The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies

The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies

The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies

The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies

Synopsis

In The Long Shadow of the Civil War, Victoria Bynum relates uncommon narratives about common Southern folks who fought not with the Confederacy, but against it. Focusing on regions in three Southern states--North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas--Bynum introduces Unionist supporters, guerrilla soldiers, defiant women, socialists, populists, free blacks, and large interracial kin groups that belie stereotypes of the South and of Southerners as uniformly supportive of the Confederate cause.

Examining regions within the South where the inner civil wars of deadly physical conflict and intense political debate continued well into the era of Reconstruction and beyond, Bynum explores three central questions. How prevalent was support for the Union among ordinary Southerners during the Civil War? How did Southern Unionists and freedpeople experience both the Union's victory and the emancipation of slaves during and after Reconstruction? And what were the legacies of the Civil War--and Reconstruction--for relations among classes and races and between the sexes, both then and now?

Centered on the concepts of place, family, and community, Bynum's insightful and carefully documented work effectively counters the idea of a unified South caught in the grip of the Lost Cause.

Excerpt

The Long Shadow of the Civil War takes us inside the worlds of men and women whose deepest commitments were to family, community, and the principles of government that they believed best served both. in this book, you’ll meet Southerners like Newt Knight, Warren Collins, and Anna Knight, who were at once profoundly traditional in their beliefs and unorthodox in their actions. Whether they opposed the Confederacy in the Civil War, rejected conventional politics and religion after the war, or refused to accept race-based rights of citizenship, these Southerners fiercely defended their choices. For their efforts, they were frequently branded as renegades, outlaws, or even deviants.

There are few more vivid images in popular culture than those purporting to portray “typical” Southerners. Television, movies, novels, and even mainstream newscasts have long presented us with white Southerners who take unusual pride in ancestry, revere military traditions, and glory in the causes of both the American Revolution and the Civil War. Popular images of African American Southerners commonly center on slavery, segregation, and the civil rights movement. Less common are images of white Southerners who rejected the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy or of the deep ties of kinship that linked whites, blacks, and Native Americans in a world bounded by unequal relations of power.

Regardless of whether one views the South sympathetically or critically, white Southerners are almost invariably assumed to have supported the Confederate cause in the Civil War. in popular memory, the war became a chief symbol of white Southern cultural identity. the “proof” for such . . .

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