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Murder in the State Capitol: The Biography of Lt. Col. Robert Augustus Alston (1832-1879)

By author: Pamela Chase Hain
Product Code: H865
ISBN: 9780881464306
Product Format: Hardback
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Availability: In stock
Price: $35.00

Follow the transformation of Robert Augustus Alston from a nineteenth-century slave owner and white supremacist to crusader for reform in the treatment of mostly black convicts in post-war Georgia. In his own words, Alston went to war to defend his ownership of slaves. During the Civil War, Alston served under General John Hunt Morgan initially as his adjutant and later in command of a brigade. In 1864, his strong sense of honor caused him to become disillusioned by the robberies and depredations of Morgan’s troops and he reported Morgan to authorities for not investigating them. Following the Civil War, Alston became a cotton farmer using freedmen, practiced law, sold insurance, and then became an editor and owner of the Atlanta Herald. He was responsible for bringing the later famous journalist Henry Grady to the newspaper. Alston was also very active in politics and the efforts to bring the Democrats back to power. In 1878 as a state representative from DeKalb County, he became chairman of the penitentiary committee. Reporting on the deplorable conditions in the convict camps that were leased by private companies Alston thus became the first man in Georgia to expose the enormities of the convict lease system. The owners included the most powerful men in the State—former governor Joseph Brown, the acting governor Alfred Colquitt, and senator and later governor John Gordon. As a result of his exposé, Alston’s life was threatened. Intrigue, bribery, and murder silenced Alston just as he was poised to become one of Georgia’s most influential leaders. While his efforts did not result in abolishing the system immediately, he is credited with beginning its eventual demise.
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