Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

Education and Preservation


2017 Book Reviews

Southern Reconstruction

Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh

In lieu of a review, below is a speech Philip made about the book.

Historians reinterpreted Civil War Reconstruction over the past fifty years. Shortly before the Centennial, it was commonly believed that the chief aim of the Republican-dominated Congress was to ensure lasting party control over the federal government by creating a reliable voting bloc in the South for which improved racial status among blacks was a coupled, but secondary, objective. By the Sesquicentennial, however, it had become the accepted view that Republicans were primarily motivated by an enlightened drive for racial equality untainted by anything more than negligible self-interest. Consequently, the presently dominant race-centric focus on Reconstruction minimizes political and economic factors that affected all Southerners regardless of race.

Contrary to popular belief, for example, Southern poverty has been a longer-lasting Civil War legacy than has Jim Crow or segregation. Prior to the war, the South had a bimodal wealth distribution with concentrations at the poles. The classic planters with fifty or more slaves had prosperous estates but they represented less than 1% of Southern families. Partly because 1860 slave property values represented 48% of the Southern wealth, seven of the ten states with the highest per capita wealth soon joined the Confederacy.

Since nearly 70% of Confederate families did not own slaves, however, the regional per capita income was only slightly ahead of the north central states and well behind the average northeastern state. A century later eight of the bottom ten states in per capita income were former members of the Confederacy. The depth of post-Civil War Southern poverty and its duration were far greater, longer, and more multiracial than is commonly supposed. It took eighty-five years for the South’s per capita income to regain the below average percentile ranking it held in 1860.

The war had destroyed two-thirds of Southern railroads and two-thirds of the region’s livestock was gone. Steamboats had nearly disappeared from the rivers. Excluding the total loss in the value of slaves resulting from emancipation, assessed property values in 1870 were less than half of those of 1860, while property taxes were four times higher. Approximately 300,000 white Southern males in the prime of adulthood died during the war and perhaps another 200,000 were incapacitated, representing about 18% of the region’s approximate 2.7 million white males of all ages in 1860 and about 36% of those over age nineteen.

During the war, Southern farms drifted back to nature. Since their protective levees had been destroyed, thousands of square miles of Mississippi Delta cotton lands were overrun with briers and cane thickets. Returning Confederate soldiers often found that their families were starving. In December 1865, estimated half-million whites in three Gulf states alone were without life’s necessities, and some had starved to death.

Historian David L. Cohn adds:

When there was a shortage of work stock, the few surviving animals were passed from neighbor to neighbor. [When] there was no work stock [the men] hitched themselves to the plow. By ingenuity, backbreaking toil, and cruel self-denial thousands of Southern farmers survived reconstruction…They received no aid from any source, nor any sympathy outside the region.

By 1870 Southern bank capital totaled only $17 million, compared to $61 million ten years earlier in 1860. So great was the devastation and anemic the rebound that by 1900 the South had barely recovered to the level of economic activity prior to the Civil War. Economic conditions in the South after the Civil War were largely ignored by national policies until President Franklin Roosevelt commissioned a report in 1938, which was nearly eighty years after the end of the Civil War.

The Roosevelt-commissioned study disclosed that the South remained America’s poorest region. Its 1937 per capita income of $314 was only about half of the $604 for the rest of the country. Since residents paid one another less than elsewhere for local goods and services the South also had a lower cost of living. The difference, however, was minor. A 1935 survey that placed the American family poverty line at $75 monthly, estimated the figure was only three dollars lower in the South at $72. Shortly after the Great Depression began, the president of General Motors voluntarily cut his annual salary from $500,000 to $340,000. His $160,000 cut was more than all the income taxes paid by two million Mississippi residents that year.

Conditions were worst among the farmers who powered the South’s main economic engine. During the last year before the Great Depression that started in 1929, Southern farmers earned an average of $190, which was about 65% below the $530 average of other American farmers. Yet their revenue was a gross income out of which operating expenses such as fertilizer, seed, and interest on debt had to be paid. As a result there was often little money left for food and clothing and none for such common articles as books and radios. Cotton and tobacco provided two-thirds of Southern farm income.

Even as late as the 1930s, more than half of Southern farmers depended upon cotton alone. Price fluctuations in the World cotton markets were sheer gambles, yet they were often the key determinant of the one-crop farmer’s income. Cotton prices dropped from $0.20 a pound in 1927 before bottoming-out at $0.06 in 1931. Only once during the ten years from 1927 to 1937 did the price change less than 10% annually.

Tenant farmers and sharecroppers that composed more than half of all Southern farmers were at the bottom of the heap. Many lived in circumstances comparable to the Russian serfs of the nineteenth century. Sharecropper per capita incomes ranged from $38 to $87 annually, which equated to $0.10 to $0.25 per day. By comparison, during the depression that followed the 1873 Financial Panic sixty-five years earlier, the Ohio Department of Labor Statistics estimated the poverty line at one dollar a day. Perhaps most surprising to present-day audiences, Roosevelt’s report disclosed that whites composed half of all sharecroppers and that they lived “under economic conditions almost identical with those of Negro sharecroppers.”

Since cotton was the cornerstone of the South’s economy nearly all residents shared the farmer’s hazards to some extent. Financing the farmers, for example, was more costly than elsewhere because of the greater risk of failure. One 1934 study revealed that 10% of Southern farmland was owned by lenders who had been forced to foreclose on mortgages.

Poverty bred poor health. Ailments such a pellagra, rickets and hookworm that were almost unknown in other parts of the country and could be prevented by cheap dietary changes, better sanitation and shoes, plagued the South for almost a century after the Civil War. Even in Southern cities an average of three-fourths of the poor did not have enough money to afford the preventive diets. So short was the life expectancy in South Carolina that as late as 1930 half the state’s population was under age twenty.

Of three million farm homes surveyed in 1930 only 6% had piped-in water. More than half were unpainted. Only about one-third had screens. Nearly eighty years after the end of the Civil War the Roosevelt study concluded that half of Southern families needed new housing.

Post-war politics and federal economic policies contributed to the South’s long delayed economic recovery. Among such factors were property confiscations, Republican Party self-interest, discriminatory federal budgets, protective tariffs, Union veteran pensions, banking regulations, discriminatory freight rates, lax monopoly regulation, absentee ownership and the requirement that America’s most impoverished region pay for the public education of the children of ex-slaves even though emancipation was a national—not regional—policy.

