Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2011 - 7/31/2011

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

The Ends of the War: Rethinking America's Reconstruction

FAIN: FT-59048-11

Gregory Patterson Downs
Regents of the University of California, Davis (New York, NY 10031-9101)

In this book project, I examine American Reconstruction as a problem of occupation. While most scholars blame a combination of racism, free-labor ideology, and fear of lower-class uprisings for the failure of Reconstruction, these explanations take for granted the question I ask in this project: Did the post-war American state possess the capacity to reconstruct authority on the ground? Instead of locating the flaws of Reconstruction in contested areas of voting rights and economic policies, I find them instead in the broad, initially uncontroversial consensus to demobilize the massive Union military, reduce expenses, and dispatch what few soldiers remained to Mexico. Failing to appreciate the challenges of establishing legitimacy during occupation, Union leaders across partisan divides believed that democracy would create its own stability. Instead the lack of force on the ground limited the ability to impose a new order.