No Safety for Union Men: Norfolk during Virginia's Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1866

Frakes, Brianna, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Varon, Elizabeth, AS-History (HIST), University of Virginia

This dissertation examines Norfolk, Virginia, during the Civil War and early Reconstruction years. It seeks to understand the city’s unique experience of military occupation during the war years and in its immediate aftermath, illuminating the short- and long-term consequences of a long occupation. My dissertation argues that Norfolk’s experience of a long occupation during the Civil War and the problems that stemmed from it foreshadowed the issues that would come to define the Reconstruction era, namely heavy resistance to change, racial and political violence and hatred towards African Americans, animosity towards the Union military, and the rollback of racial and civil rights progress. The focus on this Virginia city is by design; between 1860 and 1866, it experienced the convergence of several factors that scholars link together but largely tend to treat separately: military occupation, Black civil and political rights, Southern Unionism, and Confederate resistance. The people that comprised these stakeholder groups grappled during wartime with issues that would continue to surface throughout the remainder of Reconstruction: the role of the federal military occupation, the place of Black Americans within the Union, and the unique challenges of accepting traitors as fellow countrymen again. Those in Norfolk during the Civil War and into 1866 had already begun the process of debating these issues and working through the possible solutions.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
American Civil War, Union Army, Military Occupation, African American civil rights, Racial Violence, Unionism, Reconstruction, Virginia, Norfolk, Southern Unionism, Confederate resistance, African American political rights, political violence
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