The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era

The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era

by Douglas R. Egerton


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By 1870, just five years after Confederate surrender and thirteen years after the Dred Scott decision ruled blacks ineligible for citizenship, Congressional action had ended slavery and given the vote to black men. That same year, Hiram Revels and Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African-American U.S. senator and congressman respectively. In South Carolina, only twenty years after the death of arch-secessionist John C. Calhoun, a black man, Jasper J. Wright, took a seat on the state's Supreme Court. Not even the most optimistic abolitionists had thought such milestones would occur in their lifetimes. The brief years of Reconstruction marked the United States' most progressive moment prior to the civil rights movement.

Previous histories of Reconstruction have focused on Washington politics. But in this sweeping, prodigiously researched narrative, Douglas Egerton brings a much bigger, even more dramatic story into view, exploring state and local politics and tracing the struggles of some fifteen hundred African-American officeholders, in both the North and South, who fought entrenched white resistance. Tragically, their movement was met by ruthless violence—not just riotous mobs, but also targeted assassination. With stark evidence, Egerton shows that Reconstruction, often cast as a "failure" or a doomed experiment, was rolled back by murderous force. The Wars of Reconstruction is a major and provocative contribution to American history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608195664
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 01/21/2014
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 327,060
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Douglas R. Egerton is a professor of history at LeMoyne College. He is the author of six books, including Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War, He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey, Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802, and Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America. He lives near Syracuse, New York.

Table of Contents

Prologue Robert Vesey's Charleston 1

Chapter 1 "An Eagle on His Button": Black Men Fight for the Union 22

Chapter 2 "To Forget and Forgive Old Scores": War's End, Activism's Beginning 57

Chapter 3 "All De Land Belongs to De Yankees Now": The Freedmen's Bureau 93

Chapter 4 "The Lord Has Sent Us Books and Teachers": Missionaries and Community Formation 134

Chapter 5 "We Will Remember Our Friends, and Will Not Forget Our Enemies": Black Codes and Black Conventions 168

Chapter 6 "Andrew Johnson Is But One Man": The Progressive Alliance Coalesces 211

Chapter 7 "We Knows That Much Better Than You Do": Voting Rights and Political Service 245

Chapter 8 "An Absolute Massacre": White Violence and the End of Reconstruction in the South 284

Chapter 9 "We Shall Be Recognized As Men": The Reconstruction Era in Memory 321

Epilogue The Spirit of Freedom Monument 346

Acknowledgments 359

Notes 363

Index 421

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even to this day , I heard from my mother that a older women who was living in the same Apartments who moved from a place that was socially sheltered . She was sitting with my mother and a few others. Then she motioned to a African American woman who was walking toward them . The woman sitting with them said "Does she live here? " others said "Yes she does" The woman said" why don't she go live with her own kind?" there are still strong racism people in 2014!!