Emancipation, Reconstruction, and “Redemption”

It is always difficult to stop war, and doubly difficult to stop a civil war. 

Inevitably, when men have long been trained to violence and murder, the habit projects itself into civil life after peace, and there is crime and disorder and social upheaval… 

But in the case of civil war, where the contending parties must rest face to face after peace, there can be no quick and perfect peace. 

When to all this you add a servile and disadvantaged race, who represent the cause of war and who afterwards are left near naked to their enemies, war may go on more secretly, more spasmodically, and yet as truly as before the peace. 

—W. E. B. DuBois (Black Reconstruction in America, 1935) 

This exhibit looks at the Reconstruction period (1863-1877) from the perspective of Alabamians — what they were experiencing locally and what they were reading about in newspapers.

It features archival and published materials from the W. S. Hoole Special Collections library. It also draws upon newspaper articles discovered through Newspapers.com, which UA users can access through the Libraries databases page.

Go to the Background page to learn about the period — especially the terminology being used and the state of political parties during this era. You can also view a timeline of major Reconstruction events — this may be helpful as the exhibit is organized somewhat chronologically but primarily by theme.

The Beginning of the End

01 – The Labor Question
02 – Flight

03 – Riot or Massacre?
04 – Organized White Supremacy

05 – Occupation & Readmission
06 – Pardon & Amnesty

07 – Radicals
08 – Redemption

09 – Emancipation
10 – Freedom

The End of the Beginning

Curated by Kate Matheny (kgmatheny@ua.edu), Outreach Coordinator, September 2020, based on a physical exhibit of the same name (September 2019).