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282CIVIL WAR HISTORY Nor does he offer as illuminating an analysis ofpostwar economic change as distinguishes Michael Wayne's study of Natchez. Burton has made an exemplary contribution to the study ofnineteenthcentury Southern social history. He has provided unique historical and empirical perspective about families, especially black families. But for him as for many other social historians, "total history" remains elusive. His colleagues in the historical profession are entitled to hope that Burton's subsequent Edgefield books address the issues skirted in this one. Historical sociology is no substitute for an integrated historical narrative. Daniel W Crofts Trenton State College When the War Was Over: The Failure ofSelf-Reconstruction in the South, 1865-1867. By Dan T. Carter. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. Pp. xvi, 285. $27.50 cloth; $12.95 paper.) Winner of the Jules F. Landry award, this is a well-done and thoroughly researched volume that takes issue with some recent trends in Reconstruction scholarship. It is Dan Carter's central thesis that those leaders who dominated the South during Presidential Reconstruction have been too casually dismissed as reactionary and unrealistic. "In important ways," he insists, "they represented the most constructive and creative response white southerners were able to make to their defeat and to the revolution of emancipation" (p. 5). Admittedly they failed and their views on race were abysmally out oftune with the world offree labor, but beset by social disorder , internal reaction, and bewildering Northern demands, they also faced a difficult, ifnot impossible, task. Carter believes that they deserve a fuller measure ofempathy and understanding. In Carter's view, consistent Southern Unionists were too small a minority ever to have offered a meaningful political base for Reconstruction . Under Andrew Johnson's plan of Reconstruction, such a base was instead provided by those former Confederates who enjoyed the partial absolution ofhaving once opposed secession. In the main they were former Whigs, conservative and cautious men, who were uncommonly realistic in attitude and sympathetic to economic progress and modernization. While they certainly represented Southern tradition and deferred to planter power, they also accepted emancipation, recognized the wisdom of conciliating the North, and supported economic reform, including grandiose railroad and other projects later so exclusively associated with Radical Republicanism. On the other hand, these leaders were not prepared to repudiate their beliefs and past behavior, nor to alienate their political supporters. Furthermore, "they were as short-sighted as all their fellow southerners on that most critical issue ofall: the future ofthe freed men and women in their midst" (p. 146). It was on the question oflegal equality for blacks that a "stubborn unwillingness to yield, when placed beside the BOOK REVIEWS283 other events of 1865," prodded Northerners toward the radical Reconstruction program of 1867 (p. 231). Carter pursues this theme to the further conclusion that the préexistant racist conviction of the white South as a whole was primarily responsible for the failure of self-reconstruction in the South. This is not a new thesis, but it remains a debatable one. While racism was certainly an overwhelming ideological heritage, it was also an integral part of a new struggle for power, profit, and place in the postwar South. In this reviewer's opinion, that integral relationship is not adequately considered. Carter does not explore the elitist nature of politics, or the function of racist propaganda, nor does he thoroughly analyze that familiar Southern tie between racism and a cheap, black labor supply. Carter's major interpretive concern appears to be the conflict between his own rejection of the principles of Southern white leaders and his struggle to understand their limitations and appreciate the difficulties diey faced. He becomes so immersed in die details ofdiis paradox diat he slides by a variety of intriguing interpretive questions that are raised. For example , after both condemning the Black Codes as racist and crediting them with being a revolutionary improvement over antebellum law, he faults the North for neglecting that latter fact. He does not, however, pursue the related implications. The failure to do so on this and other matters (including the impact of Andrew Johnson's policies) leaves his overall analysis incomplete. This same difficulty characterizes Carter's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 282-283
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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