A Short History of Reconstruction, Updated Edition
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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.
Tredegar Iron Works. In 1880, with a per capita income only one-third that of the rest of the nation, the South lagged farther behind the North in the total value of its agricultural and industrial output than when the decade began. As upcountry yeomen again found themselves engulfed by poverty and indebtedness, the trend toward cotton production and reliance on merchants for food and supplies rapidly accelerated. And along with cotton came the inexorable growth of tenancy. In one upcountry
many black leaders dependent on their official salaries for a livelihood, and both officeholders and ordinary freedmen feared that retrenchment meant cuts in state programs like education, of special concern to their community. Many blacks, moreover, continued to look to the activist state to ease their econmic plight. “We will never be any good only to serve all the days of our lives if we don’t get help from our government,” wrote one freedman, calling for state aid for those seeking to acquire
Sess., House Report 22. For specific instances of violence, see Melinda M. Hennessey, “Political Terrorism in the Black Belt: The Eutaw Riot, Alabama Review 33 (January 1980): 35–48, Gene L. Howard, Death at Cross pains: An Alabama Reconstruction Tragedy (University, Ala., 1984), and J. C. A. Stagg, The Problem of Klan Violence: The South Carolina Up-Country, 1868–1871, Journal of American Studies S (December 1974): 303–18. One state’s effort to suppress violence is recounted in Ann P. Baenziger,
martyred predecessor. Both knew poverty in early life, neither enjoyed much formal schooling, and in both deprivation sparked a powerful desire for fame and worldly success. During the prewar decades, both achieved material comfort, Lincoln as an Illinois corporation lawyer, Andrew Johnson rising from tailor s apprentice to become a prosperous landowner. And for both, antebellum politics became a path to power and respect. In terms of sheer political experience, few men have seemed more
longstanding conflicts acquired altered meanings, and new groups emerged into political consciousness. From the earliest days of settlement, there had never been a single white South, and in the nineteenth century the region as a whole, and each state within it, was divided into areas with sharply differing political economies. The plantation belt, which encompassed the South’s most fertile lands, supported a flourishing agriculture integrated into the world market for cotton, rice, sugar, and