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While the rest of the country enjoyed a Gilded Age, the Deep South descended into severe poverty, a devastating consequence of Civil War-era legislation

 

Southern Reconstruction
Philip Leigh

$28.00 Hardback

  • 288 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • 15 b/w illus.
  • American History
  • World Rights

About this Book

The Reconstruction Era—the years immediately following the Civil War when Congress directed the reintegration of the former Confederate states into the Union—remains, as Eric Foner suggested, “America’s unfinished revolution.” But Reconstruction is more than a story of racial injustice; it has left a complex legacy involving both whites and blacks, Southerners and Northerners, that is reflected today by the fact that the overwhelming number of states with the highest rates of poverty were part of the former Confederacy. In Southern Reconstruction, Philip Leigh examines the legislation enacted during and immediately after the Civil War, and the administrations of presidents Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, to broaden our understanding of Reconstruction.

With the exception of the Emancipation Proclamation, most histories of Reconstruction fail to explain adequately how other Civil War polices affected the South after the Civil War. Among them were the Confiscation Acts (1861), Morrill Tariff (1861), Pacific Railroad Acts (1862–1866), Homestead Act (1862), Legal Tender Act (1862), National Banking Acts (1863, 1864), and Veterans Pensions Acts (1862–1865). These laws transformed America’s banking system, built a railroad web, and inflated government spending with vote-getting pensions for veterans—a sum that reached a staggering 40 percent of the federal budget in 1893. Civil War era legislation also created a dubious alliance between banks and government, sparked corruption, trapped Southern farmers—both black and white—in endless annual peonage cycles, and failed to provide lands for freedmen. While Reconstruction was intended to return the South to the Union, it could not be effective with the crippling wartime legislation and ensuing federal policies that disfranchised many whites, fostered racial animosity, abetted Southern poverty, and lined the pockets of wealthy or politically well-connected business leaders.

“An admirable work that is both balanced and comprehensive. Mr. Leigh has given us a refreshing corrective in the history of the Cultural Revolution that swept the United States and the South in the latter half of the nineteenth century.”—H. V. Traywick, Jr., author of Empire of the Owls

Philip Leigh’s Southern Reconstruction cuts against the grain of mainstream studies of his topic. Where they assume that the racial aspect virtually exhausts the subject and that the story ends in 1877, Leigh shows us that there is much more to the story and that its harshly negative effects are still felt today. Although written for a popular audience, this book will be a revelation to scholars as well.”—Kevin R. C. Gutzman, Western Connecticut State University, author of Thomas Jefferson—Revolutionary: A Radical’s Struggle to Remake America

Southern Reconstruction is effective counterpoint to academia’s proclivity to present Reconstruction in strictly racial terms. Philip Leigh offers welcome balance to the debate.”—Walter Brian Cisco author of War Crimes Against Southern Civilians

Philip Leigh’s prolific output has not dulled his ability to present cogent arguments for his original viewpoints. You may not always agree with his conclusions but your thinking will be challenged and you will learn.”—Laurie Woodruff, Executive Director and Editor, Essential Civil War Curriculum, Virginia Tech University

Philip Leigh is the author of a number of books, including Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies and Trading with the Enemy: The Covert Economy During the American Civil War. From 2012 to 2015 he was a regular contributor to the New York Times Disunion Series, which commemorated the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. He has an engineering degree from the Florida Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

 

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