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American Civil War Era (Spring 2002)

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05:45 PM ET (US)
How civil rights black leaders like Martin Luther King effect our lives today?
Rusty Lee
03:35 PM ET (US)
Thanks for the trimester guys. It was a treat. Signing out.....Rusty.
Lloyd BensonPerson was signed in when posted
10:12 AM ET (US)
Today's presentation pages can be found at (
Lloyd BensonPerson was signed in when posted
09:54 AM ET (US)
Directions to the Study Session
Home Phone: 828.859.2256
Cell Phone: 828.817.4400

We will be expecting you about 1:00 p.m. Although the weather is a little cool, we do have a pool and you are welcome to bring swimsuits along with your notebooks and appetites. We will have at least one non-cheese pizza for healthy eaters, and a couple of non-meat pizzas for you veggies.

How to get there:

Leave Furman North out of the front gate, up U.S. 25 toward Traveler's Rest and Asheville. Stay on 25 approximately 10-15 minutes, until you reach S.C. Highway 11. (You will see the overpass for the highway before you get to the turn. Turn right (east) onto 11, and head towards Gowansville.

Stay on 11 for about 20 minutes, until you get to the blinking red light in Gowensville. (Look for the new Sphinx gas station at the intersection. Turn left (northeast) onto highway 14, heading toward Landrum.

About 2 to 3 miles after the intersection, at the top of the second big hill, look for Blackstock road. There will be a church on the right. (if you miss this, just continue into Landrum and follow the same directions below). Take Blackstock left(north) until it ends, about 2 miles.

Turn left (northwest) on U.S. 176. Signs will point to Tryon.

Follow 176 into Tryon, approx. 3-5 minutes. Look for the IGA on the left, and Side Street Pizza on the right. Turn right, *immediately* after crossing the railroad tracks after Side Street. This will be New Market Road. If you passed the theatre you went to far.

Take New Market up the hill to the second street on the right. Turn right on "Broadway."


Our house is the sixth house on the left. Look for the copper mailbox. The house is yellow with blue trim. Big roof, big columns.

Park in our parking lot or on the street.
Edited 05-22-2002 02:48 PM
Shannon Roe
02:25 PM ET (US)
Today was a little frustrating for me in the sense that, for a book that I enjoyed and thought gave me a lot to think about, I felt like I had remarkably little to say when it came time to fishbowl in class. Reading through the book, I guess I was having big time state and regional identity issues, since the Kentucky chapter turned out to be such a pleasant one. Of course my initial reaction to the portayal was, "oh great, we are not all big hicks . . . " (well, you get the idea), but I really wanted that not to be my initial gut reaction. I wondered if it was just a personal thing that I was so stuck on that chapter, as a particularly memorable one, but I was glad to see in class today that it didn't seem quite to be that way, since a lot of people mentioned that chapter. In closer scrutiny, I guess what I would have to say is that, while I wouldn't want to ever imagine something like the shooting happening, I can see how it could, in lots of places in KY (and probably lots of other places . . . as I got from what James had to say about Eastern NC, and other places). As far as people legitimizing their claim to the flag and what it means to them, I have often felt like KY and rural southern OH (yes, OH, that's even a "northern" state I'm talking about here) are two of the worst places, because unlike the "Cats of the Confederacy" or other groups in Horowitz's journey, their actions in putting out the flag, and what they say and do as far as beliefs very rarely seem to give though to one another, as the wife kept saying in the KY chapter, "it just made his truck look sharp." Most people in KY who are carrying around "their X" aren't doing so because they have 10 CS Veteran relatives way back in their family; I've had a lot of interesting convesations with my mom since I've been at Furman, because the concept of "old money" and lineage that people can be so concerned with down here don't even exist in eastern KY--there's coal money maybe, but not old money(Lexington and Louisville are another story, but I can guarentee Todd County is not a hotbed of generational confederate rememberers, as I think we all got from the striking portrayal of the people there . . . ). Compounding this miscommunication, then, is the fact that, unlike the AL and Miss. chapters, I don't think a lot of people are used to growing up racially separate, and it hasn't been my experience that people in the border state from which I hail separate themselves along racial lines in most any circumstances. So, like the kids who did the shooting, those who should be most offended by portrayals of the flag (and whatever it "represents") grow up right beside those who later take it on, and there is little or no communication about just how different those portrayals are, which leads to the sort of downward spiral which ended up with the shooting, I guess.

