Black Labor in Richmond, 1865-1890

Author: Peter J. Rachleff
Black workers and the struggle for labor rights after the Civil War
Paper – $24
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1989
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About the Book

Post-Civil War Richmond built its advanced economic development on industries that ranged from tobacco to iron. Newly freed Black workers relocated to the city to take advantage of its healthy job market and growing economy. Peter J. Rachleff looks at the work and social milieus of Black workers against the backdrop of the class and racial tensions that simmered in the city. Rachleff examines how a working class formed out of a complex fusion of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, occupation, trade unionism, and activism. In addition, he goes beyond Black labor concerns to shed light on Richmond as a site of social change and the family connections, institutions, and popular politics woven into the lives of the city and its people.

About the Author

Peter J. Rachleff is a professor of history at Macalester College. His books include Hard-Pressed in the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future of the Labor Movement.


"The best study yet written about the ex-slave as urban wage-earner. It is essential reading for students of Afro-American and working-class history."--Herbert Gutman

"This book shows that Black and white workers could act together and that a working-class reform movement, at least in one southern city, could challenge the existing status quo. Rachleff presents an interesting story of social, economic, and political intrigue in a post-Civil War urban environment where class was pitted against class and race against race."--C. K.McFarland, Journal of Southern History