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The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama [Book Review]

Kousser, J. Morgan (2007) The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama [Book Review]. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 37 (4). pp. 646-647. ISSN 0022-1953. doi:10.1162/jinh.2007.37.4.646.

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During the campaign to restrict suffrage in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century South, upper-class Democrats from heavily African American areas urged all whites, regardless of geography, class, or past partisanship, to recall the “horrors” of Reconstruction and unite behind the “reforms,” pledging that legal means to disfranchise nearly all blacks, but no whites, were possible. Feldman contends that poor whites were so strongly and irrationally racist that they believed the Democrats’ empty promises, ignored their own economic and political self-interest, and committed political suicide (9–10, 23, 136). Often heavy-handedly attacking Woodward, Webb, and this reviewer as credulous propagators of “the disfranchisement Myth” that “plain” white anti-Democraticparty sympathizers opposed suffrage restriction, Feldman seeks to restore the white-consensus view of southern politics, shorn of its original racist purposes (3–11, 123). Misrepresenting the views of the historians that he attacks, distorting or ignoring evidence to fit his thesis, and performing only the most simplistic statistical analysis of election returns, Feldman fails as badly as the disfranchisers did to obscure white disunity.

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Additional Information:© 