When Lee surrendered to Grant, more than two million fungible cotton bales were scattered across the South. Given an average price of 43 cents per pound, each bale was worth about $172, putting the value of the entire inventory at nearly $350 million as compared to $15 million of US currency then circulating in the region. The cotton inventory might have primed the pump of Southern recovery, but instead it was plundered.

Union soldiers, US treasury officials, and Northern businessmen stole most of it under the pretext of legitimate confiscation, or no pretext at all. A dismayed US Treasury Secretary Hugh McCulloch remarked, “I am sure that I sent some honest cotton agents South, but it sometimes seems very doubtful that any of them remained honest very long.”

Southern lands were also confiscated for non-payment of state taxes imposed by Carpetbag regimes, which were some of the highest in relation to wealth in US history. At one point 15% of Mississippi’s taxable land was up for sale due to tax defaults and an Arkansas newspaper required sixteen pages to list delinquencies.

When the Civil War ended the Republican Party was barely ten years old. Its leaders worried that it might be strangled in the cradle if re-admittance of Southern states into the Union failed to be managed in a manner that would prevent Southerners from allying with Northern Democrats to regain control of the federal government. If all former Confederate states were admitted to Congress in December 1865 and each added member was a Democrat, the Republican Senate majority would have dropped from 40-to-8 and become 40-to-30. Similarly, the Party’s majority in the House would have dropped from 111-to-40 and become 111-to-79. In short, the Republicans would have no longer held a veto-proof two-thirds majority in Congress.

Thus, the infant GOP needed to ensure that most of the new Southern senators and congressmen were admitted as Republicans. That meant that vassal governments needed to be established in the Southern states. Since there were few white Republicans in the region the Party needed to create a new constituency. Consequently, Republicans settled on two objectives.

First was mandatory African-American suffrage in all former Confederate states. Republicans expected that the mostly illiterate and inexperienced black electorate could be manipulated to consistently support Party interests out of gratitude for emancipation and voter suffrage. Second was to deny the vote to the Southern white classes most likely to oppose Republican policies, which meant many former Confederates.

Although it is often assumed that Republican Party sponsorship of Southern black suffrage was motivated by a moral impulse to promote racial equality, the bulk of the evidence suggests the Party was more interested in retaining political power.

First, the 1866 Civil Rights Act passed over President Johnson’s veto declared nearly all blacks to be citizens but expressly denied citizenship to Indians unless they were paying taxes. Indians would not gain full citizenship until the 1920s. Other “non-whites” such as Asians were also excluded. Chinese-Americans, for example, could not even become naturalized U. S. citizens until 1943.

Second, Republicans recognized that many Northerners did not favor black suffrage in their own states. When the Civil War began, blacks were not permitted to vote in sixteen of the twenty-two Union-loyal states. In most of the remaining six they could only vote by meeting property and education tests that were more stringent than those applied to whites.

Upon the war’s conclusion, only five New England states with tiny black populations permitted them to vote. Connecticut, Minnesota, and Wisconsin each rejected black suffrage in 1865. Kansas did so in 1867 as did Michigan and Missouri in 1868 and even New York in 1869. As shall be explained, the Republicans would adopt a strategy that would permit Northern states to reject black suffrage with only negligible consequences but would significantly penalize Southern states for doing so.

Third, a month after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Union Major General William T. Sherman wrote a colleague, “I have never heard a negro ask for… [voting rights] … and I think it would be his ruin…I believe the whole idea of giving votes to the negroes is to create just that many votes to be used by others for political uses…”

Fourth, the two Republican leaders most commonly believed to be sincerely interested in black racial equality also admitted that they also wanted Southern black suffrage in order to help keep their Party in power.

Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Stevens who would ultimately be buried in a black cemetery said, “If [black] suffrage is excluded in the rebel States then every one of them is sure to send a solid rebel representative delegation to Congress…They, with their kindred [Northern] Copperheads, would always elect the President and control Congress.” He also stated that the Southern states, “ought never…be…counted as valid states until the Constitution shall have been amended…to secure perpetual ascendancy to the party of the Union [meaning the Republican Party].”

Similarly, a Rhode Island Republican complained to abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, “Without [black suffrage in the South], Southerners will certainly unite…with Democrats of the North, and the long train of evils sure to follow their rule is fearful to contemplate…[including]…a great reduction of the tariff.”

Fifth, after the collapse of the Carpetbag regimes in 1877, Washington Republicans virtually ignored the black electorate until the eve of the tightly contested reelection campaign of President Benjamin Harrison against Democrat Grover Cleveland in 1892. In 1890 Massachusetts Representative Henry Cabot Lodge introduced a “Force Bill” to empower the federal government to supervise elections in the South under the glitter of bayonets thereby optimizing Republican election prospects in the region. The bill, however, was dropped when the Republicans traded it away for Southern support of the McKinley Tariff, which raised import duties to about 50%. Although Republicans claimed the Lodge Bill underscored the Party’s determination to protect black voters, the motive was evidently less powerful than their hunger for higher tariffs.

As a result of their post-war lust for lasting political power the Republicans proceeded with a plan for universal black suffrage in the South, if not the North. The first step was to adopt three 1867 congressional acts passed over President Andrew Johnson’s vetoes. The acts imposed four requirements on the South.

First, except for Tennessee the remaining ten states of the former Confederacy were divided into five military districts and governed by martial law. Soldiers could be used to supervise voter registration in order to optimize Republican-favorable results. Tennessee was exempted because it already had a Radical Republican government. Second, each of the ten states was to organize a convention to adopt a new constitution satisfactory to Congress. Third, the states were required to let black males vote for convention delegates but were simultaneously obliged to deny the vote to many white military and civil officers of the former Confederacy specified by their previous office or military service. Fourth, each state constitution was to require universal black male suffrage and typically also block white suffrage at least as rigidly as it was restricted in the earlier vote for constitutional convention delegates.

Although Congress overrode his objections, President Johnson’s veto messages cast doubt on the constitutionality of the Reconstruction Acts as well as the 1866 Civil Rights Act. Ever since the 1791 Tenth Amendment voter qualifications had been universally regarded as a states’ right. In 1868, therefore, the Republicans resolved to amend the US Constitution. The result was the Fourteenth Amendment, which had two key provisions.

