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The Pursuit of a Dream (Banner Books) Paperback – March 1, 1999
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I recently read (yeah, really read, cover to cover) the fifth volume of the documentary history of reconstruction ably put together by Ira Berlin and his team and successors, and what struck me the most was the absolute lack of foresight on the part of the "radicals", including Lincoln.
Now Lincoln did not get to "see" or implement Reconstruction, but he appears to have left nothing of his thoughts (to Sumner, to Johnson, to us) about what a slave-free America would look like, as if he could not contemplate such a thing.
The "Redeemers" surely had a thought on what that would be, just a minor variation on slavery itself (and so it played out). What Professor Hermann has done here is shown an alternative, nearly visionary approach, with the visionary himself being the unlikely Joseph Davis, and the agents the remarkable Montgomery's.
How can a document such as The Emancipation Proclamation get written without serious thought to its consequences? Emancipation and the assimilation of freedmen became as a result a pretty chaotic mess--- much more attention paid to the secessionists' future than to the freedmen's--- and this is no slur upon the black reconstructionists, who did their best, but--- much more significantly--- did SOMEthing for which they and all other former slaves were, deliberately and calculatedly but sometimes inadvertantly, completely untrained, a situation never remedied except in noble experiments like Davis Bend and by noble men like the Montgomerys.