One other comment--when Dr. Benson mentioned today that Horowitz has been criticized, among other things, for his portrayal of the Kentucky section of the story, I have to wonder where exactly those criticisms came from. It was not my attempt to be one of those people who's gut reaction is to say "that's not what we really look like" when maybe some things an outside observer sees might be more true than we'd like to admit . . . however, I do think there's some creedence to the fact that, unlike other parts of the story, such as the crazy guy living in the trailor in Columbia with the cubbyholes of hate group literature, there wasn't much in the KY story to suggest that this could in any way be an isolated incident; that is the kind of criticism I think is more than valid, accusations against a blanket portrayal of a more complex set of associations.

And that's my diatribe for today, which probably wouldn't have been even nearly this concise, had I started in on this vein in class today . . .
Edited 05-21-2002 02:26 PM
Lloyd BensonPerson was signed in when posted
10:10 AM ET (US)
The research strategies and bibliography information for the debate can be found at:

Lloyd BensonPerson was signed in when posted
05:55 PM ET (US)
I have posted some model essay outlines as an answer guide for our most recent exam. Look these over and let me know what questions I can answer as you prepare for the final.

The guide can be found at (
Matt Reagan
03:38 PM ET (US)
It does seem to me that the Redeemers began with good intentions, but we've seen that all too often. Even the most well-intentioned politicians have turned out to be self-seeking. It's the nature of the beast. If Honest Abe couldn't avoid seeking his party interests during the most crucial period of our nation's history, I doubt if some assuredly racist southern Democrats could have held out for long with their anti-corruption stance (note Alex's citation).
     The Jim Crow Laws were clearly a negation of every Reconstruction policy, but the reason they came into effect because the Republican government chose to swing to the other side of the Reconstruction dilemma. Military measures were an outrage to the South and very dangerous to northern men involved. Peace between the regions could only be reached at the expense of the black race. Grant's non-intervention was not necessarily a bad choice; it was simply what he thought was the lesser of two evils.
alex willard
08:27 AM ET (US)
While i agree with Chris that not all politicians are scum sucking parasites i agree with James that it seems like most of the ones talked about in this section definitely were. The "Redeemers" said they wanted to form a govt. that would be aware of, "The interests of both blacks and whites for better government [and] would converge in the election of virtuous southern Democrats"(398). Well this was obviously a lie because as soon as the Redeemers got the least amount of power they started creating laws favoring whites and harming blacks.
Towards the end of the reading Republican Governor Chamberlain made a statement saying that because the government had withdrawn federal troops from the state, the state would be quickly overthrown. Another ex-Republican governor said, "The political death of the Negro will forever release the nation from the weariness of such 'political outbreaks'"(399). I agree with Guelzo that things would calm down for a short while but the stage had been set for another great uprising by the black community later in American history.
Chris Brantingham
01:25 AM ET (US)
I don't really agree with James that it is a common truth that politicians are scum sucking parasites. It's true that the Republicans ended Reconstruction for political power, but I think its worth asking how much longer Reconstruction could have lasted had they not done so. Without that deal a democrat would have taken the presidential seat, and it is unlikely that the democrats would have continued helping the Reconstruction governments, which created a stronger base of support for the Republican party. Reconstruction was dying in any case by the late 1870's, and we shouldn't blame politicians alone for its death, but just realize that it had gone about as far as it could go by that time.

Bearing that in mind, it is still tragic that black civil rights had to degenerate in the south when reconstruction ended and that more wasn't done to safeguard them. It would take a long time for them to get what they fully deserved.
James Cash
12:10 AM ET (US)
Last night's readings illustrate a common truth.... politicans are scum sucking parisites. In a nutshell, Republicans, the "champions" of the black cause in Reconstruction, sold them out for the Presidential seat. I disagree with Mike, in that the black population only got a taste of freedom, which is worse in my opion than laying a "foundation." The civil rights movement began in the 1960s; the movement initiated by the radical republicans teased the blacks with a hint of equality, only to bring them crashing back to the reality that the majority of the country loathed their existence. While Reconstruction began with good intentions, the betrayal in the 1876 election only made to evident that Republicans and Democrats alike had their own intersts in mind rather than the freedmen.
Matthew Lynn
10:27 PM ET (US)
The readings for tonight wrapped up Reconstruction in the narrrow election of Hayes, elected after the corrupt rule of U.S. Grant. I agree with Mike that it appears that the radical reconstructionists did not get what they wanted in any way shape or form and the South emerged in a post-reconstruction atmosphere that is best described as stagnant. At least stagnant until the 1960's civil rights' movements. I think a lot of people view the civil rights movement as the definitive end to reconstruction. However I think it should be viewed as an ongoing progressive movement. We should not allow this opportunity for racial equality to become another point in history in which measures to preserve equality gradually become stagnant as they did in 1876 and on.
Another point, since according to the syllabus this is the last posting I will make. The Tony Horwitz book is incredible and should be required reading for all Southerners. It wraps up the course excellently, and keys in on many themes we have been exploring in the class. Namely why has the civil war continued to be such a driving force in American culture...
Mike DavisPerson was signed in when posted
06:55 PM ET (US)
Just to quickly comment on what was said before the weekend... In looking at radical reconstruction, at least to me, it seems a lot like what happened in the south before the war, with the fire-eaters. A group of radicals were able to gain support around a “common” enemy and push their ideas into popular policy.

