The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 375
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special chapters on Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. He concludes
with an extended bibliographic essay that summarizes existing litera-
ture and makes valuable suggestions for future work.
Professor Gillette believes that recent examinations of Reconstruc-
tion have overemphasized moralistic motives. He sees civil rights legis-
lation simply as part of the Republican party's efforts to build a na-
tional majority. This civil rights legislation was doomed to failure for
at least three reasons: one, it came too late; two, President Grant was
inept at enforcing it; and three, the country opposed any true equality
for blacks. Gillette considers the legislation of the mid-187os anti-
climactic, because it followed the country's general turning away from
concern for changing either the freedman or the South. He explicates
well the often ironic reasons why a majority of congressional Repub-
licans who were otherwise uncooperative supported this legislation
when its time had passed-rather like stubbornly watering artificial
Gillette is harsh in his judgment of nearly every leading Republican.
He sees President Grant as a baffling personality, shrewd in getting
himself reelected, inept at understanding the southern problem or at
making his views clear. President Rutherford B. Hayes takes an equal
drubbing for naivete and for refusing to see that any chance of affecting
the South from Washington was long past by 1877. Gillette is equally
critical of leading Democrats like Horace Greeley and Samuel J. Til-
den, and does not smooth over their party's relentless commitment to
restoring the past, localism, and racism.
As usual, the black was the real loser. Any effort to help him stirred
uncomfortable and often dangerous reactions in both the North and
the South. If he tried to exercise his new legal rights, critics called him
bold; if he declined, they called him unworthy. The federal govern-
ment had just enough soldiers, marshals, and writs to enrage southern
whites but not enough to control them. Judicial conservatism and the
interminable delays of American jurisprudence also helped keep Re-
construction issues alive but unsettled. The country as a whole never
felt any sense of permanent commitment to civil rights; the South had
only to wait to win. In the end, the South did not suffer so much from
carpetbag or alien rule as from no government at all, a circumstance
which rebounded against the federal government and the blacks.
Critics who believe that idealism, or ideas, influence events will not
like Gillette's "postrevisionism." Those with a materialistic or realistic
view of why men act will find the story at least understandable, if not
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/423/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.