Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Divided States of America: Conflict and the Course of American History

Americans have often wanted to believe they are propelled toward common goals by a shared set of ideals. In fact, they have struggled to find agreement on even the most basic principles of how their society ought to be ordered. They have argued, fought, and died over questions of citizenship, racial hierarchy, and the control of labor. Americans distilled these intersecting problems into their most potent form in the eruptions of violence and social revolution accompanying the Civil War in the nineteenth century and the Black freedom struggle in the twentieth century. The latter era roiled with echoes of questions asked but not satisfactorily answered in the former. Who counted as a citizen, and would all citizens be equal in practice? Would the United States continue to be a White supremacist republic? Who would have the power to deploy labor and enjoy its fruits? Examining the Civil War and civil rights revolution as periods in which these interrelated queries became intensely contested reveals both change and continuity across time.

This article offers a sketch of American history with conflict in the starring role. The problems of citizenship, racial hierarchy, and labor control were the fields on which this conflict was concentrated. Yet consensus is more than a bit player in this story. As competing visions of social order clashed, the idea of consensus exerted a strong pull on the American imagination. The very intensity of conflict brought forth concerted campaigns for consensus at crucial moments. In the aftermath of social revolutions, many Americans longed to believe that what bound them together was greater than the forces pulling them apart. Thus the article concludes with an argument for a conflict and consensus model as a way to understand the ebb and flow of the American experience across time. Rather than casting these two possibilities as opposites in contradiction to each other, this article asserts that they have existed in a dialectical relationship. Periods of conflict produced powerful sentiment for consensus, but such consensus proved unstable, containing within it the seeds of further conflict.
The Civil War Era
The early American republic held together by a fragile settlement giving wide latitude to states to pursue disparate paths. Crises with the potential to tear the Union apart were not so much resolved as skirted or delayed. In every decade of the antebellum era Americans grappled with renewed centrifugal forces that threatened to expose their most basic disagreements and burst the boundaries of their delicate settlement.[1] By the late 1850s, successive controversies had narrowed the room for maneuver and brought the country to the precipice of war. Conflicts over the intertwined meanings of citizenship, labor, and racial hierarchy were central to the war’s causes and conduct, and would be implicated in the contested outcomes the war produced. Finally, in the decades after the war surging reconciliationist sentiment shaped a White supremacist accord that would be fatally undermined by the very people it excluded. 

Right up to the brink of the fateful decision to fire on Fort Sumter, it is conceivable that civil war could have been avoided. The “irrepressible conflict” of William Seward’s imagination was not inevitable.[2] But it is revealing that a statesman such as Steward thought it so. A former anti-slavery Whig from New York who had become a leader in the new Republican Party, Seward embodied the changes that destroyed the antebellum party system. Americans were arguing not because of a failure of political leadership but because they had so much of substance to argue about. The North and South had diverged dramatically in their visions of the ideal society. Increasingly, they came to see the opposing vision as a mortal threat to their own.

During the secession crisis, the Vice-President of the new Confederacy offered the southern corollary to Seward’s “irrepressible conflict.” Alexander Stephens declared that the founders had been wrong when they claimed all men were created equal. “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea,” Stephens said. “Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery…is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”[3] Americans were on the brink of war not because of misunderstanding but because the two sections had incompatible ideas about race, labor, and citizenship.

The fledgling Republican Party Stephens inveighed against had coalesced around a powerful free-labor ideology. Republicans envisioned a society in which the ideal citizen was a free White man who could keep the fruits of his labor and rise on the strength of his own merits. Both the race and gender of this ideal citizen was implicitly assumed if not stated directly. This vision at once naturalized the inequities of northern society and scolded the deficiencies of the South. Slavery represented the antithesis of free-labor ideology. Detestable on its own terms, slavery also degraded the labor of free White men who had the misfortune of being near the institution. Worse, when Republicans looked at the South they saw a grasping, expansionist “slave power” that dominated the Union and bent it toward pro-slavery agenda. Armed with this understanding, Republicans believed the future course of the continent was at stake.[4]

White southern elites found the northern view of labor equally appalling. In their view, the quintessential free and virtuous American was a White man (again, specifically a man) who could control and deploy the labor of racialized others.[5] If the North and South had simply disagreed about what to do with newly acquired western territories their differences might have been resolved. But they both feared that the labor system of the other would engulf the continent. White southern elites shared alike with northerners the assumption that the institution of slavery, if restrained to its current domain, would wither on the vine and die. Consequently, the ambitions of White elites in the South were nothing less than hemispheric. If they had their way, Cuba and Central America would be absorbed as part of “a truly global vision of pro-slavery empire.”[6] Would the Western Hemisphere be a place of upward mobility for small White farmers, or would a slaveholding elite dominate? The attempt of both sides to answer this question in their favor turned the politics of the late 1850s into a zero-sum contest for supremacy between contrasting ideals.[7]

