The volume continues the Ashbrook Center’s collection of primary documents covering major periods, themes and institutions in American history and government. It is the third of a planned trilogy on the conflict over slavery. “Causes of the Civil War” and “The Civil War” will follow.
This volume begins with a letter Abraham Lincoln penned in the midst of the Civil War, as Union forces retook territory and the U.S. government had to decide how to deal with freedmen and former slaveholders in the subdued rebel territory. It concludes with Frederick Douglass’ reflections in 1883 on a nation still divided racially — still, as he saw it, half slave and half free. The intervening documents tell the story of the effort to reunite the country while guaranteeing the rights of the freedmen, as well as of the opposition in the South and North that doomed that effort.
Yenor selected, edited and introduced all 31 documents in the volume and wrote an extensive introduction on the trajectory of American Reconstruction. The volume was made possible through a faculty grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, whom Yenor thanks in the preface to the edition.