James C. Clark


John Wallace, who rose from slavery to become a leading black politician in Florida during Reconstruction, has been nearly forgotten, while other black leaders have received overdue recognition for their accomplishments. Unlike those who are remembered for advancing the cause of blacks, Wallace left behind a different legacy— a book that was critical of his fellow blacks and Radical Republicans, and frequently complimentary of white conservation Democrats. The book, Carpetbag Rule in Florida: The Inside Workings of Civil Government in Florida After the Close of the Civil War, published in Jacksonville in 1888, became a major source for a generation of historians who were critical of Reconstruction and who quoted Wallace liberally without examining his motivation or background. A century after the appearance of the book, it remains unclear whether Wallace was the true author of the work that influenced the writing of Reconstruction history or whether someone else was responsible.