Sojourner Truth
Black people themselves drove this contest to a much greater degree than Whites wanted to admit. Black Americans developed their own politics that challenged the White mainstream in both sections, and by their actions forced their demands into the national debate. Enslaved people escaped to the North in significant numbers throughout the decade (approximately 1000 per year), keeping up a continual drumbeat of resistance that forced White Americans to deal with Black people who confounded their ideological beliefs.[8] Free Black communities heightened tension between North and South by publishing abolitionist literature and launching repeated volleys of anti-South propaganda. African Americans laid claim not only to an abolitionist ethic that challenged the South and did much to bring on the Civil War, but made citizenship claims that unsettled the North and shaped the War’s course.  

Once begun, the Civil War intensified beyond any participant’s ability to control its consequences. Given their ideology, it is not surprising that Confederate elites attempted to establish their nation on a narrow citizenship base—women and slaves did not count as political actors. Even among White men it was hard to maintain the pretense that non-slaveholders had equal citizenship in fact. This narrow, elite-driven project would prove unequal to the rigors of war and revolution.[9] Enslaved people put abolition on the agenda right from the start, and the Republican Party eagerly obliged.[10] Though desire to preserve the Union continued to animate many White Union soldiers more than abolitionist sentiment,[11] most Republicans believed that restoring the Union and crushing the “slave power” were inextricably linked. The war was not the battle between brothers, the unfortunate quarrel, taught to generations of schoolchildren. It was instead a catastrophic conflict to determine the future of a continent.

Yet the war created as many questions as it answered. During Reconstruction Americans bitterly contested the boundaries of citizenship, labor rights, and racial equality. African Americans moved across the southern landscape seeking better opportunities for their labor and the reestablishment of family ties slavery had broken. White southerners perceived such Black mobility as deeply threatening in both economic and social terms. As one White southerner wrote to the Governor of South Carolina, “this question of the control of labor underlies every other question of state interest.”[12] Southern states’ attempts in the immediate aftermath of the war to impose Black Codes to control African American labor enraged Republicans and helped provoke
Black legislators in Virginia during Reconstruction.
the onset of Radical Reconstruction.[13] The passage of the 14th and 15th amendments represented nothing less than a constitutional revolution as Republicans established new rights of citizenship and voting without regard to race. The majority of White southerners never accepted the legitimacy of the new constitutional order. Rampant terrorism and political violence ensued. Finally, every reconstruction government in the southern states fell to so-called “redeemers” eager to reassert White supremacy. President Hayes meekly admitted, “The people will not now sustain the policy of upholding a State Government against a rival government, by the use of the forces of the United States. If this leads to the overthrow of the de jure government in a State, the de facto government must be recognized.”[14]

Heavily armed White militias launch a successful coup against
the interracial government of Wilmington, NC. 1898.
How had the righteous zeal of Reconstruction declined to the point that the President of the United States claimed helplessness in the face of military coups? The northern retreat from Reconstruction involved not just an effort to find some common ground with White southerners; it reflected the real fear that pressing sectional disagreements to their breaking point could provoke civil war anew.[15] Beneath the violence of Reconstruction, there had always been grounds on which White Americans might come to a settlement. For one, northern anti-slavery sentiment had never implied a broad-based preference for social equality or equal citizenship across racial lines.[16] In this sense, the Reconstruction amendments demanded of the South something that many northerners did not even want for themselves. Moreover, the desire of southern White elites to control Black labor aligned nicely with northern business interests seeking to invest capital in the South and return the region to its antebellum status as the nation’s dominant exporter of raw materials. And Republican free labor ideology, with its romanticization of sturdy individual farmers coupled with anxiety about the dangers of dependence on federal aid, made northern officials reluctant to pursue land reform or other means of robust support for freedpeople. Instead, all too often Freedman’s Bureau agents helped facilitate onerous labor contracts between Black workers and White landowners.[17] In the decades after the Civil War, Republicans increasingly retreated on questions of citizenship and labor, professing to believe that if only African Americans retained their access to the ballot they would be able to use the vote to assert their other rights. But by the turn of the century, in most places African Americans lacked even that.
The war remembered. Veterans at Gettysburg, 1913.

