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West from Appomattox

West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War

Heather Cox Richardson
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    West from Appomattox
    Book Description:

    The story of Reconstruction is not simply about the rebuilding of the South after the Civil War. Instead, the late nineteenth century defined modern America, as Southerners, Northerners, and Westerners gradually hammered out a national identity that united three regions into a country that could become a world power. Ultimately, the story of Reconstruction is about how a middle class formed in America and how its members defined what the nation would stand for, both at home and abroad, for the next century and beyond.A sweeping history of the United States from the era of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, this engaging book stretches the boundaries of our understanding of Reconstruction. Historian Heather Cox Richardson ties the North and West into the post-Civil War story that usually focuses narrowly on the South, encompassing the significant people and events of this profoundly important era.By weaving together the experiences of real individuals-from a plantation mistress, a Native American warrior, and a labor organizer to Andrew Carnegie, Julia Ward Howe, Booker T. Washington, and Sitting Bull-who lived during the decades following the Civil War and who left records in their own words, Richardson tells a story about the creation of modern America.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13785-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Map of America in 1865
    (pp. None)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    A week after the 2004 presidential election, a friend sent me a map of America with the red and blue states superimposed over the Confederate and Union states of the Civil War years. The Republican red states fit almost perfectly over the southern states that supported the Confederacy and the western plains that were territories during the 1860s, and the Democratic blue states fit closely over the states that had supported the Union. The caption of the map suggested that today’s voters were still fighting the same issues over which they went to war in 1861. I was fascinated by...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Spring 1865: The View from the Civil War
    (pp. 8-38)

    After an uneasy night, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant awoke on April 9, 1865, still suffering from a migraine that had hit the day before. Tired and aching, he pulled on rough army clothes, mounted his horse, and rode out toward Appomattox Station, Virginia, where his men had engaged an advance column of soldiers from General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. On the way to the head of the column, Grant received a message from Lee, who requested an interview for the purpose of surrendering his army. “When the officer reached me I was still suffering with the...

  7. CHAPTER TWO 1865–1867: The Future of Free Labor
    (pp. 39-77)

    The Union victory in the Civil War meant the nationalization of northerners’ free labor worldview, but no one knew quite how to translate the northern ideal of free labor into a working economic and political reality. For Nat Love, working tobacco for his master in Tennessee, the end of the war didn’t actually change much. “In common with other masters of those days,” Love recalled, his master “did not tell us we were free. And instead of letting us go he made us work for him the same as before, but in all other respects he was kind. He moved...

  8. CHAPTER THREE 1868–1871: Conflicting Visions
    (pp. 78-120)

    Sustaining free labor, it seemed, depended on a growing national government, but a strong government could be dangerous if it were hijacked by those who would use its power against others. By 1868, those who believed that all Americans shared the same interests were nervous, fearing that radical African Americans would disrupt the system. Compounding their fears were wage earners who were organizing to demand legislation establishing shorter hours and better working conditions. Cigar maker Samuel Gompers was a barrel-chested man with heavy features, dark hair, and a walrus mustache who tended toward fat and waddled when he walked, looking...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR 1872: A New Middle Ground
    (pp. 121-147)

    By 1872, the strains of reconstruction were approaching a crisis. The extension of suffrage to an undereducated population at the very time that new tax laws supported a newly active government raised the specter of a bloated government supporting a population of lazy ne’er-dowells, despite the fact that in 1872 the Treasury ran a surplus of $94 million and spent only $270 million, of which less than 36 percent of the grand total—$130 million—came from taxes. (In today’s dollars, that translates to a surplus of $1.4 billion, expenditures of $4 billion, and a little less than $2 billion...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE 1873–1880: Years of Unrest
    (pp. 148-186)

    Almost as soon as the coalition of Liberal Republicans and Democrats, forged during the election of 1872, presented their new mainstream vision of America, they worried that special interests were attacking their ideals of citizenship and government. From the time of the Panic of 1873 to the economic recovery at the end of the decade, they faced example after example of government under siege as the economically threatened insisted that systematic inequalities in society simply had to be addressed. When a serious recession pinched everyone, the tension between the view of government as impartial and the call for government activism...

  11. CHAPTER SIX 1881–1885: Years of Consolidation
    (pp. 187-230)

    For his part, twenty-one-year-old Theodore Roosevelt was as concerned as anyone could be about America’s control by special interests. As a child he had watched Lincoln’s funeral procession from his grandfather’s New York City home, and in 1880, only fifteen years later, the world for which Lincoln had laid down his life seemed to be falling apart. In New York City, children were working rather than attending school, laboring men were at their jobs as many as sixteen hours a day, and drunkenness, prostitution, and vice spread across the city as the stringent budgets of the post-Tweed years meant fewer...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN 1886–1892: The Struggle Renewed
    (pp. 231-273)

    Julia Ward Howe may or may not have seen Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It would have been unlike her to go to such a rowdy public production, where spectators drank and yelled and stamped their boots on the wooden grandstands. But she loved theater so much that her first reaction to Lincoln’s assassination was to worry that the actor Booth’s “atrocious act, which was consummated in a very theatrical manner, is enough to ruin . . . the theatrical profession.” Howe fervently embraced the image that Buffalo Bill portrayed of a society purged of special interests, yet she supported...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT 1893–1897: The Final Contest
    (pp. 274-306)

    Would the American individualist ideal, supported by an activist government, represent the nation? Or would those who recognized that racial boundaries, economic dislocations, and gender discrimination systematically enforced inequality make Americans recognize that the individualist ideal was not accessible to all? During the 1890s, the fight to control the government became a critical fight over who, in fact, spoke for “the American people.” Was it the disaffected, the poor, those who were squeezed by current national policies and who were, in many cases, homeless and starving? Or was it those who were prospering in the American system and who disliked...

  14. CHAPTER NINE 1898–1901: Reunion
    (pp. 307-342)

    The election of 1896 settled the dominance of the mainstream vision of American life, but it did not offer sectional reunification on grounds that would enable the nation to move forward as an internationally dominant power. Reunification ultimately came not from a resolution of the disagreements over the nation’s political economy, but from the powerful western image that the American people had come to associate with middleclass values. In 1898, they made these values grounds for political action in the Spanish-American War, asserting American individualism in a foreign arena.

    At the end of the nineteenth century, Owen Wister wroteThe...

  15. Epilogue
    (pp. 343-349)

    The late nineteenth century defined modern America. Fewer than forty years separated the presidency of Roosevelt from that of Abraham Lincoln, but it is impossible to imagine the two men exchanging eras. Lincoln took the country into the Civil War to protect the idea that opportunity should be open to any man—no matter his race or background. By the time Roosevelt moved into the White House in 1901, the nation had reunited, but its principles were no longer inclusive. Instead of offering a hand to the poor and disfranchised, government dedicated itself to advancing the interests of a new,...

  16. Map of America in 1901
    (pp. None)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 351-388)
  18. Index
    (pp. 389-396)