The Republic for Which It Stands
The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896
Oxford University Press 2017
Rapidly changing politics. Debates over the meaning of immigration. Widespread violence against minority groups. An economy undergoing a radical shift in form. The thirty years after the end of the Civil War have much in common with the United States in the second decade of the twenty first century, argues Stanford historian Richard White in The Republic for Which it Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford University Press, 2017). In this ninth volume of the long-running Oxford History of the United States series, White tells the story of a period in American history too long thought of as historical “flyover country.” Rather than merely an era of institutional failures and mediocre presidents, the Reconstruction Era and Gilded Age are critical to understanding the politics and society of the modern United States (though there were still plenty of failures and uninspiring politicians along the way). Americans often used the image of the home, ubiquitous though often hiding in plain sight, to argue about free labor, racial equality, and environmental crises. In The Republic for Which it Stands, White makes a strong case for a wholesale reevaluation of the long period after the Civil War as more than just decades of missed opportunity; Americans spent those years fundamentally reshaping the republic itself.
Stephen Hausmann is a doctoral candidate at Temple University and Visiting Instructor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently writing his dissertation, a history of race and the environment in the Black Hills and surrounding northern plains region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana