In this outstanding cultural biography, the author of the New York Times bestseller A Slave in the White House chronicles a critical yet overlooked chapter in American history: the inspiring rise and calculated fall of the black elite, from Emancipation through Reconstruction to the Jim Crow Era--embodied in the experiences of an influential figure of the time, academic, entrepreneur, and political activist and black history pioneer Daniel Murray. In the wake of the Civil War, Daniel Murray, born free and educated in Baltimore, was in the vanguard of Washington, D.C.'s black upper class. Appointed Assistant Librarian at the Library of Congress--at a time when government appointments were the most prestigious positions available for blacks--Murray became wealthy through his business as a construction contractor and married a college-educated socialite. The Murrays' social circles included some of the first African-American U.S. Senators and Congressmen, and their children went to the best colleges--Harvard and Cornell.