After serving in the Civil War as a Confederate officer and then achieving business success in the North, Colonel Henry French returns to his hometown of Clarendon, North Carolina, and dreams of building a better future. In his absence, Clarendon has endured as a deeply prejudiced place—still permeated by systems of racist oppression even after the Civil War—but Henry believes he has what it takes to make a difference. He seeks out new opportunities for the oppressed and eagerly pursues his progressive agenda, but the harder he pushes for change, the harder the town pushes back—with ultimately tragic results.
Written from the viewpoint of a white protagonist—a unique perspective at the time for an African American writer—Charles W. Chesnutt’s unflinching novel identified structural problems in our politics that are still being addressed today. The Colonel’s Dream deserves rediscovery as a far-seeing and scathing indictment of race and caste in America.
Revised edition: Previously published as The Colonel's Dream, this edition of The Colonel's Dream (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.