The war as it was. Body parts in open field at Gaines Mill.
This narrowed vision helped pave the way for a national White consensus. In the aftermath of Reconstruction’s failure, northern Whites would give southern Whites a wide berth to solve their “race problem” and in return White southerners would rededicate themselves to the national union. A strong reconciliationist impulse hastened the accord as White Americans came to remember the war as a tragic battle between two noble sections fighting for high ideals. As they honored their dead, they buried their old quarrels with them and looked forward to a new day of national greatness.[18] Doggedly pushing against this sentiment, Frederick Douglass knew that all the dead were not alike. “Death has no power to change moral qualities,” he maintained. He vowed to always remember the difference “between those who fought for liberty and those who fought for slavery.”[19]

The dominant narrative cast Douglass’s emancipationist remembrance to the fringe, leaving little room for African Americans in the nation’s story of reconciliation. At the turn of the century fully ninety percent of Blacks remained in the South, the vast majority poor and landless, rendered invisible in national debates. Indeed, racism had become more “deeply embedded in the nation’s culture and politics than at any time since the beginning of the antislavery crusade.”[20] It was not at all obvious the southern demagogue Ben Tillman was wrong when he stood on the Senate floor and declared, “We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot [Blacks]. We are not ashamed of it. The Senator from Wisconsin would have done the same thing. I see it in his eye right now.”[21] Pervasive racism seemed to provide the glue of a durable consensus in American life. White supremacy would reign nationwide, Blacks and other racial minorities would constitute laboring classes, and the practical rewards of citizenship would accrue to Whites while remaining paper promises for people of color. Yet the consensus was more fragile than it at first appeared. It depended upon the continued restriction of Black mobility and Black labor in the South. And it depended upon Black demands remaining invisible and politically inert. It rested, too, on a gendered hierarchy that Black women began to upset even as Black men were systematically disfranchised.[22] As events would prove, none of these conditions were stable. Black people, more than anyone, made sure of that.

The Black Freedom Movement

The civil rights movement era has been popularly understood as an integrationist narrative in which respectable African Americans sought inclusion as full citizens of the nation. African Americans won the battle for equal citizenship by tearing down Jim Crow, in the process gaining access to the ballot and public places. This interpretation is implied in the name ascribed to the period: the civil rights movement. Such a narrative downplays the radical nature of Black demands and the extent of the conflict rending American society during these years. For African Americans sought not only a narrow vision of political rights, but a broader sense of freedom that put issues of labor at the very center. Equal citizenship and the eradication of White supremacy would mean not only the right to vote and integrate a lunch counter, but the right to a decent job at a fair wage. The African American struggle for freedom thus did not call forth an easy consensus from which only backward southern bigots dissented. It represented instead a frontal assault on ideals that many White Americans in both the North and South held dear. From Communist and other leftist radicals in the 1930s to the March on Washington Movement of World War Two, from local battles to force cities and states to pass Fair Employment Practices laws to scuffles over affirmative action in the 1970s and beyond, Black activists refused to decouple the interconnected problems of labor, citizenship, and White supremacy.[23]

The more triumphal civil rights narrative of popular memory has deep roots. Gunnar Myrdal’s massive and influential 1944 book, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and American Democracy argued that Americans of all backgrounds shared a broad consensus—a set of ideals Myrdal called “the American Creed.” In their hearts, Americans believed in freedom and justice for all. The treatment of African Americans represented not an opposing set of ideals but merely “a century-long lag of public morals.”[24] White Americans had only to live up to their stated ideals and America’s racial problems would be solved. In such a narrative, Black activists and their allies stood for the “American Way” while those who resisted them were backward and reactionary.[25] This dramatically understated the extent of the conflict. If there was an American Creed, Americans held deep disagreements about its contents. As Rogers M. Smith has demonstrated, for most of American history White elites “pervasively and unapologetically structured U.S. citizenship in terms of illiberal and undemocratic racial, ethnic, and gender hierarchies.”[26] The efforts of Black activists to overturn these hierarchies represented not an inevitable culmination of American ideals, but a particular understanding of citizenship with which many other Americans disagreed.

