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Reconstructing Appalachia

Reconstructing Appalachia: The Civil War's Aftermath

Introduction by Gordon B. McKinney
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 390
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    Reconstructing Appalachia
    Book Description:

    Families, communities, and the nation itself were irretrievably altered by the Civil War and the subsequent societal transformations of the nineteenth century. The repercussions of the war incited a broad range of unique problems in Appalachia, including political dynamics, racial prejudices, and the regional economy.

    Andrew L. Slap's anthology Reconstructing Appalachia reveals life in Appalachia after the ravages of the Civil War, an unexplored area that has left a void in historical literature. Addressing a gap in the chronicles of our nation, this vital collection explores little-known aspects of history with a particular focus on the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction periods. Acclaimed scholars John C. Inscoe, Gordon B. McKinney, and Ken Fones-Wolf are joined by up-and-comers like Mary Ella Engel, Anne E. Marshall, and Kyle Osborn in a unique volume of essays investigating postwar Appalachia with clarity and precision.

    Featuring a broad geographic focus, these compelling essays cover postwar events in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This approach provides an intimate portrait of Appalachia as a diverse collection of communities where the values of place and family are of crucial importance.Highlighting a wide array of topics including racial reconciliation, tension between former Unionists and Confederates, the evolution of post--Civil War memory, and altered perceptions of race, gender, and economic status, Reconstructing Appalachia is a timely and essential study of a region rich in heritage and tradition.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7378-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction Appalachia, 1865–1910
    (pp. 1-22)
    Gordon B. McKinney

    The decades following the Civil War in Appalachia were a time of decline and growth, confusion and organization, poverty and riches. As the work in this volume will demonstrate, our understanding of this complex period is deepening. At the same time, however, scholars and general readers alike have come to recognize that many of our traditional understandings are no longer available to us. This is not a problem unique to observers from our own time; the people who lived in Appalachia from the end of the Civil War until the beginning of the twentieth century felt a similar level of...

  5. Chapter 1 A New Frontier Historians, Appalachian History, and the Aftermath of the Civil War
    (pp. 23-48)
    Andrew L. Slap

    John C. Inscoe, one of the deans of Appalachian history, commented in 2002 that “curiously, the Civil War era has been among the last to attract the full-fledged attention of Appalachian scholars.” While historians belatedly studied the Civil War in the mountain South, Inscoe observed that “Reconstruction remains one of the least examined eras” in the region’s history. The field of Reconstruction—or, even more broadly, postwar—Appalachia started auspiciously in 1978 with Gordon B. McKinney’sSouthern Mountain Republicans, 1865–1900.McKinney sought to test the validity of Appalachian stereotypes by analyzing why the region was the sole center of...

  6. Chapter 2 Reconstruction-era Violence in North Georgia The Mossy Creek Ku Klux Klan’s Defense of Local Autonomy
    (pp. 49-70)
    Keith S. Hébert

    The Mossy Creek Ku Klux Klan formed shortly after the Republican Party’s strong second-place showing in White and Habersham counties during the 1868 Georgia gubernatorial election. From the summer of 1868 through the November presidential election, the KKK unleashed a wave of intimidation and violence designed to reduce further the political power of the region’s Republican minority. In White County, the Klan’s tactics produced immediate political gains, as the Democratic Party received an additional 258-vote majority.¹

    Politics influenced the founding of the Mossy Creek Ku Klux Klan, but by the end of 1868 the organization had shifted its focus toward...

  7. Chapter 3 UnReconstructed Appalachia The Persistence of War in Appalachia
    (pp. 71-104)
    T. R. C. Hutton

    In September 1874 an interracial gang of sixteen men rode into the small county seat of Jackson, Kentucky, and forcibly took possession of the courthouse. They were led by William Strong, a local farmer who had been one of eastern Kentucky’s most influential Unionists during the Civil War, thereby securing a reputation for theft and terrorism against civilians. After returning from cavalry service in 1863, Strong’s war had primarily been fought in his home territory, an isolated, sparsely populated mountain county that, unlike many others in eastern Kentucky, had maintained a staunch pro-Confederate majority. Although he was temporarily successful in...

  8. Chapter 4 “The Other War Was but the Beginning” The Politics of Loyalty in Western North Carolina, 1865–1867
    (pp. 105-134)
    Steven E. Nash

    “You have been a happy people in the old North State,” mused Mira Brown of Columbia, Tennessee, in a letter to a western North Carolina relative during the summer of 1865. There was no trace of humor or irony in those words. Blue- and gray-clad armies had fought over her middle Tennessee community for four years during the American Civil War, inflicting hardship and suffering upon all segments of society. She worried she might never recover from the ordeal, which made her grief condescending at times. Only those directly touched by the regular armies, she implied to her friends and...

  9. Chapter 5 “Resistless Uprising”? Thomas Dixon’s Uncle and Western North Carolinians as Klansmen and Statesmen
    (pp. 135-162)
    Paul Yandle

    It is well known that author Thomas Dixon dedicatedThe Clansman,his fictionalized account of Klan activity on the North Carolina–South Carolina border, to Leroy Mangum McAfee. McAfee was from Cleveland County, Dixon’s home county, just east of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge and just north of the South Carolina line. During the Klan’s heyday in the early 1870s, Cleveland County had between six hundred and eight hundred members in the organization, and McAfee was one of the county’s Klan leaders.¹ “A Scotch-Irish leader of the South … Grand Titan of the Invisible Empire Ku Klux Klan,” Dixon calls McAfee...

