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A Refugee from His RaceAlbion W. Tourgée and His Fight against White Supremacy$
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Carolyn L. Karcher

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627953

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627953.001.0001

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Passing for Black in Pactolus Prime

Passing for Black in Pactolus Prime

(p.54) Chapter Two Passing for Black in Pactolus Prime
A Refugee from His Race

Carolyn L. Karcher

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 2 focuses on Tourgée’s 1890 novel Pactolus Prime, in which he blasted white racism and white Christianity through the mouth of his title character, an African American bootblack who has earlier passed for white. By analyzing the reception of the novel by white Southerners, white Northerners, and African Americans, the chapter also illustrates the dialogue about the race question that Tourgée provoked. White Southerners accused Tourgée of fomenting hatred, as did Joel Chandler Harris, who branded him a “refugee from his race.” White Northerners generally praised the novel but complained that Tourgée offered no solution to the racism he excoriated. African Americans hailed Tourgée for eloquently expressing their own sentiments, as did Anna Julia Cooper, but some, including Charles W. Chesnutt, objected to the novel’s seeming endorsement of racial passing and to its pessimistic denouement.

Keywords:   Pactolus Prime, Racial passing, Racism, White Christianity, White Southern reception, Joel Chandler Harris, White Northern reception, African American reception, Anna Julia Cooper, Charles W. Chesnutt

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