halialkers: Gargoyle with two horns, tongue sticking out (Montezuma)
In the year 1875, the first Kentucky Derby was held, Madame Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society, and Jeanne Calment, the oldest person in history, was born. It also saw the US government under the Grant Administration pass the Civil Rights Act of 1875, the final attempt to secure the moral fruits of victory in the Civil War. Reconstruction came to a final bloody end with the Election of 1876 and the Railway Strike of 1877. In Reconstruction the North had changed from a free labor/free soil society to a capitalist society structured with a capitalist class and a working class. The conflicts between the two had already flared up a few times in class strife through the Reconstruction, but it was with the nomination of Rutherford B. Hayes that this happened and the with the start of the Great Sioux War the USA as a whole ceased to care about black rights for a century.

Rutherford B. Hayes in fairness had both been a competent Union general (unfortunately those were relatively thin on the ground as it was) and in the first parts of Reconstruction had been one of the Radicals. Over the course of Reconstruction, his ever-present fiscal conservatism (with the usual cavaeats about what that actually meant in the real world) had come to overtake the moralistic element of the Republican Party. In 1876 he ran against Samuel Tilden, who in turn ran one of the more racist campaigns of the era. The Civil War, as it would do for the period up to the inauguration of TR for his first term he got himself dominated the campaign as far as rhetoric, the Democrats using the Bloody Shirt Libel (Butler did give a speech condemning Ku Klux outrages and did refer to a specific incident, he never waved a bloody shirt while so doing), the Republicans pointing out that the Confederates were all Democrats. Very childish.

Yet when it finally went down to the wire the massed violence in the South prevented what would have otherwise been a clear victory for Hayes. The divisions between the two factions were pretty hostile and there was a brief period where civil war seemed a possibility. Very much not interested in another long bloodbath like that, the two sides dickered out the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compromise_of_1877 where the soldiers were removed from the South, which finally all sunk under Democratic rule and the long, dark night of ex-Confederate misrule much worse than that done by Southern white liberals and those blacks who were leaders.

The biggest thing that prevented the USA from going too far to aid blacks who were now mainly sharecropping laborers was this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Railroad_Strike_of_1877. The largest strike in US history, it was the first of many in the 19th Century to be ended by the military opening massed fire on the strikers. This tendency would continue up until the Square Deal of Theodore Roosevelt. Reconstruction ended in bloodshed as it had been born from it. And the USA had failed to learn a lesson the Russians had hammered into them time and time again: it is dangerous to begin this kind of reform, more dangerous to halt it halfway.

Three more entries and then I am done with the Civil War and Reconstruction as far as this series is concerned.....HUZZAH!

halialkers: Gargoyle with two horns, tongue sticking out (Montezuma)
In 1874 the Democrats recaptured the US House of Representatives for the first time since 1860, the year the first seven Confederate states tried to build their own country. Also in this same year, the next major outbreak of Reconstruction Violence, the Battle of Liberty Place. Here an attempted coup d'etat was launched by the Louisiana Democratic Party to seize control of the Louisiana governorship. The attempt by ex-Confederate general Longstreet to nip this in the bud failed, but the US Army under General Phil Sheridan put the Republican where he belonged: the Governor's mansion. This, however, was fatal to Kellog's government. It was also one of the last times that Northern whites bothered with this, as the Vicksburg Riots and the later South Carolina massacres put a permanent end to this until the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s forced the USA to finish the job it started.

Louisiana had been the first and only Deep South state to have gone through wartime Reconstruction due to Farragut's victory at New Orleans, then even more out of proportion in regards to the state than it is now. That this and the Colfax Massacre were now routine indicated that Reconstruction was being smothered beneath the violence of the so-called Redeemers. The formation this year of the Greenback Party pointed to the future of US politics: the threefold clash between Worker's movements that three years later exploded into the largest labor unrest in US history, the farmers who were hurting due to the Long Depression, and the capitalists represented by the GOP bereft of the first GOP's compassionate capitalism.

The main interesting bit from the Good Ol' Days (durr hurr a derp derp) is that in this year Matthew Evans and Henry Woodward patented the incadescent light bulb, one of many inventions falsely attributed to Thomas Alva Edison.
halialkers: Gargoyle with two horns, tongue sticking out (Montezuma)
In 1873 the Reconstruction experiment, which had already begun to reverse itself, began finally to implode in a gruesome and terrible sense. The paramilitaries, such as the White League and Red Shirts were now increasingly emboldened to start targeting all opposition, due to having become not criminals and unrepentant traitors to be despised, but instead martyrs to military tyranny in the court of Southern white public opinion. This was amplified by the disastrous Modoc War, where General Canby, one of the rising stars from the Civil War and after died fighting one of the more ugly Indian Wars of the West. Too, it was amplified by the start of the first Great Depression from 1873 into the 1890s. And guess why this happened, ladies and gents? The same kind of Laissez-Faire mentality the latest strand of the Western Right wants to take us back to. >.<

Oh, yes.....so Reconstruction began to crash and burn under the fires of the Redeemer thugs and in the midst of Republican infighting. The revival of both white supremacy as a positive good advocated shamelessly by Southern Democrats and unvarnished rehabilitation of Jefferson Davis's idiots was having effects that limited any popular approval that the Reconstruction governments had once claimed by Southern whites themselves. Tragicomic farces like the Brooks-Baxter War were the result of this, when office-holding became the only means for both black and white Southern Republicans to make a living, and outside it they faced ostracism or more often beatings and murders. In the event, too, Grant's own kindness to Robert E. Lee weakened his hand with coercion in the South, because for every inch given the ex-Confederates grabbed entire states. Literally.

