Decades before the American Civil War, a clique of southern slaveholders arose, ruled over their states and attempted to rule the nation. But more than one hundred years ago Americans began to forget about this bold enterprise, which had caused the Civil War and had informed the purpose of Reconstruction.
As American democracy again drifts into oligarchy – or rule of the few – there has never been a more important time to resuscitate the lost, but valuable, lessons about that past. In his ground-breaking book, From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, political science professor Forrest Nabors challenges our general understanding of Reconstruction, and in doing so, challenges our general understanding of how free government and free citizenship in America developed – and nearly expired.
Relying upon the speeches and writings of Republicans in the Thirty-Eighth, Thirty-Ninth, and Fortieth Congress (1863–1869), Nabors demonstrates that their goal was to destroy southern oligarchy, which developed against the wishes of the American founders, and to establish republicanism over its ashes.
“This path-breaking, passionately argued study frames Reconstruction rightly for the first time since Reconstruction itself,” said Will Morrisey, professor and author. “Returning to what politicians North and South actually said and did, Forrest Nabors shows how the Confederacy masked a regime of oligarchy with such slogans as ‘States’ Rights’ and the ‘positive good’ of slavery. He further shows how Reconstruction aimed to settle the Civil War by restoring the rebel states to the genuine republicanism the founders espoused during the American Revolution and had pledged to honor in the Constitution’s republican Guarantee Clause.”
Forrest A. Nabors is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Alaska in Anchorage following a career as a high-technology business executive. From Oligarchy to Republicanism (ISBN 978-0-8262-2135-3) is now available.