Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction
After the American Civil War, several movements for ethnic separatism and political self-determination significantly shaped the course of Reconstruction. The Union Leagues, which began during the war to support the northern effort, spread to the South after the war and mobilized African Americans to fight for their political rights and economic security. Opposing the Leagues was the Ku Klux Klan, which used intimidation and violence to maintain the political and economic hegemony of southern whites. Founded in 1858 as the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, the Irish-American Fenians sought to liberate Ireland from English rule. Mitchell Snay provides a compelling comparison of these seemingly disparate groups in Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites, illuminating the contours of nationalism during Reconstruction.
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