The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction

Overview

In The Struggle for Equality, the renowned Civil War historian James McPherson offered an important and timely analysis of the abolitionist movement and the legal basis it provided to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. This work remains an incisive demonstration of the successful role played by rights activists during and after the Civil War, when they evolved from despised fanatics into influential spokespersons for the radical wing of the Republican party.

The vivid ...

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Overview

In The Struggle for Equality, the renowned Civil War historian James McPherson offered an important and timely analysis of the abolitionist movement and the legal basis it provided to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. This work remains an incisive demonstration of the successful role played by rights activists during and after the Civil War, when they evolved from despised fanatics into influential spokespersons for the radical wing of the Republican party.

The vivid narrative stresses the intensely individual efforts that characterized the movement, drawing on letters and anti-slavery periodicals to let the voices of the abolitionists express for themselves their triumphs and anxieties. Asserting that it was not the abolitionists who failed in their efforts to instill the principles of equality on the state level but rather the American people who refused to follow their leadership, McPherson raises broad questions about the obstacles that have long hindered American reform movements in general.

This new paperback edition contains a preface in which the author explains some of the changing perspectives that would lead him to write several aspects of this story differently today. The original hardcover was a winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award in Race Relations.

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Editorial Reviews

Reviews in American History
The Abolitionist Legacy shows many of the same graces as its predecessor: wide-ranging and careful research, a strong sense of story line, an eye for good quotations, unyielding sympathy for those who devoted their lives to uplifting the freedmen.
Political Science Quarterly
In addition to discussing the complex blend of egalitarianism and paternalism in the thought of white proponents of black advancement, McPherson offers suggestions of the intricate mixture of racial consciousness, individual ambition, and racial romanticism that continues to fuel modern black separatism.
The Times Literary Supplement
Must surely be assigned an important place in the literature of the history of ideas and of race relations in the United States.
Library Journal
These volumes, published in 1975 and 1964, respectively, chronicle the abolitionist movement from before the Civil War to the part it played in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. LJ's reviewer found The Abolitionist Legacy an "ably researched, well-written book" (LJ 12/15/75).
From the Publisher

Winner of the Warren F. Kuehl Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

"Must surely be assigned an important place in the literature of the history of ideas and of race relations in the United States."--
The Times Literary Supplement

"The Abolitionist Legacy shows many of the same graces as its predecessor: wide-ranging and careful research, a strong sense of story line, an eye for good quotations, unyielding sympathy for those who devoted their lives to uplifting the freedmen."--
Reviews in American History

"In addition to discussing the complex blend of egalitarianism and paternalism in the thought of white proponents of black advancement, McPherson offers suggestions of the intricate mixture of racial consciousness, individual ambition, and racial romanticism that continues to fuel modern black separatism."--
Political Science Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691005553
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1967
  • Edition description: 2nd ed. pbk. ... / with a new preface by
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 486
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author


James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Battle Cry of Freedom" and the "New York Times" bestseller "Crossroads of Freedom".
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    1. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 11, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Valley City, North Dakota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN) 1958; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1963

Table of Contents

Preface to the 1995 Edition
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 3
Ch. I The Election of 1860 9
Ch. II Secession and the Coming of War 29
Ch. III The Emancipation Issue: 1861 52
Ch. IV Emancipation and Public Opinion: 1861-1862 75
Ch. V The Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment 99
Ch. VI The Negro: Innately Inferior or Equal? 134
Ch. VII Freedmen's Education: 1861-1865 154
Ch. VIII The Creation of the Freedmen's Bureau 178
Ch. IX Men of Color, to Arms! 192
Ch. X The Quest for Equal Rights in the North 221
Ch. XI The Ballot and Land for the Freedmen: 1861-1865 238
Ch. XII The Reelection of Lincoln 260
Ch. XIII Schism in the Ranks: 1864-1865 287
Ch. XIV Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction: 1865 308
Ch. XV The Fourteenth Amendment and the Election of 1866 341
Ch. XVI Military Reconstruction and Impeachment 367
Ch. XVII Education and Confiscation: 1865-1870 386
Ch. XVIII The Climax of the Crusade: the Fifteenth Amendment 417
Bibliographical Essay 433
Index 451
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