Beyond RedemptionRace, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War

Beyond RedemptionRace, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War

Carole Emberton

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226024271

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

In the months after the end of the Civil War, there was one word on everyone’s lips: redemption. From the fiery language of Radical Republicans calling for a reconstruction of the former Confederacy to the petitions of those individuals who had worked the land as slaves, and to the white supremacists who would bring an end to Reconstruction in the late 1870s, this crucial concept informed the ways in which many people—both black and white, northerner and southerner—imagined the transformation of the American South. This book explores how the violence of a protracted civil war shaped the meaning of freedom and citizenship in the new South. It traces the competing meanings that redemption held for Americans as they tried to come to terms with the war and the changing social landscape. While some imagined redemption from the brutality of slavery and war, others—such as the infamous Ku Klux Klan—sought political and racial redemption for their losses through violence. The book merges studies of race and American manhood with an analysis of post-Civil War American politics to offer insight into the violence of Reconstruction.