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An objective view of politics in the Reconstruction South

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posted on Jan, 26 2012 @ 12:23 PM
This is a fantastic work by the Prussian born journalist, Charles Nordhoff, who worked for several Northern publications during the Reconstruction era. As a Republican who traveled the country writing for these publications, perhaps his most interesting work is on the South. During the spring of 1875 Mr. Nordhoff visited several Southern US states a decade after the American Civil War. His intention was to learn about the politics during the time, the relations between blacks and whites, and the citizens thoughts about the American Civil War.

Given his background as a Northern Republican and work as a journalist one would expect a hint of bias in favor of the Southern Republicans; this he does not do. He gives a very professional and what one would assume to be, objective take on Southern politics and race relations.

For anyone looking for vilification of Southern whites as nasty murderous bigots, look elsewhere. And if you are looking for someone who is going to defend the institution of slavery or Confederate generals, I would also recommend looking elsewhere. Assuming you, like me, are looking for a good clear picture of the times then this is for you.

I am not trying to ‘start anything’ with this thread. It is was posted in American politics because this is dealing with the politics side of Reconstruction; not specifically the racial side.

The cotton states in the spring of 1875

(Below is just a small excerpt. I would recommend you read all of his 15 points.)

The following, then, are the conclusions I
draw from my observations in the Cotton
States :
1. There is not, in any of the States of
which I speak, any desire for a new war ;
any hostility to the Union ; any even remote
wish to re-enslave the blacks ; any hope or
expectation of repealing any constitutional
amendment, or in any way curtailing the
rights of the blacks as citizens. The former
slave-holders understand perfectly that the
blacks can not be re-enslaved. ” They have
been free, and they would drive us out of
the country if they thought we were about
to re-enslave them. They are a quiet and
peaceable people, except when they are ex-
asperated; but then they are terrible. A
black mob is a ruthless and savage thing,”
said a Southern man to me; and another
remarked, ” If ever you, in the North, want
to re-enslave the negroes, you must give us
three months’ notice, so that we may all
move out, with our wives and children.
They were a source of constant anxiety to
us when we held them in slavery. To at-
tempt to re-enslave them would be only to
invite them to murder us, and lay the conn-
try waste.”
In Mississippi alone did I find politicians
silly enough to talk about the Caucasian
race, and the natural incapacity of the ne-
gro for self-government ; and even there the
best Republicans told me that these noisy
Democratic demagogues were but a small,
though aggressive and not powerful, mi-
nority ; and even in Mississippi, a strong Re-
publican, a Federal law officer, an honest
and faithful man, assured me that the north-
em half of the State, which, with the ex-
ception of the region lying about Vicks-
burg, is the most prone to occasional vio-
lence and disorder, was, when I was there, to
his personal knowledge, as peaceful and or-
derly as any part of New York or Ohio.

posted on Jan, 26 2012 @ 01:07 PM
It is interesting. I was sort of expecting a 'Gone with the Wind' carpet baggers madcap comedy. It was actually very insightful of the mindset of the times and very much within the journalistic mentality of the period. Thank you for sharing this.

Point number 4 is especially interesting to me, as it paints a broad picture unanimity in a re-united nation.
edit on 1/26/2012 by NuminousCosmos because: added thought point

posted on Jan, 26 2012 @ 02:06 PM
reply to post by Misoir

That was only because segregation of the races was the norm and was for almost a hundred years after the end of the civil war.

A "separate peace".

I was raised in the north in a small Midwestern town.

This town, when I was very young was a "sundown" town,with nasty bluntly worded signs at the entry's and everything.

This one mans observations and musings are not a true indication of the situation in the south after the war and during reconstruction.

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