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The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multivolume history of the American nation. In the newest volume in the series, The Republic for Which It Stands, acclaimed historian Richard White offers a fresh and integrated interpretation of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age as the seedbed of modern America.
At the end of the Civil War the leaders and citizens of the victorious North envisioned the country's future as a free-labor republic, with a homogenous citizenry, both black and white. The South and West were to be reconstructed in the image of the North. Thirty years later Americans occupied an unimagined world. The unity that the Civil War supposedly secured had proved ephemeral. The country was larger, richer, and more extensive, but also more diverse. Life spans were shorter, and physical well-being had diminished, due to disease and hazardous working conditions. Independent producers had become wage earners. The country was Catholic and Jewish as well as Protestant, and increasingly urban and industrial. The "dangerous" classes of the very rich and poor expanded, and deep differences ethnic, racial, religious, economic, and political divided society. The corruption that gave the Gilded Age its name was pervasive.
These challenges also brought vigorous efforts to secure economic, moral, and cultural reforms. Real change technological, cultural, and political proliferated from below more than emerging from political leadership. Americans, mining their own traditions and borrowing ideas, produced creative possibilities for overcoming the crises that threatened their country.
In a work as dramatic and colorful as the era it covers, White narrates the conflicts and paradoxes of these decades of disorienting change and mounting unrest, out of which emerged a modern nation whose characteristics resonate with the present day.
About the Author
Richard White is Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University. He is the author of numerous prize-winning books, including Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815, and "It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New History of the American West. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Mellon Distinguished Scholar Award, among other awards.
Table of Contents
List of Maps
Part I: Reconstructing the Nation
Prologue: Mourning Lincoln
Chapter One: In the Wake of War
Chapter Two: Radical Reconstruction
Chapter Three: The Greater Reconstruction
Chapter Four: Home
Chapter Five: Gilded Liberals
Chapter Six: Triumph of Wage Labor
Chapter Seven: Panic
Chapter Eight: Beginning a Second Century
Part II: The Quest for Prosperity
Chapter Nine: Years of Violence
Chapter Ten: The Party of Prosperity
Chapter Eleven: People in Motion
Chapter Twelve: Liberal Orthodoxy and Radical Opinions
Chapter Thirteen: Dying for Progress
Chapter Fourteen: The Great Upheaval
Chapter Fifteen: Reform
Chapter Sixteen: Westward the Course of Reform
Chapter Seventeen: The Center Fails to Hold
Chapter Eighteen: The Poetry of a Pound of Steel
Part III: The Crisis Arrives
Chapter Nineteen: The Other Half
Chapter Twenty: Dystopian and Utopian America
Chapter Twenty-one: The Great Depression
Chapter Twenty-two: Things Fall Apart
Chapter Twenty-three: An Era Ends
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Excellent book about an incredibly challenging and transformative time in American history. The book covers 30 years from Lincoln's funeral until the election of William McKinley. The book shows how America changed from a nation of heavily rural independent producers focused on home and trade into a nation of wage laborers in large cities. The book details the promise of post Civil War freed people and how the reaction to new rights grew and increasingly paralyzed many efforts at reconstruction. In the meantime, the rise of monopolies, corporations, manufacturing technologies, railroads, financiers and swindlers drives the economy. The political environment sees the rise of Populists, Mugwumps, Progressives, Anti Monopolists and other movements. Socially, the nation undergoes a massive population growth predominantly through new immigrants who increasingly come from South and Eastern Europe and including Catholics and Jews. The author tells a story full of warts as the promise of the victory in the Civil War changes into violent and administrative reaction in the South and Americans are made to rely more on selling their labor than on being skilled independent producers. The rise of big cities, especially Chicago and the drive West includes the story of the marginalization of American Indians. Nativism begins to stir, initially against the Chinese, but also against Irish and Italian immigrants. And yet, massive strides were made. The shift from fee based governance to professional salaried administrators, development of administrative laws and procedures in government, increased administrative role fro the courts (both for good and bad...) created the infrastructure fro a vastly more healthy society. Over the 30 years from 1865 to 1896 America became a very different nation from what Lincoln envisioned, but it was still a great nation in the throes of change. The author describes this in amazing detail and in a readable way. I am looking forward to the next volume....