Early Years - How War Changed the People of a Nation

Early Years - How War Changed The People Of A Nation

    The Negro is not [the] only one having a distinct interest in the assertion of the rights of citizenship. Every man in the whole land who believes in the equal rights of citizens of the United States without regard to ‘race, color or previous condition of servitude,’ is touched in his own person by present conditions. No man can call himself free who has to wear a gag or put a padlock on his tongue whenever he crosses certain state lines. (Tourgee, "Is Liberty Worth Preserving?”, 1892)

   Citizenship is merely the doing of justice to others…I believe that the golden rule is a rule of the highest policy… (Tourgee to Rev. A. Lyman, undated)

In the aftermath of the American Civil War, people from all parts of the country and all walks of life were asking themselves, privately and publicly, "What would now be the relationship between the two races?”
 
For people like Albion Tourgee, who had served and followed the war and subsequent political fallout from it, that question was already answered by the outcome of the conflict: a new Union with full and equal citizenship for all men…
 
For Tourgee, the question was "How will the new Union serve its citizens?”

 

Chapters (3)
CivilWar.png Challenging the Established Order on Gender and Race

Tourgee was a supporter of suffrage and equality of rights not only for African Americans, but also for women. Despite his skepticism for organized religion and official doctrines, Tourgee’s lifetime dedication to the ideals and principles of equal rights, human rights, and justice were greatly influenced by his early exposure and inclination to test the beliefs imbued in his Abolitionist upbringing.

Albion-Tourgee-Exhibit-greensboro-cone-denim.jpg Tourgee in North Carolina

There were many people like Tourgee who believed the “slave culture” was a mindset resulting from generations of unequal and unjust social relations between the races, existing in both North and South, in Republican and Democratic party circles alike.

Albion-Tourgee-Exhibit-kkk_costumes.jpg Struggles with the Klan; First Literary Efforts

Tourgee and other authors did indeed write about the particular conditions of violence in the South and the overall rising public tensions between the races, often from varying perspectives. Whether as a judge or as an author, Tourgee’s writings reflected his belief that the agent for change would come, not from any law or mandate or desire for change, but from the acts of the American people themselves – and only when they determine the necessity for change.

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