Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Harold D. Mixon


This study examined the racial rhetoric of Wade Hampton with particular attention to claims that he was a moderate and sought to solve the racial problems of the period through rhetorical means. The study investigated: (1) the extent to which his speeches addressed the racial issue, (2) the consistency of his position, and (3) the nature and appropriateness of his appeals. State newspapers were examined to locate his speeches, which were categorized by period and subject. Examination of the data revealed four specific racial exigencies to which Hampton responded: (1) the loss of black labor (1865-66), (2) black suffrage (1867-68), (3) black political domination (1876), and (4) proscription of black political participation (1877-78). His gubernatorial campaign of 1876 and representative responses to each exigence were critiqued using the methodology of the rhetorical situation. The speeches were analyzed in terms of exigence, audience, constraints, and appropriateness. The following conclusions were drawn: (1) over ninety percent of Hampton's reported speeches 1865-1878 addressed the racial exigence. (2) His speeches were remarkably consistent with one another and with his private correspondence. (3) Hampton envisioned a white controlled society with blacks performing most of the labor while enjoying legal equality, educational opportunity, and possibilities for political office. To achieve that end he asked whites to recognize the new political realities, treat the blacks with kindness and fairness, and grant them legal and political rights and privileges. To the blacks, he appealed to their sense of identification as southern men and contended that economically they were inextricably linked to the fate of the native whites. To audiences black and white his ethos was his most dominant appeal. Throughout the period he sought rhetorical rather than violent means for modifying the exigencies. His speeches reveal an approach to the racial issue that was pragmatic and modern.