PRESIDENTIAL RECONSTRUCTION IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA, 1865-1867

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Steven E. Nash (Creator)
Institution
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/

Abstract: Reconstruction, with some justification, has often been viewed historically in black and white. Historians have long viewed the postwar struggle as one between racially united white southerners and their former slaves. Recent state and regional studies of the South , however, have raised new issues regarding the Presidential Reconstruction experience throughout the former Confederacy. A variety of historical forces including race, class , and wartime loyalties, shaped Presidential Reconstruction in western North Carolina. Reconstruction was only partially the story of African Americans' transition to freedom. Throughout the South, different groups of whites also fought one another for political and social superiority. In western North Carolina, this conflict largely derived from wartime class tensions. Forced to sacrifice their men,agricultural produce, and more to the Confederate cause, poorer whites resented their wealthier neighbors, who appeared to escape such sacrifices. Such tensions were prevalent in western North Carolina where independent small landholders dominated the population. Following the war, those tensions would help shape the political and social struggle between mountain whites during Presidential Reconstruction . This thesis explores how western North Carolinians responded to the Civil War's consequences. Who would rule following the war? How did the former slave owning class reestablish its political power? What would be African Americans' role in a mountain society without slavery? How did whites and blacks define African Americans' freedom? Race alone can not answer these questions. Western North Carolina's black population, roughly thirteen percent of the total, was simply too small to dominate Presidential Reconstruction. Rather the immediate postwar years in western North Carolina can only be understood within a cross-current of forces (race, class, and wartime loyalties) acting concurrently.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2001

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