Second Founding: New York City, Reconstruction, and the Making of American Democracy / Edition 1

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At the close of the Civil War, Americans found themselves drawn into a new conflict, one in which the basic shape of the nation's government had to be rethought and new rules for the democratic game had to be established. In this superb new study, David Quigley argues that New York City's politics and politicians lay at the heart of Reconstruction's intense, conflicted drama. In ways that we understand all too well today, New York history became national history.

The establishment of a postwar interracial democracy required the tearing down and rebuilding of many basic tenets of American government, yet, as Quigley shows in dramatic detail, the white supremacist traditions of the nation's leading city militated against a genuine revision of America's racial order, for New York politicians placed limits on the possibilities of true Reconstruction at every turn. Still, change did occur and a new America did take shape. Ironically, it was in New York City that new languages and practices for public life were developing which left an indelible mark on progressive national politics. Quigley's signal accomplishment is to show that the innovative work of New York's black activists, Tammany Democrats, bourgeois reformers, suffragettes, liberal publicists, and trade unionists resulted in a radical redefinition of reform in urban America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this fascinating study of New York, and the nation, Quigley sets the story of the Reconstruction struggle over democracy against a riveting, crucial backdrop: the streets of Manhattan." —Jill Lepore, Harvard University

"Second Founding is an elegantly written, important piece of scholarship that is sure to be widely read and praised. Quigley offers fascinating insights into New York City's history in the Civil War years and demonstrates the city's central place in the national debates on race and class that shaped the post-war era." —Tyler Anbinder, author of Five Points: The Nineteenth-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections and Became the Worlds Most Notorious Slum

Kirkus Reviews
Legal lynchings, anti-civil rights demonstrations, official indifference to acts of violence against African-Americans: welcome to New York, ca. 1865. The New York draft riots that closely followed the Union victory at Gettysburg, observes Quigley (History/Boston College), marked "the worst incident of civil unrest in American history." Much of the rioters' wrath was directed at the government (one of their slogans was "Rich man's war, poor man's fight"), fueled by pro-Southern "Copperheads" among the city's Democratic Party operatives, who saw to it that Republicans were targeted. But, writes Quigley, the most sustained and rawest violence was directed at the black community; the largest black neighborhood was besieged for days, while the hospitals filled with hundreds of victims. The singling out of blacks was no accident, and even Republican politicians seemed little troubled by the fact that the city's victory parade at the end of the Civil War was fully segregated, as a prominent speaker argued that the US "is a government of white men, and should not and shall not be destroyed for the sake of the African." For many Tammany Hall operators, Quigley writes, Reconstruction meant little more than the opportunity for New Yorkers to benefit from the reopening of Southern ports and the flow of raw materials from the defeated Confederacy. But other New Yorkers took the opportunity to press for civil rights, universal suffrage, labor reforms, and other progressive measures. Their victories would be a long time in coming, as Reconstruction eventually faded and Gilded Age conservatism carried the day; but, Quigley suggests, their efforts amounted to no less than a second American revolution,one that extended democratic rights to even those not blessed with property or connections. "The unending tragedy of Reconstruction is the utter inability of the American mind to grasp its real significance," W.E.B. DuBois once remarked. Quigley's look at Reconstruction history in an unexpected quarter is a welcome addition to the scholarly literature.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809085132
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/13/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

David Quigley, a graduate of Amherst College and New York University, teaches history at Boston College. Second Founding is his first book.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Democratic Vistas (1863-1866)
1 After the Riots 3
2 Black Founders 15
3 Toward Reconstruction 27
Pt. 2 A New Politics (1866-1874)
4 An Age of Conventions 47
5 Acts of Enforcement 71
6 Liberty and the Postwar City 91
Pt. 3 The Ends of Reconstruction (1874-1880)
7 Tilden's America 111
8 "The proud name of 'Citizen' has sunk" 137
9 New York Reconstructed 161
Epilogue: Grant's Tomb 175
Notes 187
Bibliography 215
Acknowledgments 255
Index 229
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