GLC Book Talk: Neil Kinghan, “A Brief Moment in the Sun: Francis Cardozo and Reconstruction in South Carolina”
In-person and zoom
Introductions: David W. Blight (Director, Gilder Lehrman Center and Sterling Professor of History, Yale University)
· Glenda Gilmore (Peter V & C Vann Woodward Professor Emeritus of History, Yale University)
· Crystal Feimster (Associate Professor in the Departments of African American Studies and History and the Programs of American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University)
In conversation with:
· Neil Kinghan (PhD in history, University College London. Former director general for local and regional government in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of England and a former director general of the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission)
Dr. Neil Kinghan’s A Brief Moment in the Sun: Francis Cardozo and Reconstruction in South Carolina is a political biography of Francis Lewis Cardozo. Cardozo was the first African American to win election to state office in the United States, serving as Secretary of State and as State Treasurer in South Carolina between 1868 and 1877. He was the most influential African American to hold office in the South between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement one hundred years later. A famously honest office-holder in the Republican government of Reconstruction, he was falsely convicted and imprisoned by the Democrats returning to power in 1877. For the last twenty-five years of his life, Cardozo lived in Washington DC, building up and running the M Street high school for African Americans in the city.
The book traces Cardozo’s antebellum childhood in Charleston’s black community, his education in Scotland and London, and his first job as a minister in New Haven, Connecticut. Deeply researched, the book brings together records of Cardozo’s father’s Jewish family, of antebellum black life, of university life in Britain in the 1860s, the archives of the American Missionary Association and of state government in South Carolina, and his own papers together with the commentary provided by contemporary newspapers in South Carolina and Washington DC.
A Brief Moment in the Sun restores Cardozo to his rightful place as a central figure in the history of Reconstruction and its aftermaths. Through the life story of this honorable American political leader, Kinghan powerfully challenges the legend of Reconstruction as a tragic failure.