As a former president of the Western History Association, I know that presidential addresses to that organization don’t usually create much of a trail. Not so, Elliott West’s 2002 oration in which he introduced the construct “Greater Reconstruction.” Challenging the long-held wisdom that confined Reconstruction to a twelve-year period from the end of the Civil War until 1877 and to the territory of the Confederate states, West argued for an extended chronology and an expanded geography. Greater Reconstruction, he maintained, began with the acquisition of territories after the Mexican-American War and continued to the end of the nineteenth century. In West’s telling, it played out across the nation, with the West being central to the era’s remaking of race relations and to the consolidations of national authority and industrial capitalist supremacy. West’s speech and its published version reset the research agendas of western historians and sparked vigorous debates about Reconstruction’s...
Review: Continental Reckoning: The American West in the Age of Expansion, by Elliott West
STEPHEN ARON is the Calvin and Marilyn Gross Director, and president and CEO, of the Autry Museum and professor of history emeritus at UCLA. His most recent book is Peace and Friendship: An Alternative History of the American West (2022).
Stephen Aron; Review: Continental Reckoning: The American West in the Age of Expansion, by Elliott West. California History 1 November 2023; 100 (4): 113–115. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ch.2023.100.4.113
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