Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Samuel Davis (Temple University History): Martial Manhood Citizenship, Suffrage, and the Un-Reconstructed North in Pennsylvania, 1862-1870
Kevin Waite (Penn History): California Redeemed: The Retreat from Reconstruction in the Far West
Discussant: Sarah Rodriguez (History, University of Pennsylvania)
THIS MONTH'S PAPERS explore the aftermath of the Civil War and the trajectory of Reconstruction in two states, Pennsylvania and California.
Davis' paper investigates military service in the Civil War and the changes that it fostered in national citizenship, ideologies about rights, and conflicts of inclusion within the body politic in the context of military service. In the aftermath of the Civil War, a period of momentary debate arose in the North between black veterans and activists whose theories of citizenship contrasted those articulated by the federal government. Black martial manhood citizenship, federal constitutional citizenship, and local Pennsylvania citizenship clashed over the prospects of suffrage for black men.
Through a study of California's Democratic politics, Waite's paper insists that we move beyond the facile binary between racial reactionaries in the South and progressives in the North, and instead view Reconstruction as a protracted, nationwide struggle over the legacies of slavery and the Civil War - a struggle that often took unexpected turns. Some of the stiffest opposition to Republican policies at the time came far from the former Confederate states. This paper argues that the so-called retreat from Reconstruction actually began in California in 1867, when voters vented their frustrations with national policy by driving out of office the party most closely associated with federal action in the South. In the years that followed, Californians protested loudly against the military occupation of the South and against black suffrage, refusing to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments - the only free state to do so during the Reconstruction period.