First, persons born in the United States would be American citizens and citizens of their resident states. No race could be excluded, except non-taxpaying Indians, although the Supreme Court would later rule that Chinese-Americans were also prohibited from becoming naturalized citizens. Second, states refusing suffrage to male citizens of any qualified race would have their congressional representation cut by subtracting the number of members of the excluded race from the state’s population for purposes of calculating its House representation and electoral votes. Due to their tiny black populations, the provision was inconsequential in Northern states. As an incentive for Carpetbag states to approve the amendment, Congress separately specified that no elected representative from the former Confederate states could be seated in Congress until his state adopted the Fourteenth Amendment and Congress approved his state’s new constitution. Until then, Southern state governments had no legal authority.

The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified under controversial circumstances in July 1868 when Secretary of State William Seward declared that 28 of 36 states had approved it, even though two (Ohio and New Jersey) had rescinded their ratification. Additionally, Seward counted Tennessee as a ratifying state even though its legislature obtained a quorum only by arresting two opposing legislators and forcing them to sit quietly while the motion passed.

By disfranchising many white Southerners and forcing black suffrage in the South the Republicans were able to get six Southern states included among the 28 ratifying the amendment. As a result, the 1868 Republican presidential candidate, Ulysses Grant, won 450,000 black Southern votes without which he would have lost the popular vote although he would have retained a majority of electoral votes.

Since six of the readmitted Southern states voted for Grant in 1868 and only two voted against him, it soon became apparent that a second amendment granting black men the vote in every state could be quickly approved. As a result, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1870. Since Southern state constitutions already included black suffrage, the amendment’s practical effect was in the Northern and former border-states where blacks composed less than 5% of the population. It did, however, insure that no Southern state could avoid black suffrage in the future by repealing such terms in its own constitution.

During Reconstruction Southerners were required to pay their share of federal taxes for sizable budget items that if funded by an independent defeated foe would have constituted reparations. To be sure, reparations are not a rare form of a victor’s compensation, but it should not be assumed that the Southern states escaped equivalent penalties merely because they were readmitted to the Union.

The above table summarizes federal tax revenues and spending for a quarter century following the Civil War. More than half of federal tax revenues were applied to three items: (1) interest on the federal debt, (2) budget surpluses, and (3) Union veterans benefits. Although compelled to pay their share of taxes to fund them, former Confederates derived no benefit from the allocations.

But the table does not tell the whole story.

First, the 1869 Public Credit Act required that federal debt be redeemed in gold. During the war, however, the great majority of investors used paper money to buy the bonds even though the paper money traded at a discount to gold. The discount got as high as 63% while Grant was sustaining heavy casualties in 1864 only to be stalemated at the siege of Petersburg. In short, gold redemption was a huge windfall for the bondholders.

Southerners held few, if any, bonds. Some were held by national banks, which bought them to use as monetary reserves as mandated by the 1863 National Banking Act, but many Northern civilians also owned them. Federal debt jumped forty-fold from $65 million to $2.7 billion during the war. Since bonds and interest had to be paid in gold, the amount of paper currency needed pay them was larger than the face amounts of the bonds and the nominal coupon interest rates. The difference was an extra cost to the taxpayer and a bonus to the bondholder.

The budget surpluses were caused by protective tariffs that generated more income than necessary to operate the federal government. As the table below documents dutiable items were taxed at about 45% until after President Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated in 1913. They were increased again in the 1920s after the Republicans regained the White House. Rates generally remained high until after World War II when the manufacturing economies of the Northern states had no international competitors because of the World war’s destruction of European and Asian economies. In short, America finally became a free-trade advocate only after the manufacturing economies of the Northern states had no international competition.

Protective tariffs were designed to restrict competition for domestic producers, almost none of which were in the South. The South’s was primarily an export economy. Even as late as the 1930s, 60% of its cotton was sold overseas. Foreign buyers, however, were unable to pay for Southern cotton unless they could generate exchange credits by selling manufactured goods into the USA, which protective tariffs impeded. By one estimate the post-war tariff imposed an implicit 11% tax on agricultural exports. As Cornell professor Richard Bensel puts it, “[The tariff] redistributed [wealth] from the periphery to the [Northern industrial regions] in the form of higher prices for manufactured goods and from the periphery to the national treasury in the form of customs duties.”

Finally, former Confederates derived no benefit from generous federal spending on Union veteran pensions. Ex-Rebel soldiers could only collect much smaller pensions from their respective states. Union veteran pensions were originally paid only to soldiers who sustained disabling injuries during military service, but Republicans gradually expanded eligibility to solidify veterans as one of the Party’s voter constituencies.

In 1904 any Union veteran over age 62 was regarded as disabled thereby transforming the program into an old age retirement system instead of the disability-only program it was originally intended to be. In 1893 the pensions represented over 40% of the federal budget. Although dropping as a percent of the total budget thereafter, annual spending on Civil War Union veteran pensions did not stop increasing until 1921, which was over 55 years after the war had ended. The last of the Civil War Union veterans pensions were paid in 2016.

While some federal spending items not specified in the preceding table benefitted the South, they were few, tiny, or funded by the Southerners themselves. From 1865 – 1873, for example, the federal government spent $103 million on public works, but less than 10% went to the former Confederate states. New York and Massachusetts alone got more than twice as much as the entire South.

Instead the federal government taxed cotton. As prices dropped after the war the levy represented about one-fifth of the market value. It raised $68 million in tax revenue, which was about seven times the amount of public works spending in the South from 1865 to 1873. The tax could not be passed along to buyers since most American cotton was exported where it had to compete in price with cotton from other countries that had no such tax. Southerners regarded the tax as illegal since the US Constitution prohibits a tax on the exports of any state. While no solitary state was singled-out for the tax, it undeniably concentrated on a single region.

While the Freedmen’s Bureau provided some economic assistance, it was mostly devoted to the ex-slaves. Moreover, the cotton tax alone amounted to nearly three times the federal spending on the Bureau during the Bureau’s entire existence.

To clarify how post-Civil War banking regulations restrained Southern economic recovery it should be understood that the US Constitution only granted the federal government the authority to coin money and not to print fiat currency. Due to the collapse of the Continental Dollar during the American Revolution the restriction was no mere oversight. The only paper currency circulating prior to the Civil War were the banknotes of independent banks, which merited little value if they could not be redeemed for specie—meaning gold or silver coins. The wheels of commerce required the circulation of such banknotes and/or specie.

