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Synopsis

In 1877, a decade after the Civil War, not only was the United States gripped by a deep depression, but the country was also in the throes of nearly unimaginable violence and upheaval marking the end of the brief period known as Reconstruction and a return to white rule across the South. In the wake of the contested presidential election of 1876, white supremacist mobs swept across the South, killing and driving out the last of the Reconstruction state governments. A strike involving millions of railroad workers turned violent as it spread from coast-to-coast, and for a moment seemed close to toppling the nation’s economic structure.

In 1877, celebrated historian Michael Bellesiles reveals that the fires of that fated year also fueled a hothouse of cultural and intellectual innovation. Bellesiles relates the story of 1877 not just through dramatic events, but also through the lives of famous and little-known Americans.

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