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A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction

A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction

by Mark Wahlgren Summers
A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction

A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction

by Mark Wahlgren Summers


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Reconstruction policy after the Civil War, observes Mark Wahlgren Summers, was shaped not simply by politics, principles, and prejudices. Also at work were fears--often unreasonable fears of renewed civil war and a widespread sense that four years of war had thrown the normal constitutional process so dangerously out of kilter that the republic itself remained in peril.

To understand Reconstruction, Summers contends, one must understand that the purpose of the North's war was--first and foremost--to save the Union with its republican institutions intact. During Reconstruction there were always fears in the mix--that the Civil War had settled nothing, that the Union was still in peril, and that its enemies and the enemies of republican government were more resilient and cunning than normal mortals. Many factors shaped the reintegration of the former Confederate states and the North's commitment to Reconstruction, Summers agrees, but the fears of war reigniting, plots against liberty, and a president prepared to father a coup d'etat ranked higher among them than historians have recognized.

Both a dramatic narrative of the events of Reconstruction and a groundbreaking new look at what drove these events, A Dangerous Stir is also a valuable look at the role of fear in the politics of the time--and in politics in general.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469610405
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 12/01/2012
Series: Civil War America
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 342
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Mark Wahlgren Summers is Thomas D. Clark Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. He is the author of seven books, including Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884 and Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics (both UNC Press).

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From the Publisher

This critical interpretation of Reconstruction examines its political framework but quickly moves beyond politics into the pulsating realm of conspiracy and fear mongering. Author of numerous important books on nineteenth-century America, Summers has again provided a provocative and penetrating analysis of an extremely significant period of U.S. history. A Dangerous Stir is undeniably a must and stirring read!—Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln, Burroughs Professor of Southern History and Culture, Coastal Carolina University

Summers's newest and most important book is provocative in the best sense. The history of Reconstruction has long been trapped in stale verities. This volume deploys extensive research, stylistic wit, and arresting cartoons to open up controversial possibilities. Stirring the pot like this never wins universal acceptance. But those who are unconvinced will agree with the converts that assaults on the status quo rarely mix such imaginative energy with such solid good fun.—William W. Freehling, author of The Road to Disunion

There is perhaps no scholar more capable than Mark Summers to write with authority about the political culture of Reconstruction. With insight, skill, and wit, he recovers and explores a persistent but neglected theme in the writings of the era. In the process, he sheds new and valuable light on such traditional problems in Reconstruction historiography as the curious reaction of Southerners during the summer and fall of 1865, the behavior of President Andrew Johnson, and the increasing radicalization of Republican Reconstruction policies. This is an important book that was waiting to be written.—Mitchell Snay, author of Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction

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