- Library Binding
- Publisher: Reprint Services Corp (January 1929)
- ISBN-10: 0781262011
- ISBN-13: 978-0781262019
- Package Dimensions: 10 x 7.1 x 1.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,894,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tragic Era; The Revolution After Lincoln (BCL1 - U.S. History)
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First, contrary to Sesquicentennial-era Reconstruction narratives, the book is as much about the general political corruption of the period in the North as in the South. Examples that have nothing to do with the South include (1) Credit Mobilier, (2) Belknap's bribery, (3) Babcock's Whisky Ring, and other political scandals of the Grant administration and era such as James G. Blaine's role in railroad finance corruption.
Second, the book cogently organizes facts unfair to the South that modern Reconstruction historians like Blight, McPherson, and Foner, ignore. For example, the federal cotton tax after the Civil War raised almost three times as much revenue as was "invested" in the Freedman's Bureau during the Bureau's entire existence, yet Foner, Blight, and McPherson characterize the Bureau as an eleemosynary organization promoted by morally superior Yankees. Nowhere do Foner, Blight, or McPherson clarify that the Yankees didn't pay a dime for the Bureau and required the impoverished South to pay for it.
Another example is the liberal Union veterans pensions that rose to 40% of the federal budget in 1893. They were used to justify high tariffs and keep the Republicans in control in Washington by corralling votes in the Midwest where the states of the region might otherwise have opposed high tariffs The peak year for Union veteran pension payments was 1921. The modern Reconstruction narrative almost totally ignores Union veterans pensions and the scandals, including resignations by government officials, that accompanied it.
Third, unlike the one-sided Blight, McPherson, and Foner, Bowers gives both sides of the Reconstruction story. For example, Blight, Foner, and McPherson consistently characterize the federal occupation soldiers as necessary to insure "honest" elections. But anyone would have to be as gullible as the gate keepers of Troy to believe that elections could possibly be honest when polling places were held captive under the glitter of bayonets from an army whose mission was to insure the election of candidates compatible with the interests of the controlling (Republican) party in Washington. White Southerners were arbitrarily turned away from the polls in order to insure the desired Radical Republican election results.
I read a book on the life of the former Postmaster General of the Confederacy, John Heminger Reagan. What an amazing man for political justice and the human rights of 'common' people, a long time fighter against big business tycoons! If one reads "Not Without Honor: the Life of John H. Reagan" in conjunction with "The Tragic Era" it really educates us how croniism ruled the years of Reconstruction+. You detest the devilish personalities in Tragic Era, would like to smack them around a bit, tar and feather them and run them out of American history. Then, on the other hand, you marvel and admire individuals like Reagan as he championed individual rights in Texas, striving years against those reprehensible types in the Tragic Era. Thanks to Reagan you can rejoice for the Interstate Commerce Act, which restricted the railroad monopolies and those detestable agendas of Radical Republicanism in the 19th century.
We have not had a recent Civil War. But, we can still see elements of our contemporary Congress resembling the post Civil War / Reconstruction / Federal Occupation era. How did the USA North & South ever reconcile!?