The enormous federal financing required by the Civil War compelled monetary changes. The first was the 1862 Legal Tender Act, which paved the way for the 1863 National Banking Act. The first act authorized the federal government to print paper money without gold backing and the second forced national banks to become regular buyers of federal bonds, which were used to finance the war. Independent banks were temporarily nearly driven out of existence by placing a 10% tax on their banknotes.

Although the post-Civil War South badly needed rebuilding capital it was almost impossible for the region’s investors to organize suitable banks for five reasons.

First, national bank capital requirements were beyond the means of impoverished Southerners. Second, national banks generally could not make mortgage loans, a type of loan essential to the agrarian South. Third, national banks were prohibited from operating more than a single branch, which was a handicap in the sparsely populated South. Fourth, even though state chartered banks might offer mortgages and/or require less start-up capital, the 10% federal tax on their banknotes burdened them with prohibitive operating costs. Fifth, regulatory limitations on the amount of national banknotes in circulation made it hard to gain authorization to open new national banks thereby leaving banking concentrated in the Northeast.

Northern railroads steadily increased their ownership of Southern operators after the war due to the South’s capital shortage. The Northern owners quickly began using freight rate differentials to block Southern competition to principal Northern shippers such as steel producers and the makers of other manufactured goods. When asked in 1890 why shipping rates into the North for Southern iron products was higher, one Pennsylvania Railroad agent replied, “It was done at the request of the Pennsylvania iron men.”

Due to its wealth and industrial concentration, however, the region North of the Ohio and Potomac rivers was a market that all domestic manufactures needed to access if they were to compete on a national scale. As a means of impeding competition from Southern and Western manufactures the discriminatory rates were as effective as protective tariffs, which are constitutionally prohibited between states.

Interstate railroad freight practices were not subject to federal review until the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was formed in 1887. One of its chief sponsors was Texas Representative John Reagan who had earlier served as the Confederacy’s Postmaster General. Almost from the beginning, however, the ICC sanctioned discriminatory regional rates. Even before it was formed, Southern railroads charged more per mile than did Northern ones. The disparities were officially acknowledged at the beginning of the twentieth century but were excused on the basis of higher Southern operating cost due to lower population density and seasonal shipment patterns.

No careful study was made until 1939 when rates for the same service in the South were found to be 39% higher than in the North while those in the Southwestern region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and part of New Mexico) were 75% higher. The differentials were so discriminatory that remote Northern manufactures could ship finished goods into the South at lower cost than Southern makers of the same items could distribute them within their own region.

Finally, in the late 1930s Southern governors banded together and filed a complaint involving the rates applicable to fourteen items manufactured in the South. After two years of hearings the ICC handed down a five-to-four decision in favor of the Southern governors. In November 1939, it ordered rate reductions on ten of the fourteen items covered by the complaint. The decision reversed the Commission’s long-standing position that the presumed higher costs of service in the South justified higher rates.

The Transportation Act of 1940 required the ICC to investigate and eliminate geographically discriminatory rates on all freight classes, not merely fourteen items. In January 1944 President Roosevelt told Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall that the President wanted discriminatory regional rates to end. In May 1944 Georgia filed an antitrust lawsuit against twenty-three railroads for conspiring on rates and named the ICC as a co-conspirator. In June 1944, the ICC completed its investigation. In a seven-to-two decision it ruled that rates in the North be increased by 10% and that those in the South and West be reduced by 10%.

Southern hostility toward protective tariffs was also indirectly opposition to monopolies because such tariffs were a prime cause of monopolies. Many, perhaps most, Reconstruction students fail to appreciate the connection because industrial trusts did not become a familiar part of the business landscape until the last quarter of the nineteenth century whereas the end of Reconstruction is conventionally, but erroneously, defined as having ended in    1877 after the collapse of the last Carpetbag regimes.

The first federal response to monopolies was the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. Unfortunately, the act targeted only the apparatus of monopoly instead of the cause. Nine years later the president of New York based American Sugar Refining, which controlled 98% of the market through its famous Domino brand, admitted in testimony to an industrial commission:

The mother of all trusts is the customs tariff bill… [Production economies of scale] … in the same line of business are a great incentive to [trust] formation, but these bear a very insignificant proportion to the advantages granted in the way of protection under the customs tariff…

The tariff bill clutches the people by the throat, and then the governors and attorneys-general of the several States take action, not against the cause but against the machinery…[used]…to rifle the public’s pocket…It is the Government through its tariff laws, which plunders the people, and the trusts…are merely the machinery for doing it.

Tariffs breed monopolies like swamps breed mosquitoes. In 1904 John Moody’s The Truth About Trusts listed almost 320 examples. All but about 20 were protected by tariffs. United States Steel was the biggest and was deliberately formed to suppress competition and restrain trade. Even though steel could be produced more cheaply in America than in other countries, U. S. Steel sold products overseas at lower prices than domestically. The differential averaged about $10 – $20 per long ton. Wire nails, for example, which sold domestically for $2 per hundredweight, were priced at $1.55 in Britain. The beneficiaries were the steel trust and its ecosystem, which included its Northern workers.

In 1889 when Andrew Carnegie toured the emerging Southern steel industry centered in Birmingham he declared, “the South is Pennsylvania’s most formidable industrial enemy.” About ten years later Carnegie’s mills were merged into—and became the largest component of—Pittsburgh-based U. S. Steel. Six years later U. S. Steel purchased the biggest Southern steel mills and imposed discriminatory pricing on Southern production. Thereafter, steel from the company’s Alabama mills included an incremental mark-up, termed the “Birmingham Differential,” of $3 per ton over the Pittsburgh quote.

To further penalize Alabama production, buyers of Birmingham steel were required to pay freight from Birmingham plus a phantom charge as if the shipments originated in Pittsburgh. After Georgia-born Woodrow Wilson became President the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the matter and concluded that Birmingham’s steel production costs were the lowest in the country and 26% below those of Pittsburgh. Yet U. S. Steel continued to require a $3 per ton “Birmingham Differential” on Alabama steel, which was raised to $5 after 1920. Six months after the differential was finally abolished in 1939 shipbuilding plants in Pascagoula, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama announced major expansions.

