The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

Did anyone experience any doubt as to who had won and who had lost?

Not in the immediate aftermath. From 1865 until about 1877, it was abundantly clear that the North had won and that the Union was preserved. But after roughly 1877, some people, especially blacks, began to ask whether the war had indeed been won so far as emancipation was concerned.

These doubts were raised by the resurgence of white supremacy in the former Confederate states. Virtually all of those states were prostrate when the war ended and could not resist the efforts of the North to impose new voting requirements and systems in the South. But within seven or eight years, most of the former Confederate states began to emerge from their devastated condition, and the white populations of those states began to discover ways to deprive the recently freed African Americans from exercising their right to vote. Of course it was an uneven process, with blacks faring better in some states than others, but by 1877—the year the last federal troops were withdrawn from the military districts in the South—the former Confederate states were well on their way to instituting white supremacy.


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