Romance and Realism in Southern Politics

By T. Harry Williams | Go to book overview

LECTURE TWO
The Politics of Reconstruction

WITHOUT A DOUBT THE RECONSTRUCTION ERA IS THE LEAST understood period in our history. This is true for a variety of reasons, and one of the most important of these is that the historical writing about it does not conduce to understanding. We know a great deal about what happened, but there is little consensus as to what the events mean. Taken as a whole, the literature is marked by sentiment and sectionalism, by pride and prejudice, by anger and anguish. No other subject, with the possible exception of the causes of the Civil War, has excited so much controversy and disagreement among scholars. In writing about Reconstruction, historians have been influenced, far beyond their wont in other fields, by prevailing trends in the culture of their own time. Back in the 1920's and 1930's, when the disillusionment following World War I was at its height, Reconstruction was depicted as something pretty horrible--as the stupid aftermath of a stupid resort to war. Andrew Johnson was a hero, and the South was a section crucified on a cross of revenge. Now in our day, when war is viewed as perhaps

-17-

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Romance and Realism in Southern Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Lecture One - The Distinctive South 1
  • Lecture Two - The Politics of Reconstruction 17
  • Lecture Three - The Politics of Populism And Progressivism 44
  • Lecture Four - The Politics of the Longs 65
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