Still the Arena of Civil War: Violence and Turmoil in Reconstruction Texas, 1865-1874

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Editor: Kenneth W. Howell
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Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781574414493
Hardcover ISBN-10: 1574414496
Physical Description: 6x9. 480 pp. 16 b&w photos. 3 maps. Notes. Bib. Index.
Publication Date: March 2012

Following the Civil War, the United States was fully engaged in a bloody conflict with ex-Confederates, conservative Democrats, and members of organized terrorist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, for control of the southern states.  Texas became one of the earliest battleground states in the War of Reconstruction. Throughout this era, white Texans claimed that Radical Republicans in Congress were attempting to dominate their state through “Negro-Carpetbag-Scalawag rule.” In response to these perceived threats, whites initiated a violent guerilla war that was designed to limit support for the Republican Party. They targeted loyal Unionists throughout the South, especially African Americans who represented the largest block of Republican voters in the region.

Was the Reconstruction era in the Lone Star State simply a continuation of the Civil War? Evidence presented by sixteen contributors in this new anthology, edited by Kenneth W. Howell, argues that this indeed was the case. Topics include the role of the Freedmen’s Bureau and the occupying army, focusing on both sides of the violence. Several contributors analyze the origins of the Ku Klux Klan and its operations in Texas, how the Texas State Police attempted to quell the violence, and Tejano adjustment to Reconstruction. Other chapters focus on violence against African-American women, the failure of Governor Throckmorton to establish law and order, and the role of newspaper editors influencing popular opinion. Finally, several contributors study Reconstruction by region in the Lower Brazos River Valley and in Lavaca County.

“This is a valuable contribution to Texas and Reconstruction history. The essays reflect an expanded range of topics about Reconstruction in Texas, especially the chapters on Tejano and African American women.”—Alwyn Barr, author of Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Politics, 1876-1906

Still the Arena of Civil War should attract those interested in Reconstruction and African American history.”—Archie P. McDonald, author of Texas: A Compact History

“Violence is clearly organic to Texas’s experience of Reconstruction. No other southern state faced the frontier and borderland circumstances that escalated the body count in Reconstruction Texas.”—Patrick G. Williams, author of Beyond Redemption: Texas Democrats after Reconstruction

Introduction: The Elusive Story of Violence in Reconstruction Texas, 1865–1874 by Kenneth W. Howell

Part One:
Representatives of Change: Soldiers, Bureau Agents, and Lawmen

1. The Post of Greatest Peril?: The Freedmen’s Bureau Subassistant Commissioners and Reconstruction Violence in Texas, 1865–1869
by Christopher Bean

2. “Shoot or Get Out of the Way!”: The Murder of Texas Freedmen’s Bureau Agent William G. Kirkman by Cullen Baker—and the Historians
by William L. Richter

3. The World Turned Upside Down?: The Military Occupation of Victoria and Calhoun Counties, 1865–1867
by Charles D. Spurlin

4. William Longworth, Republican Villain
by Richard B. McCaslin

5. “The Old Hero of Many Cowardly and Bloody Murders”: Scalawag Gang Leader Ben Brown
by Dale Baum

6. Finding a Solution to Reconstruction Violence: The Texas State Police
by Donaly Brice

Part Two:
The Insurgents and Their Allies: Texas Terrorists, Politicians, and Newspaper Editors

7. When the Klan Rode: Terrorism in Reconstruction Texas
by James M. Smallwood

8. The Democratic Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Politics of Fear
by Carl H. Moneyhon

9. “A Free and Outspoken Press”: Coverage of Reconstruction Violence and Turmoil in Texas Newspapers, 1866–1868
by Mary Jo O’Rear

Part Three:
The Victims: Minorities and Women

10. Into Freedom’s Abyss: Reflections of Reconstruction Violence in Texas
by Ronald E. Goodwin

11. Foreigners in Their Native Land: The Violent Struggle between Anglos and Tejanos for Land Titles in South Texas during Reconstruction
by Andrés Tijerina

12. “To Punish and Humiliate the Entire Community”: White Violence Perpetrated Against African-American Women in Texas, 1865–1868
by Rebecca A. Kosary

Part Four:
Regional Perspectives: The Frontier, the Interior, and Places in Between

13. Governor James Throckmorton and the Question of Frontier Violence in Reconstruction Texas, 1866–1867
by Kenneth W. Howell

14. An Uncompromising Line between Yankee Rule and Rebel Rowdies: Reconstruction Violence in
Lavaca County
by Douglas Kubicek and Carroll Scogin-Brincefield

15. Reconstruction Violence on the Lower Brazos River Valley
by John Gorman

About Author:

KENNETH W. HOWELL is an associate professor of history at Prairie View A&M University. He is the author of Texas Confederate, Reconstruction Governor: James Webb Throckmorton and co-author of The Devil’s Triangle: Ben Bickerstaff, Northeast Texans, and the War of Reconstruction in Texas and Beyond Myths and Legends: A Narrative History of Texas. He is also the editor of The Seventh Star of the Confederacy: Texas during the Civil War, the winner of the prestigious A. M. Pate, Jr. Award in Civil War History.

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