How the South Won the Civil War

How the South Won the Civil War : Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America

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In this provocative new work, Heather Cox Richardson argues that while the North won the Civil War, ending slavery, oligarchy, and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," the victory was short-lived. Settlers from the East pushed into the West, where the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and treatment of Native Americans cemented racial hierarchies. The Old South found a new home in the West. Both depended on extractive
industries-cotton in the former and mining, cattle, and oil in the latter-giving rise to a white ruling elite, one that thrived despite the abolition of slavery, the assurances provided by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the economic opportunities afforded by Western expansion.

How the South Won the Civil War traces the story of the American paradox, the competing claims of equality and white domination that were woven into the nation's fabric from the beginning. Who was the archetypal "new American"? At the nation's founding it was Eastern "yeoman farmer," independent and freedom-loving, who had galvanized and symbolized the Revolution. After the Civil War the mantle was taken up by the cowboy, singlehandedly defending his land and his women against
"savages," and protecting his country from its own government. As new states entered the Union in the late nineteenth century, western and southern leaders found common ground. Resources, including massive amounts of federal money, and migrants continued to stream into the West during the New Deal and World War II.
"Movement Conservatives"-starting with Barry Goldwater-claimed to embody cowboy individualism, working with Dixiecrats to renew the ideology of the Confederacy. The "Southern strategy" worked. The essence of the Old South never died and the fight for equality endures.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 156 x 235mm
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 12 b/w images
  • 0190900903
  • 9780190900908
  • 1,133,917

Table of contents


Chapter One: The Triumph of Equality
Chapter Two: The Significance of the West in American History
Chapter Three: Reconstructing America
Chapter Four: The Search for Electoral Votes
Chapter Five: The West and the South Join Forces
Chapter Six: The Post World War II West 1951-1980
Chapter Seven: The Rise of Movement Conservatism

Conclusion: The Nature of America
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Review quote

"A timely and vivid account of America's enduring struggle between democratic ideals and oligarchical demands -- from a stellar historian. The themes are broad and the implications mighty, but this isn't history from on high. Richardson uses a human lens to tell her tale, revealing the passions and power-plays that have sustained this battle for dominance. The end result is something rare and invaluable: a skilled work of history, deeply grounded in the past, that speaks loudly, clearly, and crucially to the present." -- Joanne Freeman, Yale University, author of The Field Of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

"A thought-provoking study of the centuries-spanning battle between oligarchy and equality in America. " -- Kirkus

"Though Richardson underemphasizes the prevalence of racism, sexism, and inequality in other parts of the country during and following the Civil War, she marshals a wealth of evidence to support the book's provocative title. Conservatives will cry foul, but liberal readers will be persuaded by this lucid jeremiad." -- Publishers Weekly

"What the great books do is retell history in a way that creates a deepened and clarified connection between what was and what is. The brilliant historian Heather Cox Richardson has produced magic with this stunning work, which fuses the historian's craft to the storyteller's art. I love this book. For anyone seeking to understand how we got here, and where we're likely bound, this is a must-read." -- Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Price of Loyalty and A Hope in the Unseen

"Good revisionist history jars you, forces you to look at the past in a new way, and thereby transforms your view of the present. Heather Cox Richardson is a master of the genre, to the benefit of us all. Even those who take issue with her will be forced by this powerful book to come to terms with aspects of our past that we often just sweep under the rug of memory. Important and revelatory." -- E.J. Dionne JR., author of Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country

"In a tour de force, Richardson exposes the philosophical connective tissue that runs from John C. Calhoun, to Barry Goldwater, to Donald Trump. It's not party, it's a complex ideology that has swaddled white supremacy and its political, legal, economic, and physical violence in the language of freedom and rugged individualism, and, in doing so, repeatedly slashed a series of self-inflicted wounds on American democracy." -- Carol Anderson, Emory University, author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide and One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy
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About Heather Cox Richardson

Heather Cox Richardson is Professor of History at Boston College. Her previous works include West from Appomattox and To Make Men Free.
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