Party-Building during the First Reconstruction

in The Two Reconstructions

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780226845289
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226845272 | DOI:
Party-Building during the First Reconstruction

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This chapter considers an essential component of coalitional strengthening: party-building. It uncovers the mix of success and weakness that characterized the party-building process. Coalition formation on a large scale, such that which occurred during the period 1867–1868, had several immediate concomitants. These included party-building and—with it—both a new biracial public sphere and policy change. Tracing these products of the coalition illuminates the question, could the new coalition have become better institutionalized? The first reconstruction generated the first biracial democratic public sphere in world history. Adapting David Mayhew's language, the chapter conceives of a biracial public sphere as a “realm of public affairs” filled with “public moves and countermoves by politicians and other actors,” white and black, and “an attentive and sometimes participating audience of large numbers of citizens,” again, white and black. About two thousand black men served as federal, state, and local officeholders in the former Confederate states. Nearly a million new black voters entered the electorate. Between the voting and the office-holding, black Americans cultivated effective citizenship.

Keywords: party-building; coalition formation; reconstruction; biracial democracy; voting; office-holding

Chapter.  9428 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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