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New Orleans after the Civil War

Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom

Justin A. Nystrom

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We often think of Reconstruction as an unfinished revolution. Justin A. Nystrom’s original study of the aftermath of emancipation in New Orleans takes a different perspective, arguing that the politics of the era were less of a binary struggle over political supremacy and morality than they were about a quest for stability in a world rendered uncertain and unfamiliar by the collapse of slavery.

Commercially vibrant and racially unique before the Civil War, New Orleans after secession and following Appomattox provides an especially interesting case study in political and social adjustment...

We often think of Reconstruction as an unfinished revolution. Justin A. Nystrom’s original study of the aftermath of emancipation in New Orleans takes a different perspective, arguing that the politics of the era were less of a binary struggle over political supremacy and morality than they were about a quest for stability in a world rendered uncertain and unfamiliar by the collapse of slavery.

Commercially vibrant and racially unique before the Civil War, New Orleans after secession and following Appomattox provides an especially interesting case study in political and social adjustment. Taking a generational view and using longitudinal studies of some of the major political players of the era, New Orleans after the Civil War asks fundamentally new questions about life in the post–Civil War South: Who would emerge as leaders in the prostrate but economically ambitious city? How would whites who differed over secession come together over postwar policy? Where would the mixed-race middle class and newly freed slaves fit in the new order? Nystrom follows not only the period’s broad contours and occasional bloody conflicts but also the coalition building and the often surprising liaisons that formed to address these and related issues. His unusual approach breaks free from the worn stereotypes of Reconstruction to explore the uncertainty, self-doubt, and moral complexity that haunted Southerners after the war.

This probing look at a generation of New Orleanians and how they redefined a society shattered by the Civil War engages historical actors on their own terms and makes real the human dimension of life during this difficult period in American history.

Reviews

Reviews

A richly detailed, thought-provoking study of politics in postbellum New Orleans... Breaks new ground and will generate fresh thinking about Reconstruction in New Orleans and the nation.

Nystrom takes the reader on the journey from slavery to freedom, emancipation to suffrage then back into a harsh period of disfranchisement by the end of the nineteenth century... He moves beyond previous revisionist studies on Reconstruction by examining indicators of change by way of those making the decisions.

A fascinating and complex story that Nystrom's narrative incisively clarifies to a degree no work before has managed to accomplish.

An excellent choice for any collection in U.S. history.

Nystrom now adds nuance to these studies by providing a close biographical reading of several New Orleanians as they struggled with questions of secession, occupation, emancipation, racial equality, and political division.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
324
ISBN
9781421416977
Illustration Description
6 halftones
Table of Contents

The Quests
Part I
1. Voices from the Field
Part II
2. Origins, Schisms, and Crises
3. "Nobel or Rebel?"
4. MSF Greece Ostracized
5. The Return of MSF Greece
Part III
6. La Mancha
Part IV
7. Struggling with HIV/

The Quests
Part I
1. Voices from the Field
Part II
2. Origins, Schisms, and Crises
3. "Nobel or Rebel?"
4. MSF Greece Ostracized
5. The Return of MSF Greece
Part III
6. La Mancha
Part IV
7. Struggling with HIV/ AIDS
8. In Khayelitsha
9. A "Non-Western Entity" Is Born
Part V
10. Reaching Out to the Homeless and Street Children of Moscow with Olga Shevchenko
11. Confronting TB in Siberian Prisons with Olga Shevchenko
Coda
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Justin A. Nystrom, Ph.D.

Justin A. Nystrom is an assistant professor of history at Loyola University New Orleans and the co-director of the Center for the Study of New Orleans.