and business leaders claimed that the city had a model economic and racial order—that it was a city with a northern work ethic but the supposedly smooth labor relations of the South. The July 1877 strike, of course, debunked the myth that black workers in Louisville were happy with their low wages and poor working conditions. Smith argues that the inability of white and African American laborers to share labor concerns and work in concert ultimately limited the success of the strike. In fact, many white laborers joined the city’s militia, led by ex-Confederates, to suppress the strikers. Although black workers had demonstrated that they had a right to protest in the public sphere, ultimately the strike failed because white workers chose race over class when they sided with white elites rather than black workers.
“Young and Littlefield’s Folly”: Fundraising, Confederate Memorialization, and the Construction of the Jefferson Davis Monument in Fairview, Kentucky, 1907–1924
By Joy M. Giguere
Joy Giguere details the fundraising efforts of the Jefferson Davis Monument Association, which was created in 1907 to purchase and preserve the Davis family homestead in Fairview, Kentucky. The association, especially under the leadership of Louisvillian Bennett H. Young, also wanted to build a grand monument at the former Confederate president’s birth site—a 351-foot obelisk, which was ultimately completed in 1924. However, the Davis Monument was an expensive, long-term project that was only completed with the help of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and without much support from the local communities in and around Fairview. Although the completion of such a grand monument seemed to imply that early-twentieth-century Kentuckians were eager to memorialize Davis and the Confederacy, Giguere argues that the fundraising struggles of the association point toward a different interpretation; although Kentucky had “turned” Confederate after the war ended, by the early twentieth century, few Kentuckians showed much interest in this monument to their native son. Rather than focusing only on the intended meaning of completed monuments, Giguere argues that historians of Civil War memory should also examine the fundraising and construction of monuments in order to better understand their larger social context.
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