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A Tour of Reconstruction

A Tour of Reconstruction: Travel Letters of 1875

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    A Tour of Reconstruction
    Book Description:

    Anna Dickinson's career as an orator began in her teenage years, when she gave her first impassioned speech on women's rights. By the age of twenty-one, she was spending at least six months per year on the road, delivering lectures on abolitionism, politics, and public affairs, and establishing herself as one of the nation's first celebrities. In March 1875, Dickinson departed from Washington, D.C., for an extended tour of the South, curious to see how far the region had progressed in the decade after Appomattox.

    In A Tour of Reconstruction, editor J. Matthew Gallman compiles Dickinson's commentary and observations to provide an honest depiction of the postwar South from the perspective of an outspoken radical abolitionist. She documents the continuing effects of the Civil War on the places she visited, and true to her inquisitive spirit, questions the societal developments she witnessed, seeking out black and white southerners to discuss issues of the day. Like many northern observers, she focuses on documenting race relations and the state of the southern economy, but she also details the public's reactions to her appearances, providing some of her most telling commentary. A Tour of Reconstruction, punctuated with a wealth of historical observations and entertaining anecdotes, is the story of one woman's experiences in the postbellum South.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3425-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Map of Anna Dickinson’s Route
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Anna Dickinson’s Itinerary
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    In late March 1875, popular orator Anna Dickinson set off from Washington, D.C., for an extended tour of the Reconstruction South. Dickinson was a professional public speaker who had arranged her itinerary in search of paying audiences, but she was also anxious to see what the South looked like a decade after Appomattox. Fortunately for us, she took copious notes and sent long letters home describing what she saw. Few moments in American history would be more interesting to visit than the South in 1875. And few observers could match Anna Dickinson’s critical eye and caustic wit. The result is...

  7. Raleigh, North Carolina 4.10.1875
    (pp. 29-62)

    Dearest Marmee,¹ I have been so mauled about, have gazed and gawked so constantly when I have not been in the cars & have been so ready to get into bed when the time came as not to have sent any letters, tho have sent many thoughts to thee.²

    It was a curious change—that from New York to Washington.—I put off my seal skin jacket that morning, & shivered a little in my heavy brown suit, in which I was almost cooked before I reached my journey’s end.

    It is a great relief that travellers have in these days in...

  8. Macon, Georgia 4.28.1875
    (pp. 63-102)

    My dearest Marmee,—If I were to take thee from Norfolk to Wilmington, even in imagination it would make me tired for thee.—As much as I had heard of the “pine barrens” & the “dismal swamp” of Carolina never did I dream of the reality.—All day long we rode, from early morning to nearly seven in the evening crossing the entire width of the state, & saw nothing but dreariness, dirt, poverty, brutishness, & desolation.—An unbroken unending, seemingly endless continuance of indifferent looking pines,—no grass, no undergrowth to them, the soil out of which they grow a dismal, dingy...

  9. Nashville, Tennessee 4.30.1875
    (pp. 103-132)

    Dearest Marmee,—I left thee getting into Charleston, at midnight.—A bright moonlight night, through which the light stone & brick of which the place is largely built, shone cheerfully,—but as for us we were in anything but a cheerful mood when we reached the hotel,—for it was literally crammed,—& scores of people could not be furnished with even cots, but had to sit up all night.—The rush of people home from Florida, was & still is, so tremendous, as to overrun all the hotels.—At last, however, by dint of an awfulrow—ing on Bernard & Harmont’s part...

  10. Evansville, Indiana 5.3.1875
    (pp. 133-148)

    Dearest Marmee,—I remembered, after scrawling from Nashville, that I did mean to tell thee about the “Hermitage” at Savannah.—It is one of the largest of the old rice plantations,—4000 acres,—& is still in the hands of the family that owned it for generations “before Sherman”—McAlpine,—a scotch family originally.¹

    It must have once been a very “fine” place, as they call places here fine.—The house stands a good mile back from the road, the avenue to it having an irregular, but handsome growth of live oaks, & plenty of flowers.—It,—the houses—faces the river,...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 149-164)
  12. Suggested Reading
    (pp. 165-168)
  13. Index
    (pp. 169-178)