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Entrepreneur for Equality
by Russell Duncan
Hardcover, 278 pages, 6-1/2" x 9-1/4"
From the dustjacket flaps:
Russell Duncan follows Bullock's life from his abolitionist upbringing in Albion, New York, to his move to Augusta, Georgia, on the eve of the Civil War and his subsequent role in the Southern war effort. Elected governor of Georgia in 1868, Bullock was ousted by Democratic opponents before the end of his term. Duncan chronicles Bullock's trial on charges of corruption and malfeasance, his full acquittal, and his subsequent ventures in railroading, banking, manufacturing, textiles, and insurance. In one of many demonstrations of Bullock's business prowess and personal complexity, Duncan shows how he was able to serve two terms as president of Atlanta's chamber of commerce even as he publicly rebuked New South sovereign Henry Grady for racism.
The core of the book is a reevaluation of Bullock's personal character, gubernatorial administration, and business affairs. Offering new explanations of the most controversial points in Bullock's career, Duncan examines his Radical Republican views on racial and economic opportunity, his attempts to stimulate Georgia's devastated economy by expanding its rail system, and his many clashes with militant Democratic party reactionaries. At heart, says Duncan, Bullock was a consummate businessman. If, as governor, he formed unseemly alliances and overstepped his powers, there is much to show that personal gain was not a compelling motive. Further, Bullock's early views on racism - on its utter impracticality - stemmed from his unwavering belief in entrepreneurship and free labor. If his advocacy of racial equality - which paralleled the "separate but equal" stance of his friend Booker T. Washington - had pragmatic underpinnings, Duncan argues, it did acquire a strong moral components. Bullock genuinely sought to extend justice, opportunity, and prosperity to black citizens. He consistently upheld their rights at great personal risk and continually badgered an unresponsive Republican regime in Washington, D.C., to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments.
Without minimizing the greed and malevolence that pervaded Georgia in Bullock's time, Duncan, to a great degree, exculpates the man himself. Bringing us much closer to Bullock as he was known by New South proponents, Duncan shows him to be an honest broker for change in a time when the rhetoric of the Lost Cause placed a higher emphasis on social order.
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