Civil War Alabama
Christopher Lyle McIlwain, Sr. University of Alabama Press, 2016 Library of Congress E551.M34 2016 | Dewey Decimal 976.105
Christopher McIlwain’s Civil War Alabama is a landmark book that sheds invigorating new light on the causes, the course, and the outcomes in Alabama of the nation’s greatest drama and trauma. Based on twenty years of exhaustive research that draws on a vast trove of primary sources such as letters, newspapers, and personal journals, Civil War Alabama presents compelling new explanations for how Alabama’s white citizens came to take up arms against the federal government.
A fledgling state at only forty years old, Alabama approached the 1860s with expanding populations of both whites and black slaves. They were locked together in a powerful yet fragile economic engine that produced and concentrated titanic wealth in the hands of a white elite. Perceiving themselves trapped between a mass of disenfranchised black slaves and the industrializing and increasingly abolitionist North, white Alabamians were led into secession and war by a charismatic cohort who claimed the imprimatur of biblical scripture, romanticized traditions of chivalry, and the military mantle of the American Revolution.
And yet, Alabama’s white citizens were not a monolith of one mind. McIlwain dispels the received wisdom of a white citizenry united behind a cadre of patriarchs and patriots. Providing a fresh and insightful synthesis of military events, economic factors such as inflation and shortages, politics and elections, the pivotal role of the legal profession, and the influence of the press, McIlwain’s Civil War Alabama illuminates the fissiparous state of white, antebellum Alabamians divided by class, geography, financial interests, and political loyalties.
Vital and compelling, Civil War Alabama will take its place among the definitive books about Alabama’s doomed Confederate experiment and legacy. Although he rigorously dismantles idealized myths about the South’s “Lost Cause,” McIlwain restores for contemporary readers the fervent struggles between Alabamians over their response to the epic crisis of their times.
The rollicking tales of Old Southwestern humor were a distinctive contribution to American folk culture provided by the frontiersmen of the South and Southwest, a tradition brought to its highest form in the work of Mark Twain. Among the precursors of Twain was John Gorman Barr of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Like Twain, Barr grew up in a river town, worked in a printing office, and traveled widely; and again like Twain, Barr drew upon the people and places of his home region as the primary sources for his tales.
In addition to the pure entertainment Barr’s stories provide, they also furnish a comprehensive picture of Tuscaloosa and western Alabama in the 1850s—the roaring river town coexisting uneasily with the intellectual sophistication of the recently established University of Alabama.
Winner of the Gulf South Historical Association's Michael Thomas Book Award.
In Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman, G. Ward Hubbs uses a stark and iconic political cartoon to illuminate postwar conflicts over the meaning of freedom in the American South.
The cartoon first appeared in the Tuskaloosa Independent Monitor, published by local Ku Klux Klan boss Ryland Randolph, as a swaggering threat aimed at three individuals. Hanged from an oak branch clutching a carpetbag marked “OHIO” is the Reverend Arad S. Lakin, the Northern-born incoming president of the University of Alabama. Swinging from another noose is Dr. Noah B. Cloud—agricultural reformer, superintendent of education, and deemed by Randolph a “scalawag” for joining Alabama’s reformed state government. The accompanying caption, penned in purple prose, similarly threatens Shandy Jones, a politically active local man of color.
Using a dynamic and unprecedented approach that interprets the same events through four points of view, Hubbs artfully unpacks numerous layers of meaning behind this brutal two-dimensional image.
The four men associated with the cartoon—Randolph, Lakin, Cloud, and Jones—were archetypes of those who were seeking to rebuild a South shattered by war. Hubbs explores these broad archetypes but also delves deeply into the four men’s life stories, writings, speeches, and decisions in order to recreate each one’s complex worldview and quest to live freely. Their lives, but especially their four very different understandings of freedom, help to explain many of the conflicts of the 1860s. The result is an intellectual tour de force.
General readers of this highly accessible volume will discover fascinating new insights about life during and after America’s greatest crisis, as will scholars of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and southern history.
Taming Alabama focuses on persons and groups who sought to bring about reforms in the political, legal, and social worlds of Alabama. Most of the subjects of these essays accepted the fundamental values of nineteenth and early twentieth century white southern society; and all believed, or came to believe, in the transforming power of law. As a starting point in creating the groundwork of genuine civility and progress in the state, these reformers insisted on equal treatment and due process in elections, allocation of resources, and legal proceedings.
To an educator like Julia Tutwiler or a clergyman like James F. Smith, due process was a question of simple fairness or Christian principle. To lawyers like Benjamin F. Porter, Thomas Goode Jones, or Henry D. Clayton, devotion to due process was part of the true religion of the common law. To a former Populist radical like Joseph C. Manning, due process and a free ballot were requisites for the transformation of society.
A lavishly illustrated history of this distinctive city’s origins as a settlement on the banks of the Black Warrior River to its development into a thriving nexus of higher education, sports, and culture
In both its subject and its approach, Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making is an account unlike any other of a city unlike any other—storied, inimitable, and thriving. G. Ward Hubbs has written a lively and enlightening bicentennial history of Tuscaloosa that is by turns enthralling, dramatic, disturbing, and uplifting. Far from a traditional chronicle listing one event after another, the narrative focuses instead on six key turning points that dramatically altered the fabric of the city over the past two centuries.
The selection of this frontier village as the state capital gave rise to a building boom, some extraordinary architecture, and the founding of The University of Alabama. The state’s secession in 1861 brought on a devastating war and the burning of the university by Union cavalry; decades of social adjustments followed, ultimately leading to legalized racial segregation. Meanwhile, town boosters set out to lure various industries, but with varying success.
The decision to adopt new inventions, ranging from electricity to telephones to automobiles, revolutionized the daily lives of Tuscaloosans in only a few short decades. Beginning with radio, and followed by the Second World War and television, the formerly isolated townspeople discovered an entirely different world that would culminate in Mercedes-Benz building its first overseas production plant nearby. At the same time, the world would watch as Tuscaloosa became the center of some pivotal moments in the civil rights movement—and great moments in college football as well.
An impressive amount of research is collected in this accessibly written history of the city and its evolution. Tuscaloosa is a versatile history that will be of interest to a general readership, for scholars to use as a starting point for further research, and for city and county school students to better understand their home locale.