Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Shively

Second Advisor

Dr. Nicole Myers Turner

Third Advisor

Dr. John M. Coski


In Virginia following the Civil War, white and black people formed complex and shifting alliances based on their own self-interests that cut across the lines of established political parties. In this turbulent atmosphere, William Mahone forged a new biracial political coalition called the Readjuster Party in order to transform Virginia’s economy so that it would be competitive in the years to come. Chapter One argues that Mahone’s experience as a soldier and railroad man gave him the political clout needed to enter politics and an industrial vision for Virginia’s future that was markedly different from many of his contemporaries. Chapter Two argues that William Mahone’s leadership of the Readjuster Party, and its advocacy of universal male suffrage and economic reform, created a new political center in Virginia and demonstrates that the actions of both white and black people cannot be viewed as a monolith in the postwar era. Chapter Three demonstrates how William Mahone’s political career was excluded from white Virginians’ narrative of Reconstruction following his death because it provided a historical example of African American suffrage and an attempt to establish fair elections that clashed with Virginia’s established white supremacist social order.


© Heath Anderson

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission