Prince Rivers

Prince Rivers (1822-1887)

Prince Rivers (1822-1887)

The story of Prince Rivers embodies many of the insights which Eric Foner tries to convey in the opening chapters of his book, A Short History of Reconstruction (2015 ed.).  Rivers was a “contraband,” a wartime runaway slave, who fled behind Union lines along the South Carolina coast in 1862.  He joined the Union army, serving in one of the first all-black regiments, and became something of a wartime celebrity.  Later, during post-war Reconstruction, he became a political figure in South Carolina.  The sad ending to his career, however, suggests how, as Foner put it, Reconstruction truly became, “America’s Unfinished Revolution.”  You can read about Rivers in the following two posts at the Emancipation Digital Classroom.  Try to use his story to punctuate Foner’s analysis about “Wartime Reconstruction” and the various “Rehearsals for Reconstruction.”


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