Journal of American Studies

Research Article

A High and Honorable Calling: Black Lawyers in South Carolina, 1868–1915

J. R. Oldfielda1

a1 J. R. Oldfield is Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Southampton, Southampton S09 5NH, England.

In recent years historians have begun to show considerable interest in the legal history of the South. But while much of this interest has touched on Southern lawyers and notions of professionalization, scant attention has been paid to the scores of black lawyers who were admitted to the bar in the post-Civil War period. Who were these men? Where did they acquire their legal training and at what cost? What sort of practices did they run? How successful were they? What follows is an attempt to answer some of these questions, taking as a case study the state of South Carolina, cradle of secession, and, by any measure, one of the most conservative (and recalcitrant) Southern states during the Reconstruction and Redemption periods.