In the Exhibit | F.A. Clinton
Walk through our Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers exhibit and one of the first pieces often noticed is the desk of Frederick Albert Clinton. F.A. Clinton appears in the black and white photo behind the desk as a no-nonsense, proud man. His story reveals why.
Born a slave in Lancaster, S.C., Clinton would go on to serve as a senator in the South Carolina legislature from 1868 to 1876. As with many newly-elected, recently freed black government officials, Clinton was in the mix of upheaval, resentment and turmoil. Part of only 26 percent of blacks elected into office, during his terms he witnessed the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the Red Shirts,who threatened the lives of Blacks in the South.
Elections during these times were often met with violence and intimidation. Yet while he could serve, Clinton was influential in bringing public schools to South Carolina. As a member of the once liberal Republican Party of the time, he was also one of several officials who drafted the 1868 South Carolina state Constitution.
As “Black Codes,”--laws and rules that restricted African American rights--were began passed throughout the state, Clinton’s service was an example of the contributions blacks were able to make when given access to full citizenship rights. This fall, we’ll share the story of one of his contemporaries, Robert Smalls, in an exhibit here at the Museum.
In his later years, Clinton became a farmer, owning 1500 acres of land. He also was an organizer and trustee of Mt. Carmel AME Zion Church.
Next time you are at the Museum, snap a picture with F.A Clinton and use the hashtag #CometoUnderstand.