Horace S. Fulkerson was born in 1818 in Kentucky and moved to Rodney, Mississippi, in 1836. He became deputy US marshal in Port Gibson in 1840 and in 1845 married Charlotte McBride, with whom he went on to have five children. In the 1850s he worked in New Orleans as an agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad. When the Civil War broke out, Fulkerson traveled to Europe as a Confederate agent, buying war materials. He then worked with the Confederate Cotton Bureau and proposed a plan to build Confederate gunboats in Texas.
After the Civil War, he moved to Vicksburg and became a merchant. In 1885 he founded the Vicksburg Sun, serving as the paper’s manager and editor. The first three issues featured Fulkerson’s reminiscences, which he then published as A Civilian’s Recollections of the War. Fulkerson also published a memoir, Random Recollections of Early Days in Mississippi (1885), that contained anecdotes about frontier life, with considerable details about fighting, dueling, steamboat races, land speculation and other forms of gambling, and yellow fever epidemics. Two years later, he published The Negro; as He Was; as He Is; as He Will Be, which he dedicated to “The Old South” “Out of an Affection respectful and a just remembrance of her.” The volume discussed the supposed retrogression of African Americans into criminality after emancipation. According to Fulkerson, African life was uncivilized, and the racial characteristics of Africans were “as immutable as any of the laws of nature.” Through slavery, Africans could be civilized, taught work habits, and converted to Christianity, but emancipation and especially gaining the right to vote were tragic mistakes, leading to unrealizable expectations and inevitable conflict. Fulkerson concluded that physical separation was the only solution to southern race relations and urged the US government to take the money being spent on African American education and instead use it to “give [the African] a country all to himself,” perhaps in the Caribbean or Central America.
- Stephen Cresswell, Rednecks, Redeemers, and Race: Mississippi after Reconstruction, 1877–1917 (2006)
- Percy L. Rainwater, Mississippi Valley Historical Review (1937)