Thoughts on Ulysses S. Grant, Reconstruction, and forgiveness in politics

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Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant

I have spent the past month or so reading Ron Chernow’s 2017 biography of Ulysses S. Grant. Dear Lord, is it timely. The sections of the book about Reconstruction — and, more specifically, how Reconstruction turned into Redemption — have an especially painful immediacy. I defy any honest person to read about the combined forces of authoritarianism and white supremacy destroying a multiracial democracy and not think of President Trump. As the man said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

But the inspiration for this particular post concerns the so-called Mississippi Plan, which Chernow portrays as the de facto end of Reconstruction. The “plan,” which was more or less adopted throughout the South during the lead-up to the widespread establishment of the Jim Crow apartheid system, involved a combination of harassment, corruption, intimidation, and outright terror — all dedicated to the ultimate end of keeping the state’s Republican voters (both African-American and white) from the polls and ensuring the victory of the state’s white supremacist, unreconstructed Democratic Party. …


Elias Isquith

Writer, editor, producer, liberal, Queens resident, and strong-opinion-holder

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