In this illuminating study, Steven E. Nash chronicles the history
of Reconstruction as it unfolded in the mountains of western North
Carolina. Nash presents a complex story of the region's grappling
with the war's aftermath, examining the persistent wartime
loyalties that informed bitter power struggles between factions of
white mountaineers determined to rule. For a brief period, an
influx of federal governmental power enabled white
anti-Confederates to ally with former slaves in order to lift the
Republican Party to power locally and in the state as a whole.
Republican success led to a violent response from a transformed
class of elites, however, who claimed legitimacy from the
antebellum period while pushing for greater integration into the
market-oriented New South.
Focusing on a region that is still underrepresented in the
Reconstruction historiography, Nash illuminates the diversity and
complexity of Appalachian political and economic machinations,
while bringing to light the broad and complicated issues the era
posed to the South and the nation as a whole.