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Cause: Reconstruction America, 1863-1877

by Tonya Bolden

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
144 pages
ISBN: 0375827951

Ages 12-16

The period known as Reconstruction that followed the U.S. Civil War saw a nation that had been torn in two struggling with the question of how its disparate halves could be politically reunited. It was a question complicated by myriad viewpoints of politicians and others in power on issues as divergent as civil and voting rights for African Americans, suffrage for women, and the treatment of Native peoples as westward expansion continued. At its heart, it was a question complicated by the bigotry, racism, and sexism that in large part defined predominant attitudes of the day. There were heroes, from some of the black politicians who eagerly and courageously ran successfully for elected office in the South, to a handful of elected leaders and activists in the North who fought for reforms that are progressive even today. And there were scoundrels, from President Andrew Johnson, who had no love for the idea of free blacks, to those who established local and regional vigilante groups that would eventually morph into the Ku Klux Klan. Writing about President Johnson stumping for Democratic Congressional candidates, in which his speech touched on the “evils” of the Fourteenth Amendment, author Tonya Bolden notes, “Back then, it was tacky for the president to engage in overtly political campaign speeches.” Bolden’s animated account of the political and social upheaval of that time is fascinating. She enlivens her already compelling subject matter with prose that is refreshingly lively, expressive, and revealing.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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