Pub. Date:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South

Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South

by Michael W. Fitzgerald


Current price is , Original price is $16.95. You
Select a Purchase Option (New Edition)
  • purchase options
    $15.28 $16.95 Save 10% Current price is $15.28, Original price is $16.95. You Save 10%.
  • purchase options


Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South

Since the civil rights era of the 1960s, revisionist historians have been sympathetic to the racial justice motivations of the Radical Republican Reconstruction policies that followed the Civil War. But this emphasis on positive goals and accomplishments has obscured the role of the Republicans in the overthrow of their own program. Rich with insight, Michael W. Fitzgerald's new interpretation of Reconstruction shows how the internal dynamics of this first freedom movement played into the hands of white racist reactionaries in the South. Splendid Failure recounts how postwar financial missteps and other governance problems quickly soured idealistic Northerners on the practical consequences of the Radical Republican plan, and set the stage for the explosion that swept Southern Republicans from power and resulted in Northern acquiescence to the bloody repression of voting rights. The failed strategy offers a chastening example to present-day proponents of racial equality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781566637398
Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date: 06/19/2008
Series: American Ways Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,238,504
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Michael W. Fitzgerald teaches American history at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he lives. He is the author of prizewinning articles on aspects of Reconstruction and in two other books has written on the politics of emancipation and of agricultural change in the post—Civil War period.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 To Civil War: What Slavery Did 3

Resistance, unity, and diversity in the enslaved population

White Southerners and the pro-slavery consensus: the plantation elite and the nonslaveholding majority. Whigs, Democrats, and the struggle over secession

The crisis of up-country society and the emergence of Unionist disaffection

Slavery under the strain of war

2 National Politics: Andrew Johnson and the Lost Compromise 22

The Northern majority moves toward emancipation

Presidential Reconstruction from Lincoln to Johnson, Black Codes, and Conservative rule

Johnson vs. the Republican Congress: the Northern electorate decides

Black suffrage and Military Reconstruction

3 Emancipation and Terror in the Plantation South 47

Rebuilding the slave-style plantation-gang labor and tight control

Politicization of the freedpeople and the transition to decentralized tenant farming

Sharecropping and the emergence of Klan-style terrorism

4 Establishing the Reconstruction Governments 72

Congressional Reconstruction, goals, and mechanics

Institutionalizing change at the constitutional conventions

The interracial Republican coalition

Conservative backlash

Grant's election and the confirmation of the Reconstruction order

5 Railroads, Development, and Reconstructing Society 96

The search for native white support

Whiggish moderates and economic development: railroads as Southern panacea

Issuing bonds and financial complications

The corruption issue, civil rights, and the national context

6 Race, Faction, and Grant 119

The Grant administration and moderate whites

Radical reaction and black empowerment

Thestruggle for leadership and federal patronage, faction, and class in the black community

The Liberal Republican revolt, the Klan issue, and Grant's reelection

7 Gender, Race, and Civil Society in the Reconstruction South 143

Freedwomen, domestic work, and family life

Local government, society, and public education in the Reconstruction South

Taxes, debt, law enforcement, and the legal structure of equality

8 The Politics of Slaughter: Depression and Reaction 165

Consolidation of African-American political influence

The panic of 1873

Resurgence of racist violence: the White Leagues

Collapse of the Northern Republican majority and abandonment of civil rights protection

The Democratic sweep of 1874, North and South, and its consequences

9 Endgame in South Carolina: 1877 and After 194

Governor Chamberlain and the reform initiative

The limits of Republican retrenchment and bipartisan anti-corruption politics

Terrorism, Rutherford B. Hayes, and the end of Reconstruction

Toward Jim Crow and the civil rights movement to come

A Note on Sources 213

Index 219

What People are Saying About This

Thomas Pegram

"Fitzgerald...has pulled off the enormously difficult task of writing a short, clear, analytically distinctive history of reconstruction . . . "

Mark Wahlgren Summers

"Humane, temperate, and succinct...Splendid Failure may be the best short introduction to Southern Reconstruction that we're likely to get."--(Mark Wahlgren Summers, author of The Era of Good Stealings)

Cristopher Waldrep

"...useful introduction to the dramatic and bloody tragedy of Reconstruction . . . "

John C. Rodrigue

"Engagingly written...can be read with profit by students, general readers, and specialists."--(John C. Rodrigue, author of Reconstruction in the Cane Fields)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews