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The South As It Is

1865-1866

Written by John Richard Dennett and edited with an introduction by Caroline E. J

Publication Year: 2010

This classic report originally appeared as a series of articles in the Nation between July 8, 1865, and April 11, 1866. Dennett traveled in seven states—Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi—at the very beginning of Reconstruction. His remarkably prophetic account of the recently defeated South is a major source for the history of this transition.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Cover Art

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Introduction

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pp. vii- xiii

In late June 1865, twenty-six-year-old John Richard Dennett, a recent Harvard Law School graduate and inspiring journalist, stepped aboard a Virginia-bound steamer in the New York harbor. This would not be his first trip south. A year earlier he had returned from two exhausting years along the South Carolina coast where he had helped freed men ...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-10

It was a very pleasant change from the roar and heat of a June day in New York City to the cool breeze and the plash of the waves that greeted us sailing down the harbor on our way to Richmond. The voyage from wharf to wharf occupied three days, for a day was...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 11-22

SITTING in the piazza of the hotel today were two Virginian ladies. The younger, whose home lay on the western side of the Blue Ridge, was making her first visit to Richmond since the war ended. She...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 23-33

SINCE Richmond was evacuated, more than half of its inhabitants have been compelled to seek a part or all of their sustenance at the hands of charity. And this relief is received not only by those classes...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 34-46

THE Southside Railroad Company promises in its advertisements to take passengers through from Richmond to Lynchburg, a distance of about one hundred and thirty miles, in twenty-four hours. Packet-boats ply between the two cities, but that mode of travelling...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 46-57

SIX miles below Lynchburg, a gray stone dam that crowns a hill near the river is pointed out to the traveller as the place where, in the summer of 1864, Hunter's men first showed themselves. There an advance party of his troops made an unsuccessful attempt to...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 58-66

DURING the past week I have been making short journeys into the country round about Lynchburg, travelling by the canal or on horseback, and visiting parts of the counties of Appomattox, Campbell, Amherst, Bedford...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 67-76

SINCE Richmond was evacuated, more than half of its inhabitants have been compelled to seek a part or all of their sustenance at the hands of charity. And this relief is received not only by those classes of the population that always were poor, but, in many instances,...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 77-86

THE little village of Appomattox Court-House, distant from Lynchburg about twenty-five miles, is situated on low ground at the source of the Appomattox River, and in a district devoted exclusively to farming. It is, therefore, small even among Virginian towns, containing...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 87-98

LATE this forenoon I left Lynchburg, and set out on a horseback journey into North Carolina. The weather has been bright and hot all day, and the road hilly and dusty, so that I have ridden slowly, and travelled no more than twenty-one miles. In that distance I the country, especially in the vicinity of the city, is pretty thickly ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 99-111

DANVILLE is built upon the crown and northern slope of some steep hills which lie along the south bank of the Dan River. It contains rather less than four thousand inhabitants, of all colors, but, on account of its conspicuous site, produces the impression of a larger...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 112-126

I LEFT Greensboro' this morning early, and without regret, for my stay there had been far from comfortable. It is a small, hilly town with only twenty-seven hundred inhabitants; but boasts a hotel styled....

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Chapter 12

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pp. 127-134

JUST before leaving Salisbury I attended a political meeting, at which two of the aspirants to a seat in the State Convention ad dressed their fellow-citizens. One had been a lieutenant-colonel in Unionist, and the Salisbury Union Banner, which supports his antagonist, even styles him "the radical candidate." His radicalism, ...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 135-146

HAVING determined to ride across from Charlotte to Raleigh by the country roads, it became necessary to retrace my steps for twenty miles, and pass again through Concord. An hour before I reached the village it was dark, and most of the houses were closed;...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 147-154

I REACHED this city on the evening of the 27th of September, at an hour somewhat later than I had expected, having been detained in the morning at Pittsboro by an incident that I have learned to changed, but their endeavors, whether honest or otherwise, were not successful, and after being kept from the road for more than ...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 155-165

THE North Carolina State Convention met at Raleigh, in the hall of the House of Commons, on the morning of Monday, the second of October, and, with praiseworthy dispatch, in the course of six days performed all the work which they considered of paramount importance....

