The introduction provides an overview of the historiographies of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the South and Southern Appalachia specifically. It further establishes the author’s central argument and methodology for the book as well as the individual chapters. The author argues that reconstruction unfolded as a dialogue between national policy and local realities. Western North Carolina’s demographic makeup—namely its large white population majority—allowed a variety of issues to work in conjunction with emancipation during the region’s reconstruction. While the end of slavery and African Americans’ struggle for civil rights was a crucial issue in the region, the smaller black population prevented the fears of black domination that informed politics in the former plantation districts. In western North Carolina, wartime loyalty, governmental power, and economic development played major roles in the region’s reconstruction after the Civil War. The author suggests that western North Carolina reorients current interpretations of reconstruction away from a singular focus on emancipation’s consequences and brings additional issues into focus.
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