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Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites
Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction
Among the three organizations, Snay shows, the Fenians provide the clearest case of nationalist aspirations along the lines of ethnicity, though the rise of racial consciousness among both southern whites and blacks also might be seen as expressions of ethnic nationalism. According to Snay, the political culture of Reconstruction encouraged the nationalist ambitions of these groups, but channeled their separatist impulses along civil rather than ethnic lines by focusing on questions of freedom, citizenship, and suffrage. In addition, the Republican emphasis on color-blind equality limited overt expressions of national identities based solely on ethnicity or race.
Unlike southern whites and blacks, Irish Americans are seldom mentioned in Reconstruction histories. By joining the Fenians with freedpeople and southern whites, Snay seeks to assert their central relevance to the dynamics of nationalism during Reconstruction and offers a highly original analysis of Reconstruction as an Age of Capital and an Age of Emancipation where categories of race, class, and genderas well as nationalismwere fluid and contested.
218 pages; ISBN 9780807135358
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