After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace

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Overview

A brilliant evocation of the post-Civil War era by the acclaimed author of Patriots and Union 1812. After Lincoln tells the story of the Reconstruction, which set back black Americans and isolated the South for a century.

With Lincoln’s assassination, his “team of rivals,” in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s phrase, was left adrift. President Andrew Johnson, a former slave owner from Tennessee, was challenged by Northern Congressmen, Radical Republicans led by Thaddeus Stephens and ...

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After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace

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Overview

A brilliant evocation of the post-Civil War era by the acclaimed author of Patriots and Union 1812. After Lincoln tells the story of the Reconstruction, which set back black Americans and isolated the South for a century.

With Lincoln’s assassination, his “team of rivals,” in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s phrase, was left adrift. President Andrew Johnson, a former slave owner from Tennessee, was challenged by Northern Congressmen, Radical Republicans led by Thaddeus Stephens and Charles Sumner, who wanted to punish the defeated South. When Johnson’s policies placated the rebels at the expense of the black freed men, radicals in the House impeached him for trying to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Johnson was saved from removal by one vote in the Senate trial, presided over by Salmon Chase. Even William Seward, Lincoln’s closest ally in his cabinet, seemed to waver.

By the 1868 election, united Republicans nominated Ulysses Grant, Lincoln's winning Union general. The night of his victory, Grant lamented to his wife, “I’m afraid I’m elected.” His attempts to reconcile Southerners with the Union and to quash the rising Ku Klux Klan were undercut by post-war greed and corruption during his two terms.