As for tonight’s readings, we are shown the final death of reconstruction. With the election of Hayes in 1876/77, reconstruction was over in the south (as announced by Grant). And for the most part, what the radical reconstructionist had hoped to stop was not stopped at all, the old guard seemed to come right back and restrict black rights. The “unfinished revolution” of black rights would at least get its foundation here, but would not end until the ending half of the 20th century.
Elizabeth Grifffin
07:40 AM ET (US)
i have to agree with Kelly- i found guelzo's "breakdown" of reconstruction very interesting... it helped me consolidate many ideas that have been floating around in my head about the post-war experience. in reading, it struck me that we as students of history, we like to catagorize history under some sort of genre. by that i mean, we say that "such and such event was good for the north but upseting to the south" for example-- this example shows a broad generalization about a historical event.... in reality, the event in question may have been beneficial to a majority of northerners, but certainly not all of them. do you see? we like neatly defined historical summaries that fit into our little comprehensive boxes... by filling these "boxes" we throw vital intricacies to the wayside. shame on us! those intricacies are key in truly understanding the issue at hand.... and in understanding the frustrations/concerns/elation of the people who faced the perplexing oddities and details of the time and event.
i found david's discussion to raise an interesting point, reagarding the nature of reconstruction as purely political. i agree with him in many ways.... but at what point do reconstruction measures shift from political/ideological plans to active/practical measures? in reality, who/what are the vehicles of this transition? could more applicable measures have been taken in early reconstruction that would have made the process more practically efficient than political measures are capable of? would this have really worked, or is the political/ideological state necessary before the practical can occur? hmm.... food for thought... alright, sadly i'm signing off from this, my last posting.... its been fun folks.... and academically stimulating...bye y'all.
Kelly Morrow
11:54 PM ET (US)
   I found Guelzo's breakdown of Reconstruction and it's end to be very interesting. It showed both the pluses and minuses of Recon and allowed one to weigh the factors out for themselves. One thing that really stood out to me in the reading was how South Carolina's state debt jumped from $5.5 million to $25.7 million in only 3 years. That's an amazing amount but it makes sense if the legislators were paying for such frivolous things as a free bar and gambling debts. I really can't believe that such things were allowed to happen, but with no one to stop it, I guess it was inevitable. This made me wonder about how much money slips through the cracks these days.
   Guelzo's portrayal of Grant as being a "political nincompoop" and having a presidency that was a "miasma of corruption" was by far very different from his normal portrayal of historical figures. McClellan got it bad but I think Grant takes the cake. Poor guy..
Rusty Lee
09:39 PM ET (US)
As this is my last posting for the year, I feel it appropriate to reflect upon the weeks that we have spent toiling over the nuances and subtleties of this greatest American conflict. On entering this course, I knew only the basics of Civil War treatment: the North beat the South; the war was caused by slavery; slaves got freed in the end. Our inquiries into causes, effects, decisions,etc. al. have turned this was into quite a formidable force. I now feel able to see parts of almost any aspect of everyday life--any question that is relevant or important today--in the issues that characterized 1860's America. Dr. Benson's teaching style only makes learning that much easier. His passion and sincerity give the aura of a friendly conversation--a heated chat with a friend--rather than a "professor lecturing a student" atmosphere. I must admit that I had mixed feelings about the idea of reading numerous historical novels, but I must say that "Killer Angels" goes down as one of the best books that I have ever read (and I am not just limiting this ranking to historical books). As finals approach, the tendency is to feel apprehensive and "nervous". I would simply say this: look how far we have come. Who would have though that he or she would be writing essays about Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus or Lee's decision to fight at Antietam with such confidence? It is truly remarkable to see how much knowledge has been gained from these soon-to-be 12 weeks. Maybe we will each take something permanent--something with staying power--from this class. The Civil War Era...every single idiosynchracy of life encompassed in a handful of
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