Reconstruction: A Concise History by Allen C. Guelzo published by Oxford University Press (2018)

wausaubob

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Was Christianity going to be set up as a Constitutional religion? How about immigration? There was not a lot immigration between 1776 and 1820. But after 1820 immigration accelerated. Was that going to continue, or were nativist tendencies going to reassert themselves?
Subscription schools v public schools? Public schools might be seen as a subsidy to families and a socialist subsidy to workers and poor farmers. Were schools and state colleges going to be a political issue? Or was education going to be something for rich people only?
How about imperialism? What about slavery in Cuba which was very persistent, compared to slavery in Brazil?
 

Bee

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Was Christianity going to be set up as a Constitutional religion? How about immigration? There was not a lot immigration between 1776 and 1820. But after 1820 immigration accelerated. Was that going to continue, or were nativist tendencies going to reassert themselves?
Subscription schools v public schools? Public schools might be seen as a subsidy to families and a socialist subsidy to workers and poor farmers. Were schools and state colleges going to be a political issue? Or was education going to be something for rich people only?
How about imperialism? What about slavery in Cuba which was very persistent, compared to slavery in Brazil?

?? What does this have to do with Guelzo's book??
 

wausaubob

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?? What does this have to do with Guelzo's book??
Is the entire concept of Reconstruction misguided? Didn't the rest of the nation turn to railroad, currency and education as the main issues? So maybe the whole debate is about political issues that were not that important compared to the big issues of jobs, railroads, schools and public health?
 

wausaubob

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Politics is not as important as it seems. The knuckle coupler, air breaks on railroad cars, Pullman's sleepers and the black stewards, may have been more important.
 

Bee

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Is the entire concept of Reconstruction misguided? Didn't the rest of the nation turn to railroad, currency and education as the main issues? So maybe the whole debate is about political issues that were not that important compared to the big issues of jobs, railroads, schools and public health?

What does this have to do with Guelzo's book?
 

cash

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Just because someone does good research doesn't make them immune to bad politics.

That's not an answer. Guelzo isn't an idiot. He understands the change in party ideologies.


No, and this review did nothing to make me want to read it.

So you're criticizing a book based not on reading it but on a review someone else wrote.


My criticism was the use of Marxism interpretate history in general and Reconstruction in particular. Guelzo argues Marxist interpretation is incorrect doesn't really fit here, but by implication if the situation was a little different it could apply. I'm arguing Marxist interpretation is always a mistake. In the case of Reconstruction it makes a difficult topic even more difficult to understand rather than less.

Too late. Besides, I don't think you understand the Marxist interpretation. I think you're hung up on "Marxist."
 

Pat Young

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Is the entire concept of Reconstruction misguided? Didn't the rest of the nation turn to railroad, currency and education as the main issues? So maybe the whole debate is about political issues that were not that important compared to the big issues of jobs, railroads, schools and public health?
The rest of the country had not recently been engaged in warfare against the central government.
 

wausaubob

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I will get the book. I do agree with Alan Guelzo. Both the 19th century Republicans and the African/Americans won in the end.
 

Bee

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Is the entire concept of Reconstruction misguided? Didn't the rest of the nation turn to railroad, currency and education as the main issues? So maybe the whole debate is about political issues that were not that important compared to the big issues of jobs, railroads, schools and public health?

Get back to me after you read the book, because in relation to the content of the book, these posts make zero sense.(I am almost finished with the book, myself)
 

Joshism

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I don't think you understand the Marxist interpretation. I think you're hung up on "Marxist."

In a general sense, the Marxist interpretation of everything boils down to a struggle between Labor and Capital.

In a more specific and academic sense, there is a bunch of tedious political theory.
 

cash

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In a general sense, the Marxist interpretation of everything boils down to a struggle between Labor and Capital.

In a more specific and academic sense, there is a bunch of tedious political theory.

Class struggle and race struggle.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Politics is not as important as it seems. The knuckle coupler, air breaks on railroad cars, Pullman's sleepers and the black stewards, may have been more important.

I don't see how you can say that. Those things may have been important to the North but the South was interested in getting things back to a pre-war status with land and Blacks.

I'm reading from the book and I never knew much about Johnson as President until I started getting into the different CW books, but this book really puts a spotlight on him. I knew he was not good for Reconstruction but I didn't know how.

Maybe Lincoln didn't have any other choices - he was trying to reach a hand out to Southerners but this was the wrong man. And of course, Lincoln didn't plan on dying in office.

