This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Civil Wars and Civil Beings: Violence, Religion, Race, Politics, Education, Culture, and Agrarianism in Perry County, Alabama, 1860-1875




English, Bertis

Type of Degree





The years 1860 to 1875 were of immense importance to Alabama history. Following a controversial secession debate, its residents faced a life-changing war. In the aftermath of war, Alabamians wrestled with the changes that accompanied the Union victory. Like the rest of the South, cultural, economic, educational, ethnic, racial, and religious issues beset Alabama during Reconstruction and the early Redemption years. Wartime and immediate post-wartime changes were difficult for most of the state’s citizens, but the Postbellum period was particularly challenging for black Alabamians, especially those who lived in the racially divided and often violent Black Belt. But one of the region’s localities was different. In Perry County, black agency, or self-help, thrived on the heels of the Civil War. Interestingly, a principal factor to black Perry Countians’ self-help was the tremendous antebellum concentration of white educational and religious institutions in the county seat, Marion, a phenomenon that softened local whites and became a model for black liberation and biracial cooperation. In a region where political- and race-based violence was widespread between 1860 and 1875, hostility was noticeably slighter in Perry. Consequently, it became one of the most progressive counties in Alabama during the Civil War, Reconstruction, and early Redemption periods.