In this provocative study, Robert Harrison provides new insight into grassroots reconstruction after the Civil War and into the lives of those most deeply affected, the newly emancipated African Americans. Harrison argues that the District of Columbia, far from being marginal to the Reconstruction story, was central to Republican efforts to reshape civil and political relations, with the capital a testing ground for Congressional policy makers. The study describes the ways in which federal agencies such as the Army and the Freedmen's Bureau attempted to assist Washington's freed population and shows how officials struggled to address the social problems resulting from large-scale African-American migration. It also sheds new light on the political processes that led to the abandonment of Reconstruction and the onset of black disfranchisement.

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