Writing North Carolina History

By Jeffrey J. Crow; Larry E. Tise | Go to book overview
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5
The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1876

by Allen W. Trelease

Seventy-five years ago, when J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton began his study of post-Civil War North Carolina, historians of the then-recent Civil War and Reconstruction era had achieved a rare degree of consensus. Not only did they agree with each other on nearly every point of consequence, they had (some of them) the assurance of having scaled the peak of scientific historical objectivity. "The author has sought throughout the work," said Hamilton in the preface to his Reconstruction in North Carolina, "to divest himself of any prejudice in his treatment of a period which has been the cause of so much later bitterness, prejudice, and sectional misunderstanding. He has held no thesis, but has sought only to present the truth, and, in the main, to relate rather than interpret."1

fIf there is occasion for surprise at what has happened to the historiography of this period in North Carolina since the turn of the century, it lies less in the revolution that has occurred in Reconstruction historiography since the 1950s than in the lack of significant change concerning the war period that preceded it. To some degree this constancy is the product of neglect. With a few notable exceptions ( John G. Barrett's comprehensive military account springs first to mind) North Carolina historians of the last generation have not broadly investigated the war period within the state.

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1
J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1914), p. v.

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