Part I of this article, on the historiography of South Carolina Reconstruction, explains the difficulty scholars have had in uncovering the documentary history of Reconstruction, and outlines the development of historical interpretations of Reconstruction from the Nineteenth century Redeemer-era accounts to the revisionists of the 1970's. Part II provides brief biographies of both Justice Wright and William James Whipper. Parts III and IV track the different approaches of Whipper and Wright on two vital issues of their day: (1) whether to repudiate all private debts relating to slavery; and (2) how to construct a homestead law to protect cash-poor landowners. Finally, the article concludes that if Wright had taken Whipper's more aggressive tact in his judicial opinions and political activity, the story of South Carolina Reconstruction might have evolved differently. African Americans might have retained some of their political voice as memories of Reconstruction faded into the past.
Caleb A. Jaffe,
Obligations Impaired: Justice Jonathan Jasper Wright and the Failure of Reconstruction in South Carolina,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol8/iss2/4