Reconstruction died unofficially in 1887 when Republican Rutherford Hayes joined with the Democrats in a deal that removed the last federal troops from South Carolina and Louisiana. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill with protections first proposed in 1872 by the Radical Senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
05/26/2014
Langguth (Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution) takes a warts-and-all approach in profiling the major figures of the Reconstruction. Bitter rivalries within the Republican Party, the impeachment of an accidental president, and the unlikely hanging of a female assassination conspirator all resulted in a tumultuous post–Civil War period that also kick-started what would later become the Civil Rights movement. Langguth employs brief biographical sketches of key figures to describe the turf wars that arose in the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, the fight to protect newly freed slaves, and the internal administrative battle over the degree of punitive efforts towards the South. His primarily chronological vignettes range from those on Lincoln’s bickering cabinet members and antagonistic legislators to former CSA president Jefferson Davis, iconic newspaperman Horace Greeley, and the first African-American governor, P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana. Langguth’s well-placed and humanizing personal details about the strident men orchestrating Reconstruction and Johnson’s impeachment add depth and immediacy to the significant struggles of reuniting North and South, while clearly showing the harsh results of their actions in a post-Lincoln United States. 20 b&w illus. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-26
A new political history of Reconstruction. Former New York Times reporter Langguth (Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War, 2010, etc.) has written three previous volumes in this series of character-driven histories, beginning with Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution (1988), and this will be the final volume. There is a scene in the early pages of this history of the tumultuous period following the Civil War that makes clear just how much regional enmity remained after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner made some barbed comments about South Carolina during an abolitionist speech, and a congressman from that state came to Sumner's office a few days later and beat him senseless with a wooden cane. Sumner took months to recover. During this period, the Union established voting rights and economic freedoms for freed slaves across the South, though such rights would be short-lived. The story begins at the end of the Civil War and moves forward through biographical sketches of Andrew Johnson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, William Henry Steward, Edwin Stanton, Horace Greeley and others. The author ends with a portrait of Jim Crow and the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Popular history has largely forgotten how progressive Reconstruction was—African-Americans were elected to many public offices in the South, had high voting rates and experienced economic opportunities unimaginable during the Civil War—and how "states' rights" supporters slowly took those gains away during the Jim Crow era. The power of the Ku Klux Klan to strike fear was very real, no matter how foreign it seems today. This is a cogent, well-researched, well-told history of that important period. Langguth shows rather than explains, and the result is a rich history of an understudied period of American history.
BookPage
“Magnificent. . . . Langguth skillfully illuminates the roles of key figures and offers enlightening commentary on events.”
Buffalo News
“A solid new look at this tumultuous period when the Civil War was won, but the winners could not agree on what to do with victory.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“A comprehensive account of the colossal failures of the aftermath of the Civil War and what turned out to be one big constitutional crisis also known as Reconstruction.”
Harold Holzer
“For nearly 50 years, A. J. Langguth has brightened the fields of global and American history with books offering brisk prose, careful research, and original analysis. At last he has turned his attention to post-Civil War Reconstruction, and the result is a lively, gripping tale in which lofty ideals collide with narrow minds to produce lost opportunities. Langguth manages to elevate frustration to the realm of high drama, producing a page-turner that reminds us afresh of how Lincoln’s plans for a new America could not be achieved without his leadership.”
Robert W. Merry
“Thomas Carlyle famously popularized the idea that world history “is but the biography of great men.’’ A. J. Langguth brilliantly applies that dictum to America’s fateful Reconstruction period. In rendering vivid and insightful portraits of the powerful figures who dominated that drama, Langguth creates a kind of literary booster rocket that propels his readers into a pivotal period of governmental intrigue, power politics, moral intensity, and constitutional crisis.”
Diane McWhorter
“A. J. Langguth brings Reconstruction and its attendant issues to vivid life through a cast of all-stars ranging from Charles Sumner to Andrew Johnson to Grant and Greeley—all conspiring toward the tragic rendezvous with Jim Crow. This history lesson is a stirring narrative, a pleasure throughout, leaving the reader nourished and enlightened.”
John Taliaferro
“The Civil War tore the American republic in two. After Lincoln tells the story of the men whose task it was to stitch the parts back together. A. J. Langguth’s reckoning of Reconstruction is itself a handsome piece of needlework, tight and vivid. Here are keenly limned profiles in courage and resolve. Here, too, is a rogue’s gallery of grudge and self-interest. The total tapestry highlights the shining strengths and hidebound flaws that continue to define our national identity.”
From the Publisher
"Langguth takes a warts-and-all approach in profiling the major figures of the Reconstruction." —-Publishers Weekly
Bookreporter.com
"A brilliant evocation of the post-Civil War era by the acclaimed author of Patriots and Union 1812. After Lincoln tells the story of the Reconstruction, which set back black Americans and isolated the South for a century."
Library Journal
09/01/2014
This is the fourth book in Langguth's (Union 1812) popular history of the United States that starts with the American Revolution and includes volumes on the War of 1812 and the rise of American sectionalism under President Andrew Jackson. Langguth chose to skip a volume dedicated to the American Civil War and focuses here on Reconstruction. He tells the story chiefly through a series of minibiographies of important figures of the Reconstruction era including Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant as well as lesser-known figures such as Pinckney Benton Stewart "P.B.S." Pinchback and Oliver O. Howard. When Reconstruction ended is a subject of debate for historians, and Langguth concludes his story with Rutherford B. Hayes's withdrawal of the last occupying federal soldiers from the South in 1877. The author places much of the blame for the failure of Reconstruction on Northern racism, indifference to the plight of freed slaves, endemic corruption in Republican presidential administrations, and the Republican-controlled congress. VERDICT This book will appeal to both casual and scholarly readers of history as well as those who enjoyed Eric Foner's Reconstruction and similar titles.—Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451617320
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/16/2014
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 78,279
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

A.J Langguth is the author of eight books of nonfiction and three novels. After Lincoln marks his fourth book in a series that began in 1988 with Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution. He was Saigon bureau chief for the New York Times and covered the Civil Rights Movement. He taught at the University of Southern California for twenty-seven years and retired in 2003 as emeritus professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He lives in Los Angeles.
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