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02.08.03 Henry, Robert Selph, The Story of Reconstruction, published in 1938 by Bobbs-Merrill Company

Notes Concerning the Author

Robert Selph Henry (1889-1970) was born at Clifton, Tennessee to Robert Allison Henry and wife Jemima Emily.  Soon afterward the Henry’s moved to Nashville.  He graduated from Vanderbilt in 1911 and did post graduate work at  Queens College in Cambridge, England. He was admitted to the Tennessee bar in  1911 and practiced law in Nashville from 1915 to 1921.  For the next 13 years he was assistant to the president of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis  Railroad.  In 1934 he left the railroad industry to study and write history, about which he was passionate, especially history concerning the southern States and their people.

The Story of the Confederacy, was Henry’s first book, published in 1937.  For many years that work was considered to be the definitive history of the rise of the  Confederate States of America and the War Between the States.  The book on the War Against Mexico was published in 1950 and is also among the Society’s Recommended Reading List items.  He wrote many other books as well.

Henry is a good example of an “Independent” historian who did not make his living within the “Academic Community.”


 This comprehensive history of 633 pages presents the story of Republican Political Reconstruction after the surrender of the Confederate armies and the imprisonment of Jefferson Davis.  Abe Lincoln is dead and Vice President Andrew Johnson, a former Democrat who had not returned to his native Tennessee upon its 1861 secession, is now President.  The Federal House and Senate, controlled overwhelmingly by Republicans, is strongly opposed to Johnson.  In this stew of hatreds and political ambitions, the conquered and devastated States are forced to undergo a punitive Political Reconstruction, lasting in some of them until 1877.

The titles of the chapters in this book are as follows:

The Harder Part of War. Proper Practical Relations with the Union. Home to Desolation. Contrasts and Contradictions. Lincoln States. The
Radicals Declare War. Johnson States. Government Helps and Hindrances. The Brief Era of Good Feeling. The First Convention. Political Ammunition. Constitution Writing. Mississippi Mistakes. Legislative Irritants. The Business of Living. Churches and Schools. The Joint Committee on Fifteen. Race Relations in Law and Living. The Great Amendment. Memories and Hopes. A Policy in Search of a Party.
Congress goes Radical. The Sinful Ten. Congress is the People. Synthetic States. The Lasting Evil. Reconciliation and Rehabilitation. Loyalty Must Govern. A Season of Politics. Clipping the Court’s Wings. More Writing of Constitutions. Seven Senators Save the Constitution. Six New States. Four States Still Out. The Campaign and Election of 1868. Suffrage and Amnesty. Stealing by Statute. From Virginia to Texas. The Last State Admitted. The Elections of 1870. Gains in Agriculture, Education, and Transportation. Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States. Division and Coalition. The Elections of 1982. Politics and Progress. War and the Touch of Reunion. The Landslide of 1874. Declare them Banditti. The Mississippi Plan. The Last Campaign. The Struggle for the State Houses.

Availability of the Book

This book is widely available as a used hardbound or paperback reprint.  Go to Amazon or a similar outlet.  There is no Kindle e-book.

CNW (additions to this review are welcome and encouraged)