In the early years of Reconstruction, a number of black citizens, white Radical Republicans, and several novelists called for reparations for the formerly enslaved. Chapter 4 focuses especially on Lydia Maria Child’s A Romance of the Republic (1867) within the context of post–Civil War calls for reparations. The chapter argues that Child strategically revises the antebellum era’s discourse of families and interracial intimacy, so that Romance represents a major effort to present alternative routes, justifications, and strategies for, and the potential results of, economic redistribution from whites to blacks. Melodramatic fiction, with its long history in the slavery context of exploring the relationship between what legal scholar Adrienne Davis terms the “legal” and the “sexual” families, provided Child, in the postwar context, with a vocabulary for reimagining interracial sexuality and individuals’ access to family money.
Keywords: Lydia Maria Child; Caroline Lee Hentz; slavery; reparations; reconstruction; melodrama; sentimentalism; Forty Acres and a Mule
Chapter. 14118 words.
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