SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- Charles Postel looks at some of the same themes through a 19th century lens in Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866 – 1896. Though the San Francisco State University History professor focuses on three distinct organizations, his book offers an expansive portrait of the post-Civil War U.S.
Members of the farmers’ Grange, the Knights of Labor and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union banded together to win rights and respect for their members. Some of their achievements were deeply laudable. The WCTU, devoted to outlawing alcohol and securing women’s suffrage, broadened its focus, opening kindergartens in 1890s San Francisco and Oakland.
Each group sought to strengthen its voice by uniting subgroups from disparate regions of the U.S. Unfortunately, Postel notes, this “vision of sectional reconciliation … left little room for the equal rights claims of the southerners who happened to be black.”