North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction

North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction

North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction

North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction

Synopsis

Although North Carolina was a "home front" state rather than a battlefield state for most of the Civil War, it was heavily involved in the Confederate war effort and experienced many conflicts as a result. North Carolinians were divided over the issue of secession, and changes in race and gender relations brought new controversy. Blacks fought for freedom, women sought greater independence, and their aspirations for change stimulated fierce resistance from more privileged groups. Republicans and Democrats fought over power during Reconstruction and for decades thereafter disagreed over the meaning of the war and Reconstruction.With contributions by well-known historians as well as talented younger scholars, this volume offers new insights into all the key issues of the Civil War era that played out in pronounced ways in the Tar Heel State. In nine essays composed specifically for this volume, contributors address themes such as ambivalent whites, freed blacks, the political establishment, racial hopes and fears, postwar ideology, and North Carolina women. These issues of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras were so powerful that they continue to agitate North Carolinians today.Contributors include David Brown, Judkin Browning, Laura F. Edwards, Paul D. Escott, John C. Inscoe, Chandra Manning, Barton A. Myers, Steven E. Nash, Paul Yandle, and Karin Zipf. The editor is Paul D. Escott.

Excerpt

The era of the Civil War and Reconstruction was a crucial period in U.S. history and in the history of North Carolina. More was at stake than the fate of the Union and the future of slavery, vitally important though these questions were. the fundamental character of southern society—its dominant values as well as its race relations, class relations, and gender relations—also was in flux as impersonal forces and human efforts created enormous pressures for change. in North Carolina, people at all levels of society reacted swiftly to events. Some seized their opportunity to promote long-desired alterations in the social structure, while others fought back, working to block or negate change. These struggles ultimately shaped the state’s politics and its social landscape for decades to come.

Throughout the South, both the war and Reconstruction shook the foundations of the social structure. War’s privations and disruptions brought conflicts to the surface, challenging conventions and empowering groups that had been without influence, and from the start Reconstruction was a battleground over the future of social relations. To the extent that fundamental change became a reality, that fact in turn stimulated efforts at profound resistance. Thus, it is no mystery why this period remains a crucial and fascinating one for historical investigation. the era attracts many of the best minds in the profession and constantly inspires innovative, original scholarship.

In studies of the Civil War and Reconstruction, North Carolina attracts more than its share of attention and is the focus of a great deal of exciting new scholarship. One reason for this phenomenon is the fact that events in the Tar Heel State revealed with special clarity the basic conflicts that dominated both eras. Whether the topic is emancipation and race relations; class conflict or white solidarity; the status, rights, and roles of women; or the struggles in society to mold an ideological consensus, North Carolina’s . . .

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