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268civil war history the state's experience with Radical Republican power ended almost as soon as it had begun. Lowe's account of these developments is marked by narrative clarity and interpretive balance. Although critical of the Republicans' exclusionist tactics, he recognizes the difficulties that the party confronted in devising any politically feasible course of action. White racism, he argues, severely limited the Republicans' chances for long-term success, and those deeply engrained antagonisms—coupled with Republican blunders and schisms—gave the Conservatives the edge in the battle for control of the state. This book also leaves no doubt that black Republicans played a highly significant role in their party's accomplishments and, ultimately, in its downfall. Some black leaders favored attempts to broaden the Republicans' popular base, but most did not, and the racial line in Virginia politics became increasingly clear—with disastrous results. In addition, the party's maladroit economic policies antagonized railroad entrepreneur William Mahone, a powerful figure in the southern half of the state, but Lowe contends that Mahone's anti-Radical machinations were less important than grassroots racial animosities in deciding the outcome of the crucial 1869 campaign. This study possesses conspicuous strengths, but several criticisms must be noted as well. Lowe implies that the Republicans committed a major mistake in failing to appeal to old Whigs and mountain whites, but he fails to suggest what issues could, conceivably, have attracted more of those voters to the party. Furthermore, although it is apparent that relations between state-level and national-level Republicans left much to be desired, Lowe neglects to indicate what approach congressional policymakers and, later, the Grant administration should have followed with reference to Virginia. Greater specificity on such matters would have transformed an admirable book into an exemplary one. James Tice Moore Virginia Commonwealth University The Facts of Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of John Hope Franklin. Edited by Eric Anderson and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991. Pp. x, 238. $29.95 cloth; $14.95 paper.) John Hope Franklin's Reconstruction After the War synthesized existing Reconstruction scholarship when the book appeared in 1961. Thirty years later the study remains a one-volume classic of that era in American history that continues to arouse emotions in classrooms and living rooms and to stimulate scholarship among historians. Although Franklin's research and writing have ranged widely across many subjects and time periods, the authors of the essays in The Facts of Reconstruction have chosen to focus their chapters written in his honor on the Reconstruction book reviews269 era and particularly on his Reconstruction After the War. The writers include important scholars of Reconstruction; some were Franklin's students , some were not. Most notable among the several results of the efforts of this collection is the reaffirmation of the importance of appreciating Reconstruction as a process, not as a period neatly bound by the dates 1865-77. These authors emphasize that to understand Reconstruction one must look back into the pre-Civil War era and forward into the post-Reconstruction era. The essays also reflect Franklin's admonition of the necessity to beware of judging Reconstruction participants by standards of our own times. All of the essays are fine ones, and some are especially thought provoking . Some chapters return to questions that Franklin raised and left unanswered in 1961, while other essays focus upon issues not considered in Franklin's book. Four of the essayists, Roberta Sue Alexander, Robert Morris, Howard Rabinowitz, and Loren Schweninger, remind us that although more has been written about blacks than almost any other Reconstruction topic, much remains to be studied. Their essays emphasize how much blacks seized the initiative to shape their own future after the war. Obviously, scholars now must cease portrayals of blacks as hapless victims and focus instead on their active role in both presidential and congressional Reconstruction. Michael Perman, Carl Moneyhon, and Les Benedict analyze the issue of why Reconstruction failed. Their explanations are not new: violence, racism, factionalism, class tensions, fiscal policy, and disenchanted Northern reformers. However, the authors do more than rehash what we already know; they place these issues into a larger historical context and give...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 268-269
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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