Seen in such a light, the drama of the civil rights era looks different. Resistance to the movement is not sufficiently described with terms such as “backlash.” Black activism provoked a White countermovement that was deliberate, strategic, purposeful, and not confined only to the South.[27] This was so because, as in the nineteenth century, the conflicts dividing Americans in the twentieth century were not incidental—they cut to the heart of disparate understandings of how to order society. Casting opponents of the civil rights movement as “rabid” or absurd obscures both the seriousness and continued relevance of their ideals.[28] In an America so deeply riven by conflict, the Black freedom movement could not win a comprehensive victory.

Leaving the South
But it could crack the old White supremacist consensus wide open. Beginning around World War One, the push of agricultural mechanization and the pull of industrial employment in the urban centers of the North launched a massive African American migration out of the South. Despite discrimination, the North’s burgeoning factories represented economic opportunity for African Americans at the same time the demand for their agricultural labor declined. By 1930 there were almost a million tractors on the nation’s farms.[29] The migration slowed during the 1920s and 1930s before reaching its height during and after World War Two. The migration undercut the nation’s White supremacist consensus in at least two ways. In the South, it again raised the specter of Black mobility and the fragility of White labor control that ostensibly had been settled with the defeat of Reconstruction. For African Americans not only moved out of the South; they moved to urban centers within the South. In these spaces Black Americans were more likely to be able to vote and find a modicum of economic success. And in the North, where discrimination was pervasive but voting rights relatively secure, African Americans turned themselves into a key political constituency that northern representatives ignored at their peril.

New arrivals in Chicago.
As a result, for the first time since Reconstruction Black Americans succeeded in putting their concerns on the national political agenda. In 1937 the House of Representatives passed an anti-lynching bill. Though blocked in the Senate, it was a portent of things to come.[30] Of more vital long-term importance were sweeping changes in labor relations. The number of unionized Black workers soared during the Great Migration decades. Despite the discrimination they faced in their working class jobs, the opening up of unions to African Americans combined with the pro-labor New Deal state “generated a kind of industrial citizenship” that was a marked improvement over the old order.[31] And African Americans were not content to leave that newfound citizenship on the shop floor. Many embraced a “civil rights unionism” that insisted on both economic and political rights in the workplace and beyond.[32]

The Second World War proved to be a watershed in Black Americans’ struggle for freedom. Belying popular memories of the war bathed in nostalgia, African Americans aggressively used the global conflict as an opportunity to make demands upon the nation. The Pittsburgh Courier launched a “Double V Campaign,” demanding victory against fascism both at home and abroad. Membership in the NAACP soared. And as the Great Migration intensified to an unprecedented size, African Americans demanded equal treatment in the federally-financed factories churning out war material. A. Philip Randolph led the March on Washington Movement, threatening President Roosevelt with the prospect of tens of thousands of African Americans
descending on the nation’s capital. Such a possibility so frightened White elites that Roosevelt yielded and signed an executive order banning employment discrimination among federal defense contractors.[33] Thus the forerunner of the more famous March on Washington sought economic rights rather than narrowly political ones. Though the later 1963 march would stand as a hallmark in the popular remembrance of an integrationist consensus, it too demanded jobs and challenged the structure of the American economy.  
In the aftermath of World War Two, as Black migrants continued to move into northern cities, there were increasing signs that they were boarding sinking ships. Despite Roosevelt’s executive order and the passage of many poorly enforced state Fair Employment Practice laws, employment discrimination remained pervasive. Moreover, the growing phenomenon of White flight represented not only the movement of White people out of city centers, but an accompanying flight of capital, business investment, and government services. Well before the heyday of globalization, jobs began leaving the very places African Americans sought the promise of economic opportunity.[34] This was crucial to the course of the Black freedom struggle. As White Americans retreated to
new suburban spaces of racial privilege, they rendered the economic suffering of African Americans invisible or naturalized while speciously attributing their own success to market forces and hard work.[35] This put consensus far out of reach by the time the conflagrations of the 1960s exploded. For the world of economic decay from which Black demands emerged and the world of subsidized advantage in which Whites heard those demands had become dramatically disconnected. When Black Americans linked the structure of the nation’s labor markets to a broader language of freedom and rights, many White Americans perceived this as un-American special pleading. By 1963, in a city such as Philadelphia, building trades unions featured one African American among their 7,300 members.[36] For Black Americans such statistics represented an effective denial of equal citizenship; for many Whites they represented the just rewards of hard work.   

