Virginia during Reconstruction, 1865-1870 -- a political, economic and social study

Smith, James D, University of Virginia
Younger, Edward, University of Virginia
William, David Alan, University of Virginia

It is the author's belief that too often the emphasis upon the political history of the Reconstruction years has obscured the more important story of the life of the people. Far more important to most Virginians than political developments were their day-to-day struggles to provide food, clothing, shelter and some of the amenities of life in a time of almost universal financial ruin. Of even greater importance than these economic problems was the personal, the spiritual impact of the War upon the people of Virginia. It is impossible to assess the depth of grief caused by the loss of thousands of loved ones and the defeat of a cause to which nearly all had given courageous support. No Americans, not excluding the peoples of other Southern states, have suffered as much when all is said and done as did Virginians during this era.

It is the author's purpose to tell something of this story of Virginia during the Reconstruction years. In doing so primary reliance has been placed on the great wealth of manuscript material that has come down from these years. It must immediately be said that the author claims neither to have exhausted the material nor to have looked at everything pertaining to Virginia in this period. Such a project would entail several years of research. The attempt has been made only to utilize extensively a few of the most valuable collections, particularly those of the Alderman Library, University of Virginia.

In telling this story the author has permitted the people to speak for themselves in many instances. The reasons for this were twofold: first, because they did speak so well in eloquent and lengthy letters, and, second, because it was hoped that more of the true spirit of these Virginians would be reflected. Anyone who reads widely in the correspondence of the people of this time cannot fail to be impressed by the depth and resources of the human spirit revealed therein.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) -- Virginia

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-14 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:35:07.

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: