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The Colonel's Dream
by Charles Waddell Chesnutt
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Around the turn of the twentieth century and after having achieved financial success in New York, Colonel French returns to his hometown of Clarendon, NC, determined to use his great wealth to bring about racial harmony through economic prosperity, in a south still reeling from the social upheaval of the Civil War. He devises schemes to bring jobs to all members of the community - without regard to 'race' - but underestimates the power of deep-seated racism to undermine his efforts. He fails horribly and loses his most cherished loved ones in the process, perhaps because he himself could not fully dispel his own Southern values.
But did not choose the design; let us be thankful for that. It might have been like his father's. Bill Fetters rich and great, he mused, "who would have dreamed it? I kicked him once, all the way down Main Street from the schoolhouse to the bank--and dodged his angry mother for a whole month afterward!"
About the Author
About the Author
CHARLES WADDELL CHESNUTT (1858-1932) was the first African American writer to be given serious attention by the mainstream American literary establishment. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but at eight moved with his family to their ancestral home in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There he carefully laid out a plan to achieve the American Dream of material success by writing for the "high, holy purpose" of liberating this country from its sin of slavery. He began as a short story writer and published two volumes of short stories, The Conjure Woman (1899) and The Wife of his Youth (1899), as well as many other stories that have been only recently collected. He published three novels during his lifetime - The House Behind the Cedars (1900), The Marrow of Tradition (1901), and The Colonel's Dream (1905). Chesnutt was also a lawyer and court stenographer. Though light-skinned enough to pass for white, Chesnutt was reared in an African-American culture about which he often showed ambivalence, but which he could never entirely reject.
About the Editor
SALLYANN H FERGUSON is an associate professor of American and African American literature at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who has published numerous articles in journals such as American Literature, Black American Literature Forum, Southern Literary Journal and the Langston Hughes Review. Her most recent book is Charles W Chesnutt: Selected Writings.
Professor Ferguson is also a past president of The Society For The Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of The United States (MELUS).
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