Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898

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During Reconstruction, former abolitionists in the North had a golden opportunity to pursue true racial justice and permanent reform in America. But why, after the sacrifice made by thousands of Civil War patriots to arrive at this juncture, did the moment slip away, leaving many whites throughout the North and South more racist than before? Edward J. Blum takes a fresh look at this question in Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898, where he focuses on the vital role that religion played in reunifying northern and southern whites into a racially segregated society. He tells the fascinating story of how northern Protestantism, once the catalyst for racial egalitarianism, promoted the image of a "white republic" that conflated whiteness, godliness, and nationalism. A blend of history and social science, Reforging the White Republic offers a surprising perspective on the forces of religion as well as nationalism and imperialism at a critical point in American history.

LSU Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807132487
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 2.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward J. Blum is the coeditor of Vale of Tears: New Essays in Religion and Reconstruction. He is a fellow with the DuBois Center for the Advanced Study of Religion and Race at the University of Notre Dame.

Winner of the 2004 C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize of the Southern Historical Association.

LSU Press

Edward J. Blum is assistant professor of history at San Diego State University. He is coeditor of Vale of Tears: New Essays in Religion and Reconstruction and author of W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction : race, religion, and the fracturing of the white republic 1
1 The last and greatest battle of freedom 20
2 On the verge of heaven 51
3 The apostles of forgiveness 87
4 Inventor of legends miraculous 120
5 The white flag waves 146
6 No north, no south, no sectionalism in politics, no sex in citizenship 174
7 To the person sitting in darkness 209
Epilogue : dreaming of the white republic, defending the souls of black folk 244
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2008

    A must read if you enjoy a different side of the Aftermath of the Civil War

    This book was enjoyable to read because it did not limit itself to common opinions on why Reconstruction was ultimately unsuccessful. Its approach focused around religion, nationalism and causes of section reconciliation a topic not often shown as the most important. Blum was able to offer a reason for reconstructive failure unrelated to violence and a look from that microscope was refreshing. Aside from the knowledgable outlook of the book, as a student I found two things I really enjoyed. Most writers of history forget that they are presenting a book and trying to sell it to readers. Blum did not forget the beauty of writing and within his book he incorporated beautifully written sentences and descriptive prose, which was refreshing. As someone who enjoys writing I could tell that he felt equally as enthusiastic about writing his book. Secondly, Blum does a good job of incorporating all aspects of society. In his book he includes men both white and black, North and South, women of all colors and locations, famous people, as well as les known people. He covered all aspects of life and as a teacher I would make his book a required reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    Bloom is the man

    In Reforging the White Republic Edward Blum gives a detailed account of how the struggle for racial equality following the Civil War changed directions through different religious movements and the idea of American nationalism, to produce a northern and southern united white reunion. The book is an interesting read including the ideas of many different prominent figures in Reconstruction, and a very informative background to tie it all together. This book really helped me as a student to understand the shift in racial ideology that occured following the assasination of Lincoln.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2008

    Essential to Interpreting the Past

    If anyone has every studied the Civil War and Reconstruction, they would know that there are general interpretations of what the war meant and the end results following. This is not the case with Blum's book. His interpretation of incorporating religion and how these views dominated society, provides much insight into the mind set of the people. Other books tend to be boring and completely statistical, while Blum's book brings the post-reconstructed society to life by discussing the fears, passions, and desires that people felt. Overall, this book is essential if you want to hear something new, something different, and something refreshing about the post-Civil War and Reconstruction era. I will also add that his use of rhetoric could not be more clear and to the point when giving his interpretation. A must have book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2008

    A Fresh Perspective on Reconstruction

    Reforging the White Republic was as entertaining as it was innovative. A refreshing look at Reconstruction, Blum paints a picture of religious and racial ties. Blum argued that religion was one vehicle of transporting ideas of white supremacy and reunion between the white people of the North and South. The Northern white support for black equality shifted toward white reunion. This shift caused religious support and justification for white supremacy and segregation of the races. Blacks understood how segregation revealed white religious hypocrisy and in turn religious teachings altered teachings in the black protestant church as well. Blum¿s story unfolds through the stories of key figures in Reconstruction supported by great background knowledge analyzing the social, political, and racial environment which allowed for the emergence of these leaders. Reforging the White Republic was a surprisingly easy read and just as entertaining. It is fascinating to learn how Northern views shifted so dramatically, including Harriet Beecher Stowe¿s. Blum¿s analysis of reconstruction through race, religion and American nationalism provides a new, fresh, and critical view of post-Civil War society. The great factual information, creative argument, and easy read make this book great for the classroom.

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