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When the War Was Over

The Failure of Self-Reconstruction in the South, 1865–1867

Dan T. Carter

Publication Year: 1985

In the months after Appomattox, the South was plunged into a chaos that surpassed even the disorder of the last hard months of the war itself. Peace brought, if anything, an increased level of violence to the region as local authorities of the former Confederacy were stripped of their power and the returning foot soldiers of the defeated army, hungry and without hope, raided the already impoverished countryside for food and clothing. In the wake of the devastation that followed surrender, even some of the most virulent Yankee-haters found themselves relieved as the Union army began to bring a small level of order to the lawless southern terrain. Dan T. Carter’s When the War Was Over is a social and political history of the two years following the surrender of the Confederacy —the co-called period of Presidential Reconstruction when the South, under the watchful gaze of Congress and the Union army, attempted to rebuild its shattered society and economic structure. Working primarily from rich manuscript sources, Carter draws a vivid portrait of the political leaders who emerged after the war, a diverse group of men—former loyalists as well as a few mildly repentant fire-eaters—who in some cases genuinely sought to find a place in southern society for the newly emancipated slaves, but who in many other cases merely sought to redesign the boundaries of black servitude. Carter finds that as a group the politicians who emerged in the postwar South failed critically in the test of their leadership. Not only were they unable to construct a realistic program for the region’s recovery—a failure rooted in their stubborn refusal to accept the full consequences of emancipation—but their actions also served to exacerbate rather than allay the fears and apprehensions of the victorious North. Even so, Carter reveals, these leaders were not the monsters that many scholars have suggested they were, and it is misleading to dismiss them as racists and political incompetents. In important ways, they represented the most constructive, creative, and imaginative response that the white South, overwhelmed with defeat and social chaos, had to offer in 1865 and 1866. Out of their efforts would come the New South movement and, with it, the final downfall of the plantation system and the beginnings of social justice for the freed slaves.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

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p. xi-xi

Identifying all those who helped me in the research and writing of this book is rather like drawing up an invitation list to a southern wedding. . . .


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-5

N THE months after Appomattox, white southerners confronted hundreds of unsettling questions about their future. This book is the story . . .

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Chapter I: Social Disorder and Violence in the Land of the Vanquished

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pp. 6-23

ON MARCH 2, 1865, Confederate officers mustered the eleven hundred men of the Galveston, Texas, garrison on an open field near . . .

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Chapter II: Self-Reconstruction Begins: The Failure of Strait-Sect Unionism

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pp. 24-60

IN THE weeks after Abraham Lincoln's assassination, white southerners waited for Andrew Johnson's first substantive policy . . .

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Chapter III: Southern Realism and Southern Honor: The Limits of Self-Reconstruction

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pp. 61-95

IT WAS a subdued group of Mississippians who gathered in Jackson in mid-August of 1865 as delegates to their state's postwar constitutional . . .

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Chapter IV: Uncertain Prophets in the Land of the Vanquished

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pp. 96-146

AS THE postwar legislators traveled to their state capitals in the early fall of 1865, their journeys were a sobering reminder of the . . .

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Chapter V: The Proslavery Argument in a World Without Slavery

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pp. 147-175

SOUTHERN whites were obsessed with race in the months after Appomattox. "Everybody talks about the negro at all hours of the day, . . .

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Chapter VI: Self-Reconstruction: The Final Act

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pp. 176-231

WHITE conservatives were fully aware of the pitfalls involved in the enactment of any legislation that affected the region's . . .

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Chapter VII: Political Alternatives in the Land of Fog and Confusion

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pp. 232-275

BY January of 1866, Republican notions of southern perfidy and political unreliability were firmly established, and moderates within . . .


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pp. 277-285

E-ISBN-13: 9780807151150
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807112045

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 1985