The Republic for Which It Stands

The Republic for Which It Stands

The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896

Book - 2017
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"During Reconstruction Northerners attempted to remake the United States in their own image. They would make incarnate the new world Republicans imagined at the end of the Civil War. That new world seemed possible because the Republican Party controlled the Union in 1865 as fully as any political party would ever control the country. Reconstruction would produce a nation built around free labor with a homogenous citizenry whose rights would be guaranteed by a newly empowered federal government. Black as well as white citizens would inhabit a largely Protestant country of independent producers. They never realized that dream. The government's attempts to implement this vision confronted significant obstacles. Southern whites successfully resisted, and Indians resisted with far less success. Freedpeople both grasped the opportunities that the Republican vision offered them and attempted to articulate their own version of republican America. The United States became a nation of immigrants, Catholic and Jewish as well as Protestant. New technologies transformed the economy, as Americans significantly shifted into wage workers instead of independent producers. Capitalism produced the very rich and the very poor. The Gilded Age thrived where Reconstruction failed, the template of American modernity. The era was full of paradoxes. Notoriously corrupt, it also formed a seedbed of reform. It spawned racial, religious, and social conflicts as deep as the country had seen to date, but a newly diverse nation emerged. The newest volume in the acclaimed Oxford History of the United States series, The Republic for Which It Stands offers a magisterial account of the Gilded Age's real legacy that lies buried beneath its capitalists of legend and its corrupt politicians."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9780199735815
0199735816
Characteristics: xx, 941 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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EmilyEm
Jan 12, 2018

A couple books read in the last year and current events made me want to look at this time in US history more fully. White’s book covers all the bases—the economy, politics, social movements, industrialization and changes in labor, personalities and the changing population not only of those who could now vote, but those who continued to be disenfranchised. My own farm family’s history as migrants and immigrants to Middle Border Kansas during this time was motivation to read this history. I had a grandmother and great-grandmother proud of their WCTU memberships.

What I learned will give me insights to think of my own family differently, that some of their prejudices about other religions or people of color were not uncommon; the WCTU was an organization for gender equity as much for temperance. White’s view that an ideal American in that time was thought to be white, from English or Northern European ancestors, Protestant and an independent farmer or small businessman who simply wanted to establish good homes in good communities fits my ancestors to a T. But, the devastating effects of that ideal on many immigrants, people of color and Native Americans is brilliantly told as is the corruption rampant in many walks of life and the belief still alive and well today that poor people have only themselves to blame. Someone reading this book with another purpose would without a doubt find another set of assumptions to spur their own thinking. Hefty book, lots to ponder. Not too scholarly.

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