A Short History of Reconstruction, Updated Edition

A Short History of Reconstruction, Updated Edition

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0062370863

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From the “preeminent historian of Reconstruction” (New York Times Book Review), a newly updated abridged edition of the prize-winning classic work on the post-Civil War period which shaped modern America.

In this updated edition of the abridged Reconstruction, Eric Foner redefines how the post-Civil War period was viewed.

Reconstruction chronicles the way in which Americans—black and white—responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. It addresses the quest of emancipated slaves’ searching for economic autonomy and equal citizenship, and describes the remodeling of Southern society; the evolution of racial attitudes and patterns of race relations; and the emergence of a national state possessing vastly expanded authority and one committed, for a time, to the principle of equal rights for all Americans.

This “masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history” (New Republic) remains the standard work on the wrenching post-Civil War period—an era whose legacy still reverberates in the United States today.
















prosperity to result to the state by a change of the system of labor. Early in 1865, the antislavery party moved to solidify its position by disenfranchising all who had served in the Southern armies or given even verbal support to the Confederacy. No thought was given to expanding the Unionist base by allowing the black fifth of Maryland’s population to vote. Unlike the border states, the Confederate Upper South, especially Tennessee, experienced wartime Reconstruction under direct

Vicksburg in July 1863, the army extended the Bankslabor system to the entire Mississippi Valley. Despite local variations in policy, most army officials assumed that the emancipated slaves should remain as plantation laborers. Only occasionally did glimmerings of an alternative point of view appear. The largest laboratory of black economic independence was Davis Bend, Mississippi, which contained the huge plantations of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Iiis brother Joseph. Before the

governments that attracted broad Southern support. To the Radicals, Reconstruction implied a far-reaching transformation in Southern society; as a result, they wished to delay the process until after the war and to limit participation to a smaller number of “iron-clad loyalists.” Wade-Davis limited suffrage to loyal whites. Many Radicals, however, were already convinced that black suffrage must come. In many states, George S. Boutwell insisted, the freedmen “are almost the only people who are

owned a slave or two, and even in the mountains slavery was “firmly entrenched” among a small but influential local elite: the few large-scale farmers, professional men, merchants, and small-town entrepreneurs. Outside the plantation belt, however, the majority of yeomen had little economic stake in the institution. Yet slavery affected society everywhere in the South, and even mountaineers shared many attitudes with the planters, beginning with a commitment to white supremacy. So long as slavery

be trodden under foot to protect niggers.’ “ Nordhoff had once admired the President; now he judged him a “pig-headed man” governed by one idea: “bitter opposition to universal suffrage.” Gone was the vision of a reconstructed South controlled by loyal yeomen. “The old Southern leaders …,” declared the man who had once railed against the Slave Power, “must rule the South. “ When the Reconstruction bill reached his desk on March 2, Johnson returned it with a veto, which Congress promptly overrode.

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