Pulitzer Prize Finalist Winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize Winner of the Merle Curti Prize
“Perhaps the highest praise one can offer McCurry’s work is to say that once we look through her eyes, it will become almost impossible to believe that we ever saw or thought otherwise.”Drew Gilpin Faust, The New Republic
The story of the Confederate States of America, the proslavery, antidemocratic nation created by white Southern slaveholders to protect their property, has been told many times in heroic and martial narratives. Now, however, Stephanie McCurry tells a very different tale of the Confederate experience. When the grandiosity of Southerners’ national ambitions met the harsh realities of wartime crises, unintended consequences ensued. Although Southern statesmen and generals had built the most powerful slave regime in the Western world, they had excluded the majority of their own peoplewhite women and slavesand thereby sowed the seeds of their demise.
Wartime scarcity of food, labor, and soldiers tested the Confederate vision at every point and created domestic crises to match those found on the battlefields. Women and slaves became critical political actors as they contested government enlistment and tax and welfare policies, and struggled for their freedom. The attempt to repress a majority of its own population backfired on the Confederate States of America as the disenfranchised demanded to be counted and considered in the great struggle over slavery, emancipation, democracy, and nationhood. That Confederate struggle played out in a highly charged international arena.
The political project of the Confederacy was tried by its own people and failed. The government was forced to become accountable to women and slaves, provoking an astounding transformation of the slaveholders’ state. Confederate Reckoning is the startling story of this epic political battle in which women and slaves helped to decide the fate of the Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War.
Stephanie McCurry is the author of Confederate Reckoning, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize, the Merle Curti Prize, the Avery O. Craven Award, and the Willie Lee Rose Prize; and Masters of Small Worlds, winner of the John Hope Franklin Prize and four other awards. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship. McCurry is the R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of History in Honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower at Columbia University. She grew up in Belfast, Ireland, during the Troubles.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Confederate Project
Who Are the People?
The Brothers’ War
Soldiers’ Wives and the Politics of Subsistence
Women Numerous and Armed
“Our Open Enemies”
Epilogue: Confederate Reckoning
What People are Saying About This
Combining the best of the tradition of writing history "from the bottom up,"with prodigious research, and a red thread of analytical brilliance, Confederate Reckoning dramatically reshapes our understanding of the history of slavery and the Civil War. Walter Johnson, author of Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market
Gary W. Gallagher
Analyzing the experience of women, African Americans, and others often placed at the margins of Confederate history, McCurry powerfully challenges readers to get beyond high politics and storied military campaigns to engage a profoundly complicated, and often surprising, story of struggle and change amid seismic events.
Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War
James L. Roark
This is a major book [that] permanently rewrites the history of the Confederacy.
James L. Roark, author of Masters Without Slaves: Southern Planters in the Civil War and Reconstruction