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Writing ReconstructionRace, Gender, and Citizenship in the Postwar South$
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Sharon D. Kennedy-Nolle

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469621074

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469621074.001.0001

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The Strange Career of Reconstruction Writing

The Strange Career of Reconstruction Writing

(p.281) Conclusion The Strange Career of Reconstruction Writing
Writing Reconstruction

Sharon D. Kennedy-Nolle

University of North Carolina Press

This concluding chapter analyzes the contradictory nature of Reconstruction literature by examining the speeches of Henry Grady, who introduced the notion of a “New South,” a white-supremacist program that included crop diversification, the protective tariff, industrialization, and reconciliation with black southerners in inferior positions. Grady’s works help explain the outcome of literary Reconstruction and reaffirm its enduring, if contradictory, cultural contribution. Grady’s arguments paradoxically turned Reconstruction writing inside out as he pursued their conservative inclinations. His works discussed property ownership, which was directed toward helping dispossessed Confederates regain lost property. Arguing that freedpeople continued the wartime destruction of white southern property after the Civil War, Grady described Liberty County, Georgia’s former “ruling center of wealth and intellect,” as being dominated by corrupt freedpeople, whose pagan “rites and orgies” were “paralyzing the industry of the county.”

Keywords:   Reconstruction literature, Henry Grady, New South, industrialization, conservative, property ownership, freedpeople, Civil War, Liberty County, Georgia

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