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Yankee Town, Southern City

Yankee Town, Southern City: Race and Class Relations in Civil War Lynchburg

Steven Elliott Tripp
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 362
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  • Book Info
    Yankee Town, Southern City
    Book Description:

    One of the most hotly debated issues in the historical study of race relations is the question of how the Civil War and Reconstruction affected social relations in the South. Did the War leave class and race hierarchies intact? Or did it mark the profound disruption of a long-standing social order? Yankee Town, Southern City examines how the members of the southern community of Lynchburg, Virginia experienced four distinct but overlapping events--Secession, Civil War, Black Emancipation, and Reconstruction. By looking at life in the grog shop, at the military encampment, on the street corner, and on the shop floor, Steven Elliott Tripp illustrates the way in which ordinary people influenced the contours of race and class relations in their town.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8428-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-xii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    This is a study of how the people of one Southern community—Lynchburg, Virginia—experienced four distinct but overlapping events: Secession, Civil War, black emancipation, and Reconstruction. It was a volatile period in the town’s history. The combined effects of these events influenced all areas of life, none more so than race and class relations. Although relations between black and white, rich and poor, had long been contentious, the tumultuousness of the era gave lower-class blacks and whites greater incentive to redefine their place in the town’s social order. The relative successes and failures of their efforts are largely what...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Yankee Town, Southern City
    (pp. 6-47)

    On the eve of the Civil War, Lynchburg, Virginia, enjoyed a national reputation as a progressive, enterprising city. Founded in the mid-eighteenth century by Charles Lynch as a trading depot on the southern bank of the James River, the town quickly gained prominence as a regional tobacco market. One hundred miles upstream from Richmond, local tobacco farmers found Lynchburg a convenient place to ship their tobacco, store it, and have it inspected by state agents before selling it at auction to eastern merchants. By 1840, Lynchburg tobacco accounted for nearly one-quarter (23.4 percent) of all tobacco inspected in Virginia. As...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Religion, Rum, and Race: Lower-Class Life in Antebellum Lynchburg
    (pp. 48-84)

    On Sunday, January 6, 1861, sixteen-year-old Jannett Cleland, the only daughter of the town’s gas fitter, presented herself for membership at Lynchburg’s First Presbyterian Church. Although Cleland had grown up in the church, she confided in her diary that the day had been “the most important… of my life.” To Jannett, the ceremony had been a dramatic event. Along with several other probationers, she was asked to make a public confession of her faith to demonstrate her fitness for church membership. Although the ritual momentarily isolated her before the congregation, the ceremony affirmed her as a new member of the...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Many Battles of Lynchburg
    (pp. 85-162)

    The events of the Secession winter of 1860–1861 convinced Lynchburg’s men of property and standing that they ruled a society united by bonds of deference, paternalism, white superiority, and economic ascendancy. Five years later, they would not be so confident. Military mobilization, poverty, and death created animosities that elites were unable to control, much less resolve, as they had once done. True, not all the intracommunity conflicts directly challenged the foundations of the South’s old order. Laboring whites and blacks often complained about issues that in hindsight seem insignificant or unique to the war itself. Nevertheless, by constantly testing...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR “These Troublesome Times”: Rebuilding Lynchburg after the War
    (pp. 163-204)

    In late March 1865, Charles Blackford, then stationed at Richmond, asked for and received a thirty-day pass to visit his wife and children, now living in Charlottesville with family. Before Charles could reach them, however, Lee surrendered. Unsure of the Confederacy’s future, Charles determined to stay in Charlottesville with his wife. They rented a one-room apartment at the University of Virginia and waited for the chaos in the countryside to subside, so that they could return to their home in Lynchburg. With only a few dollars, they lived mostly on gifts from family and friends.¹

    After two months, Charles determined...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE “To Crown Our Hearty Endeavors”: Religion, Race, and Class, 1865–1872
    (pp. 205-223)

    Before and during the war, devout Lynchburg residents had looked to evangelical Christianity as a source of stability, security, and reassurance. Now, in the aftermath of war and facing the uncertainties of black emancipation and Yankee rule, it was only natural that many Lynchburg residents continued to look to their religious leaders for spiritual and emotional support. Just a few weeks after Lee’s surrender, Jannett Cleland listened intently to a sermon by her minister, James Ramsey of First Presbyterian Church. Ramsey, though visibly shaken by defeat and fearful of the impending Yankee occupation, assured his congregation that they were still...

  11. CHAPTER SIX “The Mauling Science”: Black and White Violence and Vigilance, 1865–1872
    (pp. 224-249)

    On Tuesday, August 7, 1866, J. G. Perry, local editor for theLynchburg News, reported two weekend incidents of interracial violence, the likes of which were virtually unknown before black emancipation. The first had occurred the previous Saturday evening. On that night, a black gang accosted a white man, whom Perry identified only as an ex-Confederate soldier, as he walked along Twelfth Street on his way home. According to Perry, the incident began when one of the assailants shoved the man against a wall, cursing him as a “d—d rebel son of a——.” For a brief moment, the...

  12. EPILOGUE Lynchburg’s Centennial and Beyond
    (pp. 250-256)

    From October 12 through October 15, 1886, present and former Lynchburg residents gathered at the Fair Grounds to celebrate the town’s Centennial. According to one chronicler of the event, the occasion “proved a grand success.” From fifty thousand to seventy-five thousand people gathered to hear speeches, observe dramatic presentations and tableaux, and visit the many exhibits that showed off the talents of Lynchburg housewives, artisans, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers. Opulent decorations transformed Lynchburg from an aging factory town to a miracle of colors and lights. “From one end [of town] to the other,” the writer observed, “street vistas were worthy of...

  13. Appendixes
    (pp. 257-274)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 275-318)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 319-336)
  16. Index
    (pp. 337-344)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 345-345)