Between Slavery and the Want of Railroads: Reconstruction in Western North Carolina
Appalachian regions like western North Carolina are too often left out of conversations about the American Civil War’s aftermath. There are two reasons for that. First, Reconstruction was fundamentally about African Americans’ freedom. Since African Americans were such a distinct minority of the population, people assume this wasn’t a big deal here. Second, many people falsely assume that white mountaineers were devoted to the Union and gladly welcomed the war’s end. Both of these assumptions are false and mask the deep divisions, political violence, and opportunities Reconstruction created for a biracial Republican Party to enact real change in western North Carolina. As we are now in the 150th anniversary of Reconstruction, this talk addresses this last moment in our history.
A native of Pennsylvania, Steven E. Nash moved to the South in 1998 to pursue his master’s degree at Western Carolina University. He later attended the University of Georgia, graduating with his PhD in history in 2009. He is an associate professor of history at East Tennessee State University and the author of Reconstruction’s Ragged Edge: The Politics of Postwar Life in the Southern Mountains (winner of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Association’s Weatherford Award for best nonfiction book in Appalachian Studies published in 2016). He currently resides in Weaverville with his family.
Admission to Appalachian Evenings is free and open to all.