What I'm struck with, and I'm up to Chapter 4 is how Reconstruction and the failures of Johnson and I can't even quite call them failures in the passive sense, but he actively tried to make them fail, has reverberated throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.

Frederick Douglas warned that if Johnson was foolish enough to give a free pass that the South would revert to pre-war status and it did.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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As a Supervisor of the Checklist, I'm also fascinated to learn that Reconstruction was the start of voter registration lists by order of the military commanders for the districts they controlled as they started up elections. Another touch of Reconstruction into the present.
 

Bee

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I'm having trouble tying in the debt crisis to the book and Reconstruction in general.

This is the problem when folks want to join a discussion about a book that they have not read: you have to practically derail the thread, because you cannot discuss the topic at hand - the book. Guelzo is very clear that whilst the Republican Party was fracturing, the Democrats were gaing strength. Since the power base had switched from Presidential Reconstruction to Congressional Reconstruction, one would be hard pressed to convince me that "politics was not as important as it seemed".

I have no patience for these continued flights of fancy that are both incongruous with the book content, and known facts.
 

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To me, one of the main economic antebellum holdovers was the lack of a free-labor economy in the South. Guelzo brings that up in a couple of places, that "Southern whites had been taught to believe that labor was beneath the dignity of a gentlemen." He alludes to it again in a couple of other places in the book. And as early as 1858, Frederick Law Olmstead specifically mentions the problem in his two books, "The Cotton Kingdom" and the other is something like "Wandering Through the Cotton Kingdom."

So at some point before 1860, astute observers, sensing that sooner or later a showdown over slavery was coming, could see that a huge problem would be with getting middle-class and above white men to labor and gladly labor as a prime difficulty.

The major problem is there hadn't been, almost since the founding of the Southern states, and major free-labor economics happening, and then the rise of the planter class and all the cultural baggage that went with it.

Guelzo makes a statement that Reconstruction, hampered by Johnson's biased military appointments, was also pushed too fast and that by 1870 the country was tired of Reconstruction. Well, the country had spent the last of the 1850s building rapidly to war, then war, then the aftermath. Any thoughts?

How long do you think Reconstruction should have lasted? I'm going to throw out at least 10 years but in a perfect world, more like 20 to let a generation of freedmen really get good political underpinnings with education, newspapers, etc., have the military continue with the elections and get a generation of those cycled through and get the old guard buried.
 

Joshism

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Guelzo makes a statement that Reconstruction, hampered by Johnson's biased military appointments, was also pushed too fast and that by 1870 the country was tired of Reconstruction. Well, the country had spent the last of the 1850s building rapidly to war, then war, then the aftermath. Any thoughts?

I think the years since Reconstruction have shown the 1860s-1870s were not an aberration. Americans don't have the stomach for long wars or long, difficult occupations.

How long do you think Reconstruction should have lasted?

As long as necessary. For SC that might have meant occupation for a generation. For other states probably not past the 1870s if they had behaved.
 

wausaubob

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Good book, @Pat Young. I will maintain what I have written. While time ran backwards in some southern states, the Republicans realized the Federalist/Whig program. The door remained open, at least for white, Europeans. And there was a deliberate western strategy, which eliminated any possibility of gradual adjust for the indigenous people.
Its not an accident that the gold premium on the national debt was maintained. The currency was not inflated, and the national banks became big supporters of corporate growth.
 

wausaubob

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The issues of Reconstruction are not the issues we are hung about.
Their issues were managing the national debt, maintaining a national currency, private job creation, creating a national transportation system, and governing the flood of European immigrants.
The south may have been hung up on a racial caste system, but the rest of the country by passed that problem and got ready for the 20th century.
There is a little bit of this in Guelzo's book, but it is not the story he wants to tell.
 

Joshism

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The issues of Reconstruction are not the issues we are hung about.
Their issues were managing the national debt, maintaining a national currency, private job creation, creating a national transportation system, and governing the flood of European immigrants.
The south may have been hung up on a racial caste system, but the rest of the country by passed that problem and got ready for the 20th century.
There is a little bit of this in Guelzo's book, but it is not the story he wants to tell.

Would it be correct to summarize your many words over many posts on this subject into the following two points?

1. Reconstruction failed because Reconstruction only took place in the South. The rest of the country was only half-hearted about Reconstruction because they had mostly moved on to more pressing issues that effected the whole country, rather than just one part of it.

2. Reconstruction isn't important because it was a regional issue, not a national one.
 
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