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Declarations of Dependence: The Long Reconstruction of Popular Politics in the South, 1861-1908 (Hardback)
  • Declarations of Dependence: The Long Reconstruction of Popular Politics in the South, 1861-1908 (Hardback)
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Declarations of Dependence: The Long Reconstruction of Popular Politics in the South, 1861-1908 (Hardback)

(author)
£44.95
Hardback 360 Pages / Published: 28/02/2011
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In this highly original study, Gregory Downs argues that the most American of wars, the Civil War, created a seemingly un-American popular politics, rooted not in independence but in voluntary claims of dependence. Through an examination of the pleas and petitions of ordinary North Carolinians, Declarations of Dependence contends that the Civil War redirected, not destroyed, claims of dependence by exposing North Carolinians to the expansive but unsystematic power of Union and Confederate governments, and by loosening the legal ties that bound them to husbands, fathers, and masters. Faced with anarchy during the long reconstruction of government authority, people turned fervently to the government for protection and sustenance, pleading in fantastic, intimate ways for attention. This personalistic, or what Downs calls patronal, politics allowed for appeals from subordinate groups like freed blacks and poor whites, and also bound people emotionally to newly expanding postwar states. Downs's argument rewrites the history of the relationship between Americans and their governments, showing the deep roots of dependence, the complex impact of the Civil War upon popular politics, and the powerful role of Progressivism and segregation in submerging a politics of dependence that--in new form--rose again in the New Deal and persists today. |Through an examination of the pleas and petitions of ordinary North Carolinians, Downs contends that the Civil War redirected, not destroyed, claims of dependence by exposing North Carolinians to the expansive but unsystematic power of Union and Confederate governments, and by loosening the legal ties that bound them to husbands, fathers, and masters.

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 9780807834442
Number of pages: 360
Weight: 658 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 33 mm
Edition: New edition


MEDIA REVIEWS
Downs tackles important questions and his book is a rare achievement -- well written, deeply researched, and thought-provoking.--Journal of the Civil War Era


[Down's] interpretations can help historians better appreciate the nuanced, paradoxical ways in which individuals attempted to advance their interests using the language of dependence.--American Historical Review


A novel perspective on the interaction between citizens and their state government.--Journal of American History


Thought-provoking. . . . [an] ambitious, deeply-researched study.--Journal of Southern History


Declarations of Dependence is provocative and enlightening . . . An intellectual tour de force. --Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era


Well-written, with an occasional humorous turn of phrase and also display of literary insights.--Civil War Book Review


A masterful scholarly text brimming with insightful new arguments.--Southern Historian


Downs challenges scholars to revisit several long-standing myths about American political culture. . . . Elegantly written and persuasively argued.--Florida Historical Quarterly


An important new way of conceiving of how power worked in the late nineteenth century. . . . The best kind of book.--H-Net Reviews


Any serious student of U.S. history during the half-century following the outbreak of the Civil War would be well advised to read this well-written study based on original sources in North Carolina's extensive state archives.--The Historian


A useful corrective for certain assumptions about both the historical and contemporary character of American political culture.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History


Declarations of Dependence ultimately offers an analysis of postbellum politics sure to inspire scholars to reconsider the meaning of independence and dependence in political cultures elsewhere in the region during this era.--Register of The Kentucky Historical Society

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