The consequences of absentee ownership lasted well into the twentieth century. Former Virginia senator and author Jim Webb wrote in Born Fighting that after most of the post-bellum occupiers from the North left the South “they did so with their ownership of the Southern economy firmly in place so that their businesses could be controlled from outside the region thereby sucking generations of profits out of the South and into their own communities.”

President Roosevelt’s 1938 commissioned-study revealed that absentee ownership was a protracted problem and included such essential industries as electric utilities, railroads, steel manufacturing and even cotton textile mills. Outsiders also controlled most of the area’s natural resources such as coal, feldspar, iron ore, zinc, sulfur, and bauxite. Moreover, the most prosperous work of converting the raw materials into finished goods was located elsewhere. The South typically retained only the lower economic value-added function of extracting and shipping the raw materials.

About 90% of the 4.5 million American blacks at the end of the Civil War were living in the former Confederate states. The great majority were illiterate ex-slaves needing public education. Although the federally financed Freedmen’s Bureau spent over $5 million for black schools for five years after the Civil War, Southerners essentially paid for the schools many times over through the $68 million in federal cotton taxes collected before the end of 1868. After the Republican-dominated Congress discontinued the Bureau in 1870, the former Rebel states had to rely upon their own meager tax resources to pay for educating all their pupils, including the 40% who were black.

One effort in the 1880s to provide federal funding for public education failed to gain traction. In an attempt to avoid cutting tariffs a Northern senator proposed a bill to provide temporary federal monies for education in all the states. The aid was to be apportioned among the states based upon their respective rates of illiteracy. The initial amount was to be $15 million annually, but it would decline each year until it reached $1 million. Based upon the South’s higher illiteracy, the region would have been allocated over two-thirds of the total.

The Senate voted on the bill repeatedly over the next decade and most of the South’s senators voted in favor it. Within three years ten Southern state legislatures also passed resolutions supporting the bill. Some Southern representatives, however, balked because they did not want to give the appearance of supporting protective tariffs, which were creating the embarrassingly large budget surpluses. Some Southern opponents were also concerned that once the temporary subsidies expired their states would inherit higher educational budgets than could be sustained from their own tax base. Since most Northerners preferred to spend more money on Union veterans pensions instead of federal aid to education the bill never came to a vote in the House. It died of neglect once higher Union veterans pensions absorbed the budget surplus.

In sum, while it is necessary that Reconstruction history include a thorough analysis of racism and its protracted effects, contemporary historians should also devote comparable attention to the numerous non-racial political and economic factors that are equally important.

Meade and Lee after Gettysburg

Meade and Lee after Gettysburg:  The forgotten final stage of the Gettysburg Campaign, from Falling Waters to Culpeppper Court House, July 14-31, 1863.  By Jeffrey Wm. Hunt

Reviewed by David Lady, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

If I have ever read a “Seinfeld” history, it is this history. I am not criticizing the author, but rather observing how very little occurred over those two weeks in 1863; at least from the point of view of the Lincoln administration.  This is a well-researched and written book about “nothing.”

Jeffrey William Hunt is the Director of the Texas Military Forces Museum located in Austin, TX. He is also an Adjunct Professor of History at Austin Community College, and the author of The Last Battle of the Civil War: Palmetto Ranch. Meade and Lee is the first volume of a projected three-volume set, covering the war in Central Virginia during the late summer and autumn of 1863. The other two volumes will cover the campaign of Bristoe Station and the abortive campaign of Mine Run.

This work provides a detailed account of the movements, skirmishes, and other small actions that occurred immediately after Lee’s Army had retreated across the Potomac into Virginia. Initially, General Lee rested The Army of Northern Virginia in the lower (northern) Shenandoah Valley, while General Meade’s Army crossed the Potomac into the Loudon Valley; east of the Shenandoah and separated from it by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Jeff Hunt’s major theme of the entire series is the generalship of George Meade as an independent commander. President Lincoln expected General Meade to pursue and inflict serious damage, if not destruction, on the defeated Confederate army. Meade conformed to his orders to pursue Lee’s army, but he also conformed to earlier orders that the Federal army remain between Washington and the Confederate Army and defend against any Confederate offensive. Meade was a reluctant pursuer, very conscious of his weaknesses:  new and mediocre commanders in place of wounded Gettysburg leaders, few reinforcements and those of untried quality, no working railroad to supply his army. His caution increased when the Union cavalry was unable to penetrate the Confederate cavalry screen and identify enemy locations. Unable to learn much about Lee’s position west of the Blue Ridge, he fell prey to his wariness of Lee’s habitual audacity and the many conflicting rumors about Confederate intentions and plans. Meade spread his forces out to cover many contingencies and then shifted his men very deliberately to block the passes through the Blue Ridge, particularly Manassas Gap. When Meade finally began to concentrate his infantry Corps for a major thrust against the Gap, his lead commander was so wary of the Confederate defenders that a vastly outnumbered Confederate brigade easily parried the probe until reinforcements arrived to stalemate the situation.

Another theme of Hunt’s narrative is that the defeat at Gettysburg did not severely dispirit General Lee and his generals. They were still capable of quick decision and commendable initiative, and their rapid marches and spirited delaying actions showed the Federals that the Army of Northern Virginia remained a very formidable foe. General Lee grasped the tentative nature of Meade’s movements and then quickly moved his infantry to back-stop the cavalry and prevent Federal interference with his marching units and wagon trains.  With minimal interference and no significant delays, The Army of Northern Virginia was moved to the southern bank of the Rappahannock River, finally ending the Gettysburg Campaign not far from where it began in early June.

The author has done a fine job of analyzing these two weeks from the strategic as well as tactical perspectives. Excellent maps clearly illustrate the positions of both armies and are placed to be of real use to the reader. Contemporary sources are relied on and compared. I recommend this book to those already very well versed in Civil War history, or to readers seeking to complete one of the few remaining gaps in Gettysburg Campaign coverage.



Battle Above the Clouds

Battle Above the Clouds, Lifting the Siege of Chattanooga and the Battle of Lookout Mountain, October 16 – November 24, 1863, by David Powell.

Reviewed by Arley McCormick, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

This is another travel guide in the Emerging Civil War Series provided by Savas Beatie and for members of the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table and Civil War enthusiasts throughout the Tennessee River Valley, it close to home and follows a format similar to previous publications in the series.