The Colfax Massacre in April 1873 was one of the first steps to this. These massacres form what could be with real honest referred to as the Second Civil War of the 1870s. White paramilitaries butchered blacks and any liberal whites who stopped them, forcing the US government to steadily retreat inch by inch from defense of rights for the discriminated against. It was not for lack of resistance by blacks, but a combination of the GOP's ever-increasing shift to fiscal conservatism, and most especially the onset of the Long Depression which provided the fatal undermining of Grant's Reconstruction policies, with results that in this year and the next three thereafter states were "Redeemed." This was a polite euphemism for the use of terrorism to eliminate the Republican Party, creating one-party reactionary regimes.

This had already happened in Georgia, Virginia (bar the brief interim under William Mahone, another Longstreet-style Republican), Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas. In the next three years both South Carolina and Mississippi entered the long dark night of ex-Confederate vengeance known as the Segregation years. And all due to the onset of the Long Depression and a backlash against Grant's ineffective handling of a problem none of the world leaders of the Great Powers addressed for the next 20 years.

This is where Reconstruction and Redemption become most relevant to our times. The onset of this depression was due to Laissez-Faire policies and inherent weaknesses in same. The problem would not be addressed for decades, and then ineffectively and buggered for a good while with the onset in turn of the World War-Interwar era. A white supremacist military arose with violent rhetoric but also with violent action. It's a hint as to what could happen if certain trends are left uninterrupted.

The coverage of the years 1873-1875 and the theft of the election by Rutherford B. Hayes will not be very happy because it's not the most storybook chapter of US history. But note again another parallel with interwar fascism: the rise of the paramilitaries is inseparable from an economic crisis.

And now for the more interesting tidbits from the Good Ol' Days: in 1873 the US government adopted the Comstock Laws. This was one side of the Good Old Days influenced by the first version of US Fundamentalism. At the same time feminism adopted the decidedly white supremacist prohibitionist angle. These laws forbade both legal distribution of contraception and the distribution of pornography. The Heineken Brewery was founded in the Netherlands, Japan adopted the Gregorian Calendar, Levi Strauss achieved the patent for distribution of blue jeans, the German Empire's troops left French soil with French repayment of reparations complete, Imperial Germany was allied to the Dual Monarchy and Alexander II's Russia in the Dreikaiserbund and finally DDT was first sympathized.

halialkers: General Grant, left-profile view. black and white. Man with beard, mustache, thin hair (Kanari-2)
The year 1872 contained several more notable events outside the usual boundaries of what is considered Reconstruction. First, it was the year the Mary Celeste was discovered, a real-life ghost ship that did much to influence legends of the Flying Dutchman in the Newer Than They Think version. Second, it was a year with a pair of more ominous developments. The new Meiji government in Japan called for universal conscription, which go on to be the basis of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. Too, during this phase the long war with the Indigenous Americans of the Colorado Territory ground on, with the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa nations fighting a foredoomed struggle against a United States which began at this point under General Sherman to do unto the Indians as had been done unto the Confederacy.

The only remote qualification about Sherman's tenure as General-in-chief, which by no means negates what he actually did, is that he applied the very same method to white men in the high tide of Victorianism that he did to the Indians. The extermination of the buffalo merely had more visible results than the Georgia and Carolinas Campaigns but the principle was the same. Of course it should also be noted that in both cases the results of Sherman's way of war was undying hatred, so....yeah.

And it was in this year that US Grant defeated a Democratic campaign headed by Horace Greeley. Greeley was a mercurial man who switched positions as often as some politicians in dictatorships would do. He did this by switching from sympathy with Abolitionism to running one of the most racist Presidential candidicies of anyone at that time. This was not why he went down, it was his inability to square the circle with his previous statements on Civil War-era Democrats which did that.

In 1872 also the Lost Cause received its http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TropeCodifier: General Jubal Anderson Early (from whom Nathan Filion, who portrayed Malcolm Reynolds in the series Firefly is descended) wrote A History of the Campaigns of General Lee. In this he laid the foundation of the Southern myth of the Civil War. Southern white Unionists and USCT were written out of the war almost entirely, as was the string of massacres from Olustee to Fort Pillow. The South would begin the war for states' rights after the evil usurpations of the Lincoln regime, and was brought down to defeat by overwhelming material and manpower superiority wielded by a clumsier enemy that buried the South in bodies.

