Historical Dictionary of the Civil War and Reconstruction

Overview

The importance of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the history of the United States cannot be overstated. Many historians regard the Civil War as the defining event in American history. At stake was not only freedom for 3.5 million slaves but also survival of the relatively new American experiment in self-government. A very real possibility existed that the union could have been severed, but a collection of determined leaders and soldiers proved their willingness to fight for the survival of what Abraham ...
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Historical Dictionary of the Civil War and Reconstruction

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Overview

The importance of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the history of the United States cannot be overstated. Many historians regard the Civil War as the defining event in American history. At stake was not only freedom for 3.5 million slaves but also survival of the relatively new American experiment in self-government. A very real possibility existed that the union could have been severed, but a collection of determined leaders and soldiers proved their willingness to fight for the survival of what Abraham Lincoln called "the last best hope on earth." The second edition of this highly readable, one-volume Historical Dictionary of the Civil War and Reconstruction looks to place the war in its historical context. The more than 800 entries, encompassing the years 1844-1877, cover the significant events, persons, politics, and economic and social themes of the Civil War and Reconstruction. An extensive chronology, introductory essay, and comprehensive bibliography supplement the cross-referenced dictionary entries to guide the reader through the military and non-military actions of one of the most pivotal events in American history. The dictionary concludes with a selection of primary documents. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the Civil War and Reconstruction.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
There is no doubt that the Civil War era is a complex, multifaceted period in U.S. history. In what could serve as a complementary volume to the recently published second edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Civil War (2011), Richter ably delves into the political side of the quagmire in his second edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The nearly 1,000-page tome offers a lengthy chronology of Civil War–related happenings covering the latter half of the nineteenth century, an explanatory introduction that serves to prove that there was much more to the Civil War period than the armies and the battles they fought, a dictionary section with in excess of 800 entries, a collection of appropriate primary source documents, and a well-organized, 132-page select bibliography. From Carpetbaggers to Scalawags, Abolitionists to the Ku Klux Klan, and Lincoln to Davis, readers will gain a solid understanding of the political aspects entwined with the Civil War and Reconstruction. Researchers will be able to use Richter’s terrific bibliography as a jumping-off point to a deeper probing of related topics. Although the Civil War was largely a somber period in history, Richteris not averse to infusing a bit of his sense of humor into his writing. For example, in describing Union general and later politician Daniel Sickles, Richter writes that Sickles was “generally an all-around man’s man or a jerk, depending on one’s point of view.” The infusion of apt lightheartedness helps to reinforce the humanity behind the people and events of history. As is the case with the other titles in the Historical Dictionaries series, Richter’s most recent effort is comprehensive and clearly written. It would certainly be a useful resource for anyone with an interest in the political landscape of the Civil War and Reconstruction era.
The Lone Star Book Review
This is an excellent library reference book and will also help the American Civil War historian or scholar who is into a lot of research work on this time period.
Library Journal
A select chronology begins this volume, followed by an introductory essay that reviews the changing historical interpretations of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Richter (The Army in Texas During Reconstruction, 1865–1870) then offers more than 800 entries, some cross-referenced, spanning 1844–77, on a wide variety of topics including politicians, legislation, notable women, battles and wars, and economics. Appendixes present documents related to the era (e.g., the constitutions of the United States and of the Confederacy). The select bibliography is arranged by topic. Although this is an updated edition, only a small number of the books listed were published after 2000. For example, the bibliography neglects Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005) and Joan Waugh's U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (2009). Richter's framing of events and citation of authors represents a distinctively Southern viewpoint. He refers to Lincoln as "Abe," a nickname Lincoln hated, and at one point refers to him as "a hack Whig politician." Information tends to be repeated throughout the book, e.g., there are two entries for Edmund Kirby Smith, one listed under K and the other under S, and they contain the same basic information, just worded differently. It should be noted that Lincoln delivered his "House Divided" speech in Springfield, IL, not Chicago. VERDICT This volume will appeal to readers who prefer a Southern interpretation of the War between the States.—Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community Coll., Mt. Carmel
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Product Details

Meet the Author

William L. Richter has researched and written extensively in the areas of the Antebellum South, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. He is the author of The Army in Texas during Reconstruction, 1865 - 1870 and he is coauthor of Fascinating People and Astounding Events in American History.
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