DeLarge, Robert Carlos
- Timothy P. McCarthy
DeLarge, Robert Carlos (15 March 1842–14 February 1874), politician, was born in Aiken, South Carolina. His father was a free black tailor, and his mother was a cloak maker of Haitian descent; their names are unknown. Though several records claim that DeLarge was born into slavery, it is more likely that his parents were free blacks who owned slaves. This peculiar and paradoxical designation surely inspired the dual sensibilities that later characterized his political and social life as both an advocate for universal black enfranchisement and a member of South Carolina’s propertied, often exclusionist, mulatto elite. Fortunate to receive the benefits of the prewar education available to free black children, DeLarge attended primary school in North Carolina and Wood High School in Charleston. For a short time he was employed as a tailor and farmer, and some sources indicate that he was also a part-time barber. During the Civil War, he amassed some money as an employee of the Confederate navy, a curious affiliation in light of his Republican activities during Reconstruction. He later donated most of his Civil War earnings to the state Republican party. By the time he became active in Reconstruction politics, DeLarge was a citizen of considerable standing in Charleston, as indicated both by his net worth of $6,650 in the 1870 census and his membership in the Brown Fellowship Society, a fraternal and charitable association founded in 1870 that admitted only mulattoes....