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Chapter 16

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pp. 166-177

ABOUT fifty miles north of this city I came upon the upper edge of the sandy pine country, and left oak timber and red clay roads beautiful, and a soft wind blowing from the south suggested spring tints. But ten miles of the road were hardly passed before the few morning clouds began to spread over the whole sky, the first drops ...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 178-186

LUMBERTON stands on the left bank of the Lumber River, at a distance of thirty-three miles from Fayetteville. The village is small, with only four or five hundred inhabitants and without pretensions to beauty, for it lies scattered over a sandy level and on all sides is...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 187-197

THE traveller from North Carolina passes but a little distance into this State before he finds the outward indications of a widely different social organization. The scenery in its general aspect is the same. There, as well as here, for a hundred miles from the coast, the surface is very flat and traversed by many sluggish streams;...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 198-205

HAVING determined to ride across from Charlotte to Raleigh by the country roads, it became necessary to retrace my steps for twenty miles, and pass again through Concord. An hour before I reached the village it was dark, and most of the houses were closed; but...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 206-215

WHILE staying on the plantation mentioned in my last letter, I visited a school kept by two young ladies resident there, and attended by about a hundred children from the immediate neighborhood. A portable school-house sent out from Philadelphia last winter was...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 216-224

HAVING determined to ride across from Charlotte to Raleigh by the country roads, it became necessary to retrace my steps for twenty miles, and pass again through Concord. An hour before I reached the village it was dark, and most of the houses were closed; but...

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Chapter 22

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pp. 225-230

THE hardships of railway travelling over the swamps and uplands of South Carolina have been often set forth of late, and have not been exaggerated. Rails worn out, shaky, creaking trestleworks, the slow, thumping motion...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 231-242

THE town of Newberry, north-west of Columbia and forty-five miles distant, I have recently visited, rather because it is comparatively easy of access than for any other reason. The journey may be made by way of Hope Station in about twenty-five hours, and in returning,...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 243-252

GENERAL ELY, the chief officer of the Freedmen's Bureau in Northern South Carolina, is accustomed to make frequent short excursions into the various districts of which he has charge, for the purpose of conferring with the planters and addressing the freedmen. Last...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 253-263

THE first stage of the journey from Columbia towards Augusta is seven miles long, occupies three hours and more, and is made in the dark. We were called from bed at three o'clock in the morning, several coaches...

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Chapter 26

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pp. 264-271

AUGUSTA, the second city in Georgia, and said to be advancing rapidly towards the first rank, is a well-built town, well situated on the Savannah River. My stay there was only long enough for a walk through the principal streets, which are regularly laid out, level, and....

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Chapter 27

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pp. 272-283

WHILE staying in Atlanta I heard a strange story, which, perhaps, should not be related in a correspondence professing to give only undoubted facts, for in repeating it I give currency to a report which, indeed, seemed to me probable, but which I am not in a position to...

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Chapter 28

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pp. 284-293

IT was four o'clock of a very dark morning when an omnibus came for me at my boarding-house in Columbus, and it was two hours later, after a slow circuitous drive about the city from one house to...

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Chapter 29

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pp. 294-304

ON the journey from Montgomery to Mobile I formed a slight acquaintance with two men who seemed to me, as I heard them talking, very fair specimens of two large classes of people that I not infrequently meet with in the South, and, therefore, I describe them....

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Chapter 30

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pp. 305-313

AT Mobile I took passage by steamboat for New Orleans, gladly bidding good-bye to that disagreeable city, to the mud-banks of its harbor, with the flocks of carrion crows-turkey buzzards-always streaming and hovering over them, to the narrow and dirty streets, infested as...

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Chapter 31

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pp. 314-318

ONE day this week I made a visit to the house once owned by Mr. Pierre Soule, and now in the hands of the Government. For nearly a year it has been used as an asylum for colored orphans. A young lady from Boston, Mrs. De Mortie, has been its manager from the...

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Chapter 32

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pp. 319-330

AT Mobile I took passage by steamboat for New Orleans, gladly bidding good-bye to that disagreeable city, to the mud-banks of its harbor, with the flocks of carrion crows-turkey buzzards-always streaming and hovering over them, to the narrow and dirty streets, infested...

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Chapter 33

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pp. 331-345

I STAYED in Donaldsonville three days, weather-bound, and, though it was reasonable to expect very bad walking, I escaped from that dirty, squalid little town as soon as blue sky showed itself, late on Saturday afternoon...

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Chapter 34

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pp. 346-356

I SET out from Baton Rouge for Vicksburg and the North on the steamboat Columbian. At the place where I went aboard, as at most other points, she followed the fashion of Mississippi steamboats, and made the landing with more haste than ceremony. It was pleasant...

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Chapter 35

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pp. 357-362

IN coming home from my long journey in the South, I travelled by rail through Connecticut, and it happened that for several hours my seat was shared with a merchant from Rhode Island. I expressed to him my pleasure at sight of a country so different from that with...

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Chapter 36

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pp. 363-364

I WAS not able, in the space afforded my last letter, to complete the resume of my observations in the South. I undertook then to describe the feelings of the white population there; today I wish to The present condition of the Negroes in the States which I have been visiting, if it be compared with their condition during the ...

Index

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pp. 365- 381


E-ISBN-13: 9780817384852
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356309

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877).
  • Southern States -- Description and travel.
  • Dennett, John Richard, 1838-1874 -- Travel -- Southern States.
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