If this sounds familiar it's the same kind of take the German generals of WWII put on their defeat at the hands of the Sopviet Union and there's as much truth to that as there was to the idea that the Union won the war in that manner. Ironically the South averted the Dolchstosslegende, which prevents an entirely accurate parallel.

halialkers: General Grant, left-profile view. black and white. Man with beard, mustache, thin hair (Kanari-2)
In 1871, the same year that Wilhelm I, King of Prussia became the first Kaiser of the German Empire, Grant signed the Ku Klux Klan act and the first KKK was dead. The US government had won this round, but Northern white liberalism was falling off as far as its sympathies for blacks, men or women alike. Northerners did not have the patience or the will to sit through a military occupation of the South for longer than they had to. In this year the first sign of trouble resulted from the impeachment of Governor William Holden of North Carolina.

In the US Civil War Holden had been one of the leaders of the Confederate antiwar movement, advocating peace even if reunion and abolition were necessary. After the war he'd become the Radical Reconstruction governor of North Carolina, one of many instances where wartime Unionism led to postwar political power. Yet aware that at least for the time being White League-style business would be potentially troublesome the ex-Confederates impeached him and replaced him with another Republican, Tod Caldwell, who made no further efforts to suppress the ex-Confederates. Holden was impeached for doing his lawful duty under the law to suppress the ex-Confederates that those opposed to them, white and black, should be safe. The necessity of this had been underlined by the assassination of a state Senator, John Stephens, and a black police officer, Wyatt Outlaw. The Redemption targeted not only those blacks bold enough to stand up for the rights of their people, they also targeted white Southern opposition. The removal of Holden via impeachment was as civilized as it got.

But 1872, the upcoming year, was an election year where things began the final slide toward white supremacy and the US analogue of apartheid in the South. For Grant, in order to win re-election had to make some concessions toward the white supremacist element of the Republican Party, as well as to the rising Conkling-Arthur bureaucrats. Given that this was the last year a US Administration made a strong effort to fight for civil rights for blacks until blacks forced Kennedy to start what LBJ finished it's appropriate here to start detailing the emergence of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Cause. This view of the Civil War became within one extent the US standard view for the next century. Beginning with a book titled The Lost Cause: A New History of the Southern War of the Confederates a new version of Civil War historiography began to appear. Instead of the bitterly and deeply divided Confederacy that had actually existed, where Jefferson Davis was extremely unpopular and where its byzantine infighting did as much to weaken it as Northern military power did, the war became one where a united South had withstood an overwhelmingly powerful North, led by the saintly Lee and Jackson, whose death by friendly fire at Chancellorsville became martyrdom as opposed to what it really was, a tragic moment.

It would be starting in 1872 that General Jubal Early would start his own infamous contributions to this and set in stone the official Lost Cause version of the Civil War......

halialkers: General Grant, left-profile view. black and white. Man with beard, mustache, thin hair (Kanari-2)
As I start the most sordid chapter of US history, I feel that it's important to make a distinction that while is very academic has clear meaning and importance. The Ku Klux Klan of the late 1860s that was so efficiently and quickly suppressed was an ad hoc vigilance committee on steroids. While it was extremely cruel and brutal, it was not organized and it was also essentially from the first multiple distinct groups with a quasi-bitterender mindset. This meant that the mass wave of violence that started in late 1865 and crested in 1869 was while extremely horrible and nightmare-inducing in its own right *less* threatening. You see with this kind of thing there's two kinds of threats: a diffuse violence akin to a hydra where one cell being repressed does not necessarily do that to others. Then there's the other kind, where there's a bunch of people with military experience organizing on paramilitary lines who have every hint of warlike political influence/power and are damned near impossible to suppress democratically.

The Ku Klux Klan was the former, in the 1860s (the 1920s version as will be related in the series on the World Wars was a completely different animal). In the 1870s the reason that I term this Redemption series "How It Happened Here" came to pass when a bunch of ex-Confederates formed the paramilitaries with the following names: Red Shirts (very hilarious in hindsight, at the time referencing both Garibaldi and the British), and the White League (the Louisiana variant). These groups are the most direct precursor to interwar fascism until after World War I. This is a provocative thesis, but I will stick to it and welcome anyone to object to it. Interwar fascism was made up of war veterans organized into extremely tight-knit, warlike groups of paramilitaries (in fact that's where the term comes from, fascio de combatimento) who pursued ethnocratic supremacy based on party-states. These 1870s groups were similarly paramilitary and were also based on a Democratic Party that had less to do with the Party of Andrew Jackson and was more like that of Mussolini: the Party was the State and the State was the Party. 

In one sense the Civil War presaged the modern era in two fashions: the proto-Blitzkrieg embarked on by Generals Sherman, Wilson, Sheridan, and Grant's Overland and Petersburg Campaigns which showed the defensive power of modern armies. This was the sense of the purely military, the social sense was what happened after where a peace just strong enough to piss off the SS but not draconian enough to cripple the South permanently nor a slap on the wrist produced proto-fascism and one-party terror regimes that spent the next century running roughshod over the people in this part of the country in what should by rights be called dictatorships.

If this already sounds like hyperbole, I have not yet begun the series......


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