Such a fundamental disconnect did not prevent the deployment of consensus as an idea to obstruct Black progress. In a pattern repeated in many cities, the White elite of Greensboro, North Carolina, embraced a kind of civic boosterism that asserted their city had good “race relations” and that everyone, Black and White, moved forward together in a spirit of mutual progress. They saw Greensboro as a forward-thinking city where reasonable people could talk through their differences and achieve voluntary consensus. Paternalism figured prominently in this vision, but at bottom White elites embraced a particular sense of civility, what William Chafe has called “a way of dealing with people and problems that made good manners more important than substantial action.”[37] When Black residents in Greensboro and elsewhere resorted to street protest to break through this false vision of consensus, Whites usually responded with confusion and resentment.[38]

Though the 1964 Civil Rights Act banned employment discrimination and established an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, many Black activists sought more aggressive action to make the promise of economic opportunity real for African Americans in the face of persistent labor market exclusion. In this context affirmative action emerged. The American economy exemplified and reproduced racial inequality; only by taking deliberate ameliorative action, many thought, could a more equal playing field emerge. Many White Americans who failed to reckon with the radical nature of the Black Freedom Movement would come to see affirmative action as a sad departure from the supposedly colorblind ideals of the civil rights movement.[39]

In the closing decades of the twentieth century, colorblindness emerged not only as a legal strategy to roll back the institutional gains of the Black freedom movement. It also represented a broader cultural shift as White Americans rejected assumptions of racial supremacy and began to believe that racial harmony was in reach if only people would stop highlighting race and focus instead on Americans’ shared values. This contemporary consensus differed significantly from that of a century ago. Then, White Americans came together in a common repudiation of Reconstruction. They saw it as an obvious failure. In the aftermath of the Second Reconstruction, the popular narrative celebrated the civil rights movement as a great victory of which all Americans could be proud. Yet this consensus, too, was unstable, for it relied upon a simplistic tale that obscured the scale of the conflict that occurred and the extent to which it remained unresolved.[40] In an echo of the silencing of the emancipationist memory of the Civil War, the contemporary consensus attempted to impose silence on racial matters even as forces that reproduced racial inequality persisted. This consensus, always more contested than its devotees would like to believe, may even now be crumbling. For the problems of citizenship, racial hierarchy, and labor control are still with us today in new and contingent forms.

Conflict and Consensus as a Model for Teaching American History
The forgoing narrative has tried to demonstrate not only the central role of conflict in American history, but the complex interplay between moments of conflict and consensus. Though this sketch focused on the civil war and the civil rights movement and their attendant questions of race, labor, and citizenship, this model can be fruitfully applied to other subjects and eras in American history. For example, a broader story of the ebb and flow of conflict between labor and capital could be told through this lens, adding nuance to the narrative sketched here. After all, the very decades in which America’s White supremacist consensus seemed strongest were years of enormous labor strife. Even as Jim Crow consolidated and African Americans became a sharecropping class, the dramas of Haymarket, Pullman, and Lawrence showed that the place of labor in American life was far from settled. Why did one arena of conflict become relatively quiescent while another flared, and what is the relationship between them? In labor history intense conflict eventually resolved into an uneasy stalemate: the famous labor-capital mid-century consensus. That historians are now inclined to dismiss this accord as largely illusory does not negate the hold the idea of such a consensus had on American elites during the Cold War.[41]

A conflict and consensus model can also serve as a useful framing device for foreign policy. Though Americans have often wanted to believe that politics stops at the waters’ edge, issues of war and diplomacy have repeatedly divided them. From the Embargo Act of the Jefferson administration to the war in Iraq, U.S. foreign policy has revealed deep fault lines at home. Yet the idea of a strong and unified United States in its posture toward the world has been a recurring theme in American history. From revolutionary narratives that obscured the magnitude of loyalist sentiment, to contemporary nostalgia for World War Two as a time when Americans ostensibly acted in unison in the “good war,” stories of consensus have been much more popular than stories of conflict.

Aspects of colonial history could be explored through this frame as well. The “middle ground” of the pays d’en haut and the “zones of interaction” of the Spanish borderlands represent intense spaces of conflict in which no culture could fully impose its will.[42] The resulting amalgam of practices was something distinctly new, born of conflict. In the late colonial and revolutionary era, the profound differences between the reality of messy intercolonial conflict and subsequent remembrance of a supposedly united citizenry offer a useful opportunity to teach students about the exigencies of historical memory.