David Powell provides an excellent overview of the intrigue by simply stating the personality conflicts between key leaders, both Northern and Southern, and how those rivalries may have affected the outcome of the events. He credits the Round Table’s friend and frequent speaker Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park Historian James H. Ogden III for his insight and research regarding the events surrounding Chattanooga.

For the Civil War enthusiast as well as those casually interested only because it is close to home, reading, digesting, and following the route of the events from Bridgeport, Alabama to the top of Look Out Mountain is a long day trip that will leave the traveler amazed, fully satisfied, and in awe of the challenges adversaries faced in terrain, much of which remains as it was in 1863.

The first tour is the prelude to the contested events with an adventure through the site of Wheeler’s Raid in the Sequatchie Valley beginning in Stevenson, Alabama and sites along the way, Bridgeport, Alabama, Powell’s Crossroads and Anderson’s Crossroads in Tennessee. Tour two includes Brown’s Ferry, Wauhatchie, and Lookout Mountain. There are eight maps and many photos of the leaders, monuments, and sites related to the contested area. And for those intrigued by the size and composition of military formations the author breaks down units to brigade size including their state of origin.

Not only does this particular analysis of the events provide sufficient detail for grasping the strategic and tactical implications facing the adversaries it will challenge the curious to learn more and a suggested reading list is provided.

David A. Powell met the challenge and does not disappoint any Civil War enthusiast.

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Volume III

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Volume III, The Battle of Shepherdstown and the End of the Campaign by Ezra A. Carman (Author) and Thomas Clemens (Author, Editor), Savas Beatie (February 15, 2017)

Reviewed by David Lady, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

This is the third and final volume of an exhaustively researched analysis of the Maryland (or Antietam) Campaign of the American Civil War. Originally authored by Union army officer Ezra Carman (1834-1909), the trilogy has been edited by Thomas Clemens, and enriched with bibliographical and genealogical reference material, a statistical study of casualties, a scholarly analysis of Lincoln’s decision to relieve General McClellan of his command, a summary of the entire campaign, and a good deal more. All three volumes provide very valuable details and thought-provoking interpretation and are highly recommended to Civil War students. The first two volumes are The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Volume I, South Mountain; The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Volume II, Antietam.

Ezra Ayres Carman was born in Oak Tree, New Jersey, on February 27, 1834, and educated at Western Military Academy in Kentucky. He fought with New Jersey volunteers during the Civil War. Thomas G. Clemens earned his PhD at George Mason University. He has published a wide variety of magazine articles and book reviews and is a licensed tour guide at Antietam National Battlefield.

Carman accomplished what he stated as his goal – providing a running narrative that ties together the entire campaign, while not shying away from controversies. This particular volume illustrates that the battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg did not end this most important campaign: General Robert Lee led his troops back to Virginia after the stalemate in Maryland, but intended to return at Williamsport; Union General George McClellan intended to follow the Army of Northern Virginia into Virginia, but the fight at Shepherdstown changed both commanders’ plans. Carmen covers the political controversies around this campaign by utilizing the near-real time letters and messages of the participants:  for example, the telegraphic messages between Halleck and McClellan.   This third volume is a useful window into the political conflict in the east between the professional army officers (almost to a man the senior officers were conservative members of the Democratic Party) and the Republican administration which had few allies in the Potomac Army. The author and his editor give more credit to McClellan than many contemporary historians,  successfully portraying the general’s resolution in fighting Confederate forces as well as his belief that his accomplishments that lived up to his goals. The non-traditional viewpoint of McClellan’s assistance or lack thereof to General Pope in the battle of Second Bull Run should cause the reader to at least question the more common view of our times.
Interesting analysis is made concerning the interaction between McClellan, President Lincoln and Harry Halleck and why ultimately Lincoln replaced the commander on November 7th. Solid evidence is provided that shows how Union Generals Halleck, McClellan and Pope did not always work together with the best interest of President Lincoln and their soldiers. Carmen demonstrates the failure of Generals Porter and Franklin to act in conjunction with the orders of their commanding general at the battle of Second Bull Run which contributed to the utter defeat that Northern forces received from the Confederates.

I am grateful that Savas Beatie publishers has reproduced and greatly improved the original edition of the nineteenth century with the insights and corrections of the editor, himself an expert on the battle and latter part of the campaign. Carmen and Clemens provide an even handed and balanced appraisal of the campaign that has caused me to think about its importance to both war efforts in a new way. I have added this set to my list of must haves and encourage students of the war in the east to consider purchasing these books or pursuing them through the library system.

Confederate Waterloo

Confederate Waterloo:  The Battle of Five Forks, April1, 1865, and the Controversy that Brought Down a General, by Michael J. McCarthy

Reviewed by Ed Kennedy, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

Having spent a career in the Army, I know the Army is not “fair”.  The Army is not “made up of people” as a former Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams (1914-1974) was fond of saying.  He instead said that “It is people!”  Because it is people, it is made up of imperfect beings.  In this regard, leaders are much the same over history.  They have emotions, suffer from the same biases and prejudices as others do, and, in general, are fallible.  For this reason, “Confederate Waterloo” is an excellent study of human dynamics and leadership.  It is a well-researched work that is logically and fairly presented using the best aspects of critical thinking.  It shows that the Army is not “fair”.

Dr. Michael McCarthy has done an outstanding job of relating the sad affair regarding the relief in combat of MajGen Gouverneur K. Warren, a Union Army corps commander with a previously excellent reputation.  Reliefs of command in any circumstance are bad.  In combat, they are worse as it affects the subordinate units and the command climate.  Reliefs of bad commanders are to be celebrated.  For good commanders, reliefs are not good.  Because Warren’s relief was so controversial, it affected the U.S. Army for years after the war.  The War Between the States was close to being over so the effects were not as immediate to the Union Army but it tainted the command climate.

McCarthy does a detailed account of the Battle of Five Forks and the events leading to the demise of Warren as V Corps Commander under MG Meade.  A convoluted command system in which units were detached and attached at-will, a highly confused operational understanding by commanders attempting to use new technology to ‘command and control’ (the telegraph), and what Clausewitz calls “fog” and “friction” are proximate causes of Warren’s relief.

