The Statesmanship and Reconstruction
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The Statesmanship and Reconstruction : Moderate versus Radical Republicans on Restoring the Union After the Civil War

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Besides massive race prejudice and the perceived vindictiveness of the radical Republicans, another factor that contributed strongly to the derailment of reconstruction after the Civil War was the conflicting decisions taken by the political leaders. Lincoln warned against differences between the friends of freedom, and to overcome these, took charge of the reconstruction of Louisiana and showed how it should be done by pitting benefits of enlightened free government against the prejudices of the populace. Unfortunately, his example was lost on his successor, Andrew Johnson, whose encouragement of Southern resistance to the North's terms aggravated factionalism within the Republican party. The moderates dominated in the drafting of the Fourteenth Amendment, where they incorporated the statesmanlike principle of a benefit, self-government in exchange for Southerners protecting the rights of all their citizens, black and white. However, this statesmanlike bargain was practically abandoned in Congress's response to the Southern states' rejection of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Congressional Reconstructions Act. The fears of the moderates that the new state governments would not protect rights led them to propose universal suffrage, while the fears of the radicals that disloyal men would rule led them to provide for the disfranchisement of many ex-rebels and to hold any governments established, provisional only, subject to congressional change at will. As result the incentive for native white Southerners to participate in the new state governments in exchange for rights protection was drastically weakened. The consequences of this legislative "straight jacket" made it extremely difficult for Republicans in the defeated states to establish permanent political footholds. Some tried to hold onto power without attempting to cultivate native white support and lost their states for the Republicans. Three other leaders' efforts to strike a balance between radicals and Democrats fell flat. Imprudent decisions of the Grant Administration shattered the attempts of three more states to establish a common ground with moderate Democrats. On the positive side, there was a leader in Virginia who figured out the kind of political arrangement necessary for Republicans to survive, and in Florida, a moderate Republican Governor, Ossian Bingley Hart, exercised real statesmanship to lead the most successful of all reconstruction governments. Statesmanship in reconstruction could have spared the South some severe hardships. Despite the vast change in public opinion on race relations over the last nearly 150 years, there are still lessons drawn from this study that can be applied to present day Civil Rights Policy.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 160.02 x 231.14 x 33.02mm | 657.71g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 24 black & white halftones
  • 0739185071
  • 9780739185070

Review quote

Lyon's ... great contribution is demonstrating that Reconstruction was not one thing, but quite different experiences in different states...[The book] show[s] very persuasively that Reconstruction was not 'the most soul-sickening spectacle' of American history...We are left to polnder the possibility Lyons ... raises: how different would it have been had Lincoln ... vied for common ground on Reconstruction, marginalizing the radicals on both sides? Claremont Review of Books Philip Lyons has made an outstanding contribution to the study of Reconstruction and to an understanding of the practical meaning of statesmanship by bringing these two concerns together in an unprecedented manner. -- Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame In Statesmanship and Reconstruction: Moderate versus Radical Republicans on Restoring the Union after the Civil War, Philip Lyons conducts a painstakingly thorough review of Reconstruction historiography and the primary sources to give us a work that will enrich Civil War and Reconstruction literature. It will enlighten both the general reader and challenge the professional to critically examine their thinking on both Reconstruction and the Civil War. -- Charles R. Smith, Marymount University At a time when ethnic and sectarian strife is undoing new democracies in other parts of the world, Statesmanship and Reconstruction reminds us how hard it was to build multi-racial democracy after our own Civil War. This fine study documents that many statesmen at the time understood the challenge and their efforts were not hopeless. Even with all their failures, they left a legacy that still shapes our country. -- Jeremy Rabkin, George Mason Universityshow more

About Philip B. Lyons

Philip B. Lyons earned his PhD in political science at the University of Chicago.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Why A Study of Reconstruction Statesmanship?... Chapter 2: Lincoln and Reconstruction... Chapter 3: Johnson and Restoration ... Chapter 4: Bringing the Declaration of Independence to the South: Drafting the Fourteenth Amendment ... Chapter 5: Recipe for Factionalism in the Defeated States: Drafting the Congressional Reconstruction Act and Supplements thereto... Chapters 6 through 9. Introduction: Reconstruction of the Eleven Formerly Rebellious States... Chapter 6: The Collapse of Reconstruction in Mississippi, North Carolina and Georgia... Chapter 7: The Hunt for a Middle Ground: South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee... Chapter 8: Strong Leaders but to No Avail: Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas... Chapter 9: Reconstruction Statesmen at Work: Virginia and Florida... Chapter 10: Grant's Disillusionment... Chapter 11: Moderate Republicanism and the End of Reconstruction...show more