William Link introduces key contexts for the book, namely that the origins, onsets, and resolutions of the American Civil War are best understood as a global struggle. Not only was the creation of a new American nation a result of the war, but this creation also occurred in concert with a worldwide emergence of modern nationalism. By 1860, the American South contained the world’s largest and most valuable enslaved population, and the huge wealth in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco secured through slave labor is what drove exports, trade, and profit in American and global financial centers. This book suggests new ways to situate US Reconstruction as affecting and being affected by global events, and it argues that Reconstruction cannot be understood unless we extend our analysis beyond national borders.
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