Warren’s performance under Army of the Potomac Commander, MajGen Meade, had been relatively good during the previous year of command.  Meade seemed pleased with V Corps’ performance.  Things took a drastic turn at Five Forks when Grant moved Warren’s V Corps and attached it to Sheridan’s command.  Sheridan was no fan of Warren.  Grant was no fan of Warren’s.  Until 1 April 1865, Meade had served as a buffer between Grant and Warren but with V Corps’ attachment to Sheridan’s command, the leadership dynamics took a radical turn for the worse.

From McCarthy’s account, it is obvious that politics and personalities played strongly into the relationships between commanders —- as is to be expected in real life.  Leadership is a human endeavor and personalities and people are the “human dimension” that defy battlefield calculus.  LtGen Grant, the overall commander on 1 April 1865, was miles from the action at Five Forks.  He was using the telegraph and developed a very imperfect understanding of the situation to try and synchronize operations.  Reflecting a situation that very much relates to current Army doctrine, a situation on the ground is best understood by the local commanders involved.  Grant failed to exercise exactly the understanding that had developed him into a higher-level commander and was “micromanaging” units without the situational understanding required.  Time-distance factors, bad weather, darkness, tired leaders, and a lack of a common situational understanding may have all contributed to the operations that evolved.  Although the Battle of Five Forks was ultimately a Union triumph, Warren was relieved by Sheridan in a preemptory and embarrassing fashion.

For years Warren attempted to seek vindication.  Those who have served in the Army know full-well that regulations and processes can be used as a weapon of retribution, or as a means to suppress anything that is disagreeable to those whose reputations are at stake.  For Grant and his protégé, Sheridan, Warren’s request for redress was successfully suppressed almost 15 years.  Finally, Warren was able to get “his day in court”.  A “Court of Inquiry” was finally convened and in proceedings similar to a modern-day courts martial, lawyers for both sides battled in a very public fray for more than a year.  Warren, who had left the service disgraced, was pitted against two of the most powerful post-war Army officers —- Grant and Sheridan.  The Army, in another attempt to suppress the less than complimentary findings of Sheridan and Grant, again “slow rolled” the results.  However, by the time the findings were made public, Warren had died, his reputation and honor still stained by his relief.

McCarthy does a great service by setting the records straight regarding General Warren.  His research is outstanding but his critical thinking is superlative.  McCarthy delves into the root causes of the issues involving personalities and provides an honest appraisal based on extensive records study and a knowledge of human nature.  This book adds much to the understanding of how leaders were motivated and acted under circumstances of stress, effects of ego, and a desire to be remembered for doing what they thought should be the historical record.

Civil War Alabama

Civil War Alabama by Christopher Lyle Mcllwain Sr. (University of Alabama Press 2016)

“Exhaustively researched, skillfully compiled, and engagingly written, McIlwain’s impressive volume is a service to scholars searching for greater detail and support for their own work, as well as Alabamians hoping to understand exactly how their state could fall into the grip of destructive demagogues and ruinous rebellion.”

— H-Net Reviews

Civil War Alabama is one of the most interesting and provocative studies of a Confederate state that has appeared in recent years. McIlwain presents an impressive amount of fresh research and information that advances a number of striking and controversial interpretations.”

— George C. Rable, author of God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War

“McIlwain has produced an engaging, often witty, and always informative study of the development of Reconstructionist thought in Alabama. This is a topic that has only recently garnered serious attention, and so McIlwain stands as one of its pioneers.”

— Ben H. Severance, author of Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Alabama in the Civil War and Tennessee’s Radical Army: The State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867–1869

“No such army since the days of Julius Caesar”

“No such army since the days of Julius Caesar,” Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, March 1865, by Mark A. Smith and Wade Sokolosky (Savas Beatie, 2017).

Reviewed by David Lady, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

When first published in 2006, this book was almost the sole recent battlefield study of the Carolinas Campaign and has long been out-of-print. However, it remains the only tactical-level account of the Battle of Averasboro. This reprint contains excellent new maps, newer photos, a battlefield driving tour guide, and additional appendixes concerning including one concerning “The Lost Gunner’s Quadrant.” Savas Beatie publishers have created a more useful and attractive volume, aimed at the general as well as the specialist reader.

Both Mark Smith and Wade Sokolosky were career Army officers, now retired and continuing their research into the events of the Carolinas Campaign. Well regarded as writers and battlefield tour guides, another of their collaborations is “To Prepare for Sherman’s Coming, The Battle of Wise’s Forks, March 1865,” which is also a Savas Beatie publication.

The title of this reprint quotes Joseph Johnston, who marveled at the agility and endurance of Sherman’s men as they rapidly marched from Savannah through South Carolina in February and March, 1865. The Federal Army successfully negotiated the twenty-two miles of thick swamp and rainfall-flooded streams of the Salkehatchie River basin, advancing between two Confederate armies to race through central South Carolina. Corduroying roads to permit their wagons to keep pace, Sherman’s men continued to forage liberally and destroy public property; as in the March to the Sea, they left ruined cities and a devastated civilian population in their wake.

Solokosky and Smith begin their narrative as Sherman’s men entered North Carolina and approach the city and arsenal of Fayetteville on the Cape Fear River. Opposing the Federals was an outnumbered force of veteran infantry and recently evacuated coastal garrison artillerists under General William Hardee. He was operating under General Johnston’s orders to delay the Federal march and allow the Confederates time to gather their scattered forces for a counterattack against Sherman. Hardee realized that he’d not enough men or cannon to hold all bridges or crossing sites along the Cape Fear. He also suspected that Sherman’s men were marching on the fortified Federal-held river port of Goldsboro. Abandoning the river line but risking a battle, Hardee chose as his position a “choke point,” along the one route that Sherman’s men would be restricted to by adverse terrain once across the Cape Fear River. To block the narrowest point along this route the Confederates fortified three lines of defense, one behind the other, from which to oppose the Federals.

The Confederate general succeeded in delaying the Federals for an entire day and then retreated after dark from the final of the three positions. While Sherman’s men successfully seized the first two positions without heavy casualties, they were stymied by the swampy terrain fronting the third Confederate position, and unable to outflank it because of a deep ravine on one flank and deep woods on the other.

The authors point out that Hardee correctly divined Federal intentions and carefully adjusted his defense to best employ his largely untried and ill-equipped army. While I think that the author’s speculation that Hardee designed his battle plan with the Revolutionary Battle of Cowpens in mind is overemphasized, they clearly show that Averasboro was one of William Hardee’s better-fought battles. While Sherman’s armies were not seriously hurt, they were delayed long enough for Joe Johnston to organize enough of an army to attack the Federals at Bentonville as they continued to march toward Goldsboro.

