Wade Hampton

[In general, I eschew the inclusion of biographies like the one below for a variety of reasons, but primarily because of Mark’s Text Terminal’s commitment to raising underrepresented and unheard voices–and white supremacists, especially as of this writing, are neither underrepresented or unheard in American society. I post this because I lived for nine years in a coop apartment building in the North Bronx named for Wade Hampton–i.e. the Wade Hampton Apartments. The building went up in 1930, and I think its safe to assume that the choice of place name for this apartment house stemmed from its owners’ desire to signal unequivocally to American citizens of African descent that they were unwelcome there. At the time the building opened for tenancy, the Great Migration from the South (and for more on that, I cannot extol highly enough Isabel Wilkerson’s magisterial history of the period The Warmth of Other Suns) was gathering steam, provoking a housing crisis in the cities, including New York, to which Black people migrated to escape the racist exploitation and brutality of the Jim Crow South–something Wade Hampton himself (and the developers of Wade Hampton apartments, arguably) undeniably worked to perpetuate. My one regret about all of this is that I didn’t insist, while serving on the coop board, that the name of the corporation and the real property it fronted change to something less odious. If anyone from Wade Hampton happens to see this post, consider a change, won’t you please?]

“Wade Hampton: (1818-1902) U.S. military leader. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, he managed his family’s plantations and served in the state legislature (1852-61). In the Civil War he organized and led ‘Hampton’s Legion‘ of South Carolina troops, fighting at Bull Run and Gettysburg and serving as second in command under J.E.B. Stuart. After Stuart died, he was promoted to major general and led the cavalry (1864). After the war he sought reconciliation but opposed the policies of Reconstruction, and as governor of South Carolina (1876-79) he led the fight to restore white supremacy. He served in the U.S. Senate 1879-91.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

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