  10. Chapter 6 Reconstructing Race Parson Brownlow and the Rhetoric of Race in Postwar East Tennessee
    (pp. 163-184)
    Kyle Osborn

    In April 1867 a notable letter appeared in theKnoxville (TN) Whig.It was a political endorsement of Tennessee governor William “Parson” Brownlow allegedly written by an African American named J. B. Thomas. In the letter, Thomas explained that before the Civil War, when he was a slave—and, inexplicably, a Democrat as well—he was convinced that “Brownlow was the worst man on earth.” But the Parson’s loyalty to the Union during the Civil War and his support for black suffrage during Reconstruction had lifted Thomas from his Democratic leanings. “You have fought through the struggle,” Thomas told him,...

  11. Chapter 7 Gathering Georgians to Zion John Hamilton Morgan’s 1876 Mission to Georgia
    (pp. 185-210)
    Mary Ella Engel

    In 1975 Mormon historian Leonard Arrington stood before an Atlanta meeting of the American Historical Association to challenge interpretations that limited the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to regional accounts of the Northeast or West. While the number of southerners to convert to Mormonism was never large, he acknowledged, the story of southern Saints “deserves recounting, both because of what it tells us about the South and what it tells us about Mormonism.” This essay goes further, arguing that the story of the Southern States Mission to Georgia in the 1870s also tells us something...

  12. Chapter 8 “Neither War nor Peace” West Virginia’s Reconstruction Experience
    (pp. 211-236)
    Randall S. Gooden

    A combination of political, social, and economic circumstances made peace elusive in West Virginia at the close of the Civil War. Like other border states, West Virginia faced the difficulties of dealing with former enemies living in the same communities: one group defeated and resentful of their loss, the other victorious and suspicious of their rebellious neighbors. Strife over the status and roles of African Americans did not erupt as it did in the South; but as in the southern states, as well as other border states, West Virginia struggled with questions about the loyalty of ex-Confederates to the United...

  13. Chapter 9 A House Redivided From Sectionalism to Political Economy in West Virginia
    (pp. 237-268)
    Ken Fones-Wolf

    In 1891, nearly three decades after West Virginia achieved statehood, Gov. A. B. Fleming alerted potential investors that the “vast possibilities of the State are as yet scarcely realized.” He noted that railroad companies, potential new residents, and investors had “swept heedlessly by” the state, unaware of the millions of acres of virtually “untouched” valuable original forests and “vast mineral resources.” According to Fleming, no other state possessed such cheap and abundant raw materials or offered “such conspicuous opportunities for safe and profitable investment of capital.”¹ Fleming spoke for a faction of the Democratic Party that sought to graft industrial...

  14. Chapter 10 “Grudges and Loyalties Die So Slowly” Contested Memories of the Civil War in Pennsylvania’s Appalachia
    (pp. 269-292)
    Robert M. Sandow

    On a late October night, as the Civil War dragged on into its third year, Deputy Marshal Cyrus Butler descended on a mountain cabin to apprehend an Appalachian farmer resisting the draft. The mountaineer, Joseph Lansberry, mortally shot the government official before escaping arrest with the help of his community. Such stories are common in the myths and history of Southern Appalachia; but this incident occurred in Northern Appalachia. While there is robust scholarship on the Southern Appalachians, a fact underscored by the essays in this collection, the Northern stretches of this mountain chain are both significant and significantly underexamined....

  15. Chapter 11 The Lost Cause That Wasn’t East Tennessee and the Myth of Unionist Appalachia
    (pp. 293-322)
    Tom Lee

    In September 2007, the History Channel premieredHillbilly: The Real Story.The two-hour special included action scenes filmed at the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area in Elizabethton, Tennessee, featuring cast members from Tennessee’s official outdoor drama,Liberty!“You hear a lot of talk about ‘branding’ from high-priced consultants,” said Jon Ruetz,Liberty!author and director, “but, as far as we’re concerned, our region’s brand is right here in front of us. In a real sense, we are who we were, and the stories of our heroic ancestors are the best of America.” The story reenacted each summer at Sycamore Shoals—...

  16. Chapter 12 “A Northern Wedge Thrust into the Heart of the Confederacy” Explaining Civil War Loyalties in the Age of Appalachian Discovery, 1900–1921
    (pp. 323-348)
    John C. Inscoe

    The first comprehensive codification of southern Appalachian life and culture came in the early twentieth century. Regional commentaries through much of the nineteenth century had been primarily travel narratives, firsthand descriptions of scenic vistas and flora and fauna along with observations of the often quaint customs and folk life of southern highlanders, or local-color writing, which conveyed much of the same in fictional form.¹ But by the turn of the century, these impressionistic, localized, and often anecdotal accounts began to give way to more serious and systematic ethnographic assessments of mountain people by missionaries, social workers, and academics. The work...

  17. Chapter 13 Civil War Memory in Eastern Kentucky Is “Predominately White” The Confederate Flag in Unionist Appalachia
    (pp. 349-366)
    Anne E. Marshall

    On a cold December day in 2004, Jacqueline Duty, a defiant-looking teenager from Greenup County, Kentucky, stood outside the federal courthouse in Lexington. In her hands she was holding a strapless dress emblazoned from bust to toe with red, blue, and silver sequins in the shape of a Confederate battle flag. Duty had worn the dress seven months earlier on the night of her senior prom in May 2004. According to court documents Duty and her lawyers filed that December day, Duty had long dreamed of wearing such a dress, and she had spent several years designing it. She never...

  18. List of Contributors
    (pp. 367-370)
  19. Index
    (pp. 371-380)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 381-381)