In addition to their well-reasoned narrative, the authors also include a number of interesting appendixes devoted to Sherman’s logistic concept for the march through the Carolinas, the Averasboro Field Hospitals, and the experience of doctors and civilians providing medical treatment for wounded soldiers following the battle. Finally, the driving tour guide is clear and well-illustrated, permitting a complete review of the modern battlefield by both readers and the battlefield tour participants. This book is recommended to all readers interested in “Uncle Billy” Sherman, “Old Reliable” Hardee, and the Civil War in North Carolina.

All the Fighting They Want

All the Fighting They Want: the Atlanta Campaign from Peachtree Creek to the City’s Surrender, July 18 – September 2, 1864, by Stephen Davis

Review by John Mason, Tennessee Valley Civil War Roundtable

Stephen Davis is a well-known historian of things American Civil War, especially as they pertain to the Atlanta Campaign.  Learning his craft under the tutelage of the late, great historian Bell Irvin Wiley, Dr. Davis has brought this campaign to life in a number of works including Atlanta Will Fall: Sherman, Joe Johnston, and the Yankee Heavy Battalions (2001), and the companion to this book, A Long and Bloody Task: the Atlanta Campaign from Dalton through Kennesaw Mountain to the Chattahoochee River, May 5 – July 18, 1864 (2016).

This book is one in a series of works comprising the Emerging Civil War Series, published by Savas Beatie LLC, that, according to its website, “offers compelling and easy-to-read overviews of some of the Civil War’s most important battles and issues.”  What they are creating is a new, public platform for historical discourse, aimed at a new generation of historians.  While Dr. Davis does not belong to that generation necessarily, the effort – indeed, any effort to create new interest in America’s seminal event – is well warranted.  These works (currently, if my count is correct, there are 18!) examine various aspects of our favorite war with fresh new eyes.  The results, if this book is any indication, provide concise but thorough evaluations of battles and men that give the reader both the flavor of the subject as well as the taste to learn more.  In that, they are a success.

Should the reader desire, there is any number of books in the historiography of the Atlanta Campaign available for study.  In my opinion, the holy grail of these is Albert Castel’s Decision in the West: the Atlanta Campaign of 1864.  But of equal value are William Scaife’s The Campaign for Atlanta, Richard McMurry’s Atlanta 1864: Last Chance for the Confederacy, and, of course, the aforementioned works by Dr. Davis.  Believe me when I say that if you want to learn about this campaign that did so much to end the war, there are materials aplenty to help you in your search.

But let this book be your starting point.  Dr. Davis has done a great job of discussing the strategy and tactics of the endgame at Atlanta that makes it easy to read and easy to follow.  He seldom goes below Divisions when explaining the tactics of each engagement so the reader does not have to keep up with the movements and counter-movements of untold regiments that sometimes make the larger histories cumbersome.  And he provides plenty of maps, pictures, and markers to help the reader keep everything straight.  After telling the story, Dr. Davis even points the reader in the direction of learning more with instructions for a detailed driving tour of Atlanta, including all the monuments in and around the city, and hints of the tangible history that awaits at the Atlanta History Center and at the Cyclorama.  And finally, he even lays out the complete Union and Confederate Orders of Battle so the reader has a place to go to find his or her favorite regiment.

One of my favorite points of discussion here was of the tactics employed by the commanding generals.  Most of the histories talk of how Sherman maneuvered the Confederacy out of Atlanta, aided in the end by the wild frontal assaults of his opponent, John Bell Hood.  Dr. Davis points out that even though he maneuvered Joseph Johnston out of Georgia (and out of a job!), on five occasions (Resaca, New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, Kennesaw Mountain, and Utoy Creek) during the campaign, Sherman ordered frontal assaults on entrenched positions.  All were repulsed.  Hood, on the other hand, cast as a General who knew only how to attack, continually envisioned getting his army on Sherman’s flanks.  For a number of reasons, this didn’t happen, but as Dr. Davis says, “After a century and a half, the literature has yet to catch up on this point.”

How important was the Atlanta Campaign?  Mary Boykin Chestnut put it this way: “These stories of our defeats in the Valley (Shenandoah Valley where Sheridan had defeated Early) fall like blows on a dead body.  Since Atlanta, I have felt as if all were dead within me, forever.”  Again, Dr. Davis sums it up best.

“History is what it is.  The best we in today’s armchair can conclude is that the North won the American Civil War, and that General William T. Sherman’s capture of Atlanta was a signal event contributing to Union victory.”

Learn about that event here.  If you’ve always wanted to know more about how Atlanta was “fairly won”, but thought you didn’t have the time to read the big books or visit the city, the All the Fighting They Want is the book for you.  And you just may find that you have the time for more after all.


Lincoln’s Greatest Journey

Lincoln’s Greatest Journey – Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24-April 8, 1865 by Noah Andre Trudeau

Review by Ricardo Jaramillo, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

This is a must-read book and a plus for a devout Lincoln follower’s library.

The author states that new learnings will arise by the reader. New in the sense that of the 16,000 volumes of Lincoln writings have not yet been presented. While this reviewer has not read all these volumes, it is apparent that the author succeeded in providing something new for this reviewer. He did so in a manner befitting great philosophers and the best of authors. He weaved a story told before with interjections of numerous small, yet significant, details not previously published. These small details evolved into a greater story that leads this reviewer to not be able to stop reading. Trudeau’s title, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey, is reminiscent of how he planned to autonomously tell this great story like never previously told.

Writings by other authors tell of Lincoln’s mental political prowess and even detailing many mundane facts in a chronological order. Detailing numerous facts in this manner leads to the reader skipping through much of previously written books and arriving at no new conclusions. Trudeau, on the other hand, interlaces personal character details and additions of period-related elements, that as chronological writing, the reader is enticed to continue reading in earnest interest. This is what this reviewer attest to: If you skip pages in this book, you might just have missed a great part of this story.

Trudeau laments on how Lincoln’s state of mind was not at its peak prior to March 24, 1865. He builds his case that Lincoln was a greater American leader because of this 16-day journey. Trudeau also draws a picture of Lincoln’s personal growth unlike any other author has done so before this writing. Trudeau accomplished this through his thorough research and event discounting old documents and previous writings.

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