Those Terrible Carpetbaggers : A Reinterpretation

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9780195048728: Those Terrible Carpetbaggers : A Reinterpretation

Woodrow Wilson described them as men bent on "an expedition of profit," who used "the negroes as tools for their own selfish ends." Horance Greeley, while running for President, said they were "fellows who crawled down south in the track of our armies, generally at a very safe distance in the rear." And in the South they were hotly condemned as "the larvae of the North," "vulturous adventurers," and "vile, oily, odious." But how accurately does this describe the men from the North who came to be called "carpetbaggers"? Were they uneducated, penniless exploiters of the freed slave, jackals who plundered a devastated South?
In this eye-opening account, the eminent Civil War historian Richard Nelson Current weaves together the biographies of ten of these men--all of whom are representative, if not the epitome, of the men called "carpetbaggers." The result is a provocative revisionist history of Reconstruction and what has long been considered its "most disgraceful" episode. Set within the larger context of Congressional politics and the history of individual Southern states, Current's narrative reveals a group of men who were often highly educated, almost all of whom had served with distinction in the Union Army (three were generals), and several of whom brought their own money down South to help rebuild a war-torn land. Daniel H. Chamberlain, for instance, was educated at Yale and Harvard Law School--he was described by the President of Yale as "a born leader of men"--was governor of South Carolina, and later made a fortune as a Wall Street lawyer. Adelbert Ames, far from exploiting the black, was a leading exponent of black rights, the author of the main brief of the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, a major court battle against segregation. And Albion W. Tourgee, author of the best-selling A Fool's Errand, was praised after his death by W.E.B. du Bois for his efforts on behalf of the freed slaves.
Current's vivid narrative captures the passions of this tumultuous period as he documents the careers and private lives of these ten prominent men. But more important, he provides a major reinterpretation of the entire period, revealing Reconstruction as it was seen by ten of its leading exponents in the South.

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Richard Nelson Current is University Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a former president of the Southern Historical Association.

Review:


"A highly readable, insightful penetration in depth of both Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction....A superb account of the lives and times of selected carpetbaggers."--John Niven, Claremont Graduate School "Richly instructive about the familiar carpetbagger stereotype."--C. Vann Woodward, The New Republic


"There can be few other episodes in American history as fascinating and as dramatic as the one he has selected and, quite probably, few other historians besides Richard Current who could write about it as compellingly."--Michael Perman, Civil War History


"The author has thoroughly investigated and written a spirited defence of the Northerners who migrated to the US South after the Civil War."--Sage Race Relations Abstracts


"An informative and thoroughly engrossing work on the reconstruction period."--Michael E. Long, Southside Virginia Community College


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