Eric Foner's "masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history" (New Republic) redefined how the post-Civil War period was viewed.
Reconstruction chronicles the way in which Americans—black and white—responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. It addresses the ways in which the emancipated slaves' quest for economic autonomy and equal citizenship shaped the political agenda of Reconstruction; the remodeling of Southern society and the place of planters, merchants, and small farmers within it; the evolution of racial attitudes and patterns of race relations; and the emergence of a national state possessing vastly expanded authority and committed, for a time, to the principle of equal rights for all Americans.
This "smart book of enormous strengths" (Boston Globe) remains the standard work on the wrenching post-Civil War period—an era whose legacy still reverberates in the United States today.
Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Douglas A. Blackmon unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude shortly thereafter. By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.
In three conceptually wide-ranging and provocative essays, the authors assess the meaning of freedom for enslaved and free Americans in the decades before and after the Civil War. They ask important and challenging questions: How did slaves and freedpeople respond to the promise and reality of emancipation? How committed were white southerners to the principle of racial subjugation? And in what ways can we best interpret the actions of enslaved and free Americans during slavery and Reconstruction? Collectively, these essays offer fresh approaches to questions of local political power, the determinants of individual choices, and the discourse that shaped and defined the history of black freedom.
Written by three prominent historians of the period, Slavery’s Ghost forces readers to think critically about the way we study the past, the depth of racial prejudice, and how African Americans won and lost their freedom in nineteenth-century America.