Precisely because conflict has been so pervasive in American history and has often seemed ready to tear apart the national fabric, drives for consensus have at times taken center stage. The progressive era can be read as one such time. Zealous reformers with the hubris to “remake the nation’s feuding, polyglot population in their own middle-class image” were, in a sense, engaged in a manic campaign for consensus.[43] Similarly, the “100 percent Americanism” phenomenon during the Great War reflected hope for national unity, but its ugly and violent undertones just as surely indicated Americans’ fear that no such unity existed.[44] Americans did not conjure these concerns out of thin air. Mass immigration to the United States did create conflicts, both economic and cultural.[45] It is the severity of those conflicts that helps to explain the urgency with which some Americans embraced progressive reforms and nativist fears.

As with any model, there is a danger of trying to shoehorn disparate events and processes into the boundaries of its framework. But as a teaching device, such a model has real utility. It can bring coherence to a survey of American history while remaining open to the complexity of the past. Indeed, it is the malleability of the model that makes it useful. It describes processes more than subjects, allowing any number of themes—from gender to religion to diplomacy—to be explored through its lens. Yet the flipside of the model’s malleability presents a second danger: terms such as conflict and consensus are not specific and may lack analytical rigor. This problem is not insurmountable. Using specific historical examples and precisely describing the nature of the conflicts can alleviate much of this concern.

Conflict has propelled American history forward. Repeated clashes of diverse peoples and cultures have produced the contested results that often appear to contemporary Americans as natural. The institutions and practices Americans take for granted did not arrive on the wings of inevitability. Still less are they the result of an amorphous national character. They emerged, instead, as contingent outcomes of grueling dissension and discord in specific historical contexts. Yet the promise of consensus speaks to a persistent motif Americans have often wanted to believe: that the values binding them together are greater than the forces driving them apart. From the constitutional convention to the election of a Black President, the American people—raucous, feuding, and fractious—have wanted to believe they are building the United States of America.

[1] Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (New York: Norton, 2013); Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); Joel H. Silbey, Storm Over Texas: The Annexation Controversy and the Road to the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
[2] Quoted in James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 198.
[3] Quoted in McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 245.
[4] Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).
[5] Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001). Johnson explores how the ownership of  human beings was central to the very identity of southern elites.
[6] Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), 15.
[7] Robert E. May, Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
[8]Steven Hahn, A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 1-16.
[9] Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).
[10] James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014).
[11] Gary W. Gallagher, The Union War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011).
[12] Quoted in Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 198.
[13] Foner, Reconstruction, 199-244.
[14] Quoted in Charles W. Calhoun, Conceiving a New Republic: The Republican Party and the Southern Question, 1869-1900 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas), 140.
[15] Mark Wahlgren Summers, A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).
[16] For example, in the 1850s some northern states passed laws forbidding entry to any Black person. See McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 88. The persistent popularity of colonization schemes also attested to northern Whites’ inability to conceive of an interracial democracy with equal citizenship for all.
[17] Paul A. Cimbala, Under the Guardianship of the Nation: The Freedmen’s Bureau and the Reconstruction of Georgia, 1865-1870 (Athens: The University Press of Georgia, 1997), 84. See also Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), xiii-xv.
[18] David Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).
[19] Quoted in Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (New York: Knopf, 2008), 269.
[20] Foner, Reconstruction, 604.
[21] Quoted in Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963), 279.
[22] Glenda Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
[23] Glenda Gilmore, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008); Nancy MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006). 
[24] Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and American Democracy (New York:
Harper & Row, 1962, originally published 1944), 3-25.
[25] Wendy L. Wall, Inventing the “American Way”: The Politics of Consensus from the New Deal to the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
[26] Rogers M. Smith, Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1997), 1.
[27] Jason Morgan Ward, Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the
Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Keith M. Finley, Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight against Civil Rights, 1938-1965 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008); MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough, 225-261; Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).
[28] For an example of such trivializing language see the otherwise excellent Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (New York: Knopf, 2010), 122.
[29] David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press 1999), 17.
[30] Finley, Delaying the Dream, 15-55.
[31] Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 83.
[32] Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” The Journal of American History 91 (2005): 1245-1246.
[33] Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 763-768.
[34] Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).
[35] David Freund, Colored Property: State Policy & White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
[36] Matthew J. Countryman, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).
[37] William H. Chafe, Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 8.
[38] Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975 (New York: Knopf, 2006).  
[39] MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough.
[40] Renee C. Romano and Leigh Raiford, eds., The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006).
[41] Jefferson Cowie, Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor (New York: New Press, 2001), 5-6; Wall, Inventing the “American Way”.
[42]Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), x; David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 11.
[43] Michael McGerr, A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870—1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), xiv.
[44] David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 67-69.
[45] Herbert Gutman, “Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919,” in Gutman, Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919 (New York: Vintage, 1977), 3-79.

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