Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor and Politics in the Post-Civic War North, 1865-1901, 2001

Cox’s ambitious book seeks to explain the northern public’s abandonment of freed men and women in the postemancipation era. Placing labor and class issues at the center of her analysis, Cox highlights the ways in which northern white anxieties about the ability and willingness of free blacks to comport with idealized notions of free labor, along with fears that ex-slave politics challenged property rights and proper government, were behind northerners’ nonintervention in the segregation and disfranchisement of blacks in the south. This book parallels the works of Beckert and Rosen in that it illuminates popular concerns about the impact of expanded membership and suffrage on systems of privilege and conceptions of propriety. It also sheds light on popular reactions to the perceived threat of new populations to the body politic.

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