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Reconstruction in Collin County, Texas, 1865-1876

Description: This is a work of local history examining the course of Reconstruction in Collin County, Texas. National and state level surveys of Reconstruction often overlook the experiences of communities in favor of simpler, broader narratives. The work proceeds chronologically, beginning with the close of the Civil War, and tells the story of Collin County as national Reconstruction progressed and relies on works of professional and non-academic historians, oral histories, census data, and newspapers to present a coherent picture of local life, work, and politics. The results exemplify the value of local history, as local conditions influenced the course of events in Collin County as much as those in Austin and Washington D.C. The story of Reconstruction in Collin County is one of anomalous political views resulting from geographical exclusion from the cotton culture of Texas followed by a steady convergence. As Reconstruction progressed, Collin County began to show solidarity with more solidly conservative Texas Counties. The arrival of railroads allowed farmers to move from subsistence agriculture to cash crop production. This further altered local attitudes toward government, labor, voting rights, and education for Freedmen. By the end of Reconstruction, Collin County had all but abandoned their contrarian social and political views of the 1850s and 1860s in favor of limited rights for blacks and Redemption. The results show the importance of local history and how Collin County’s Reconstruction experience enriches and deepens how historians view the years after the Civil War. The author recommends further research of this kind to supplement broader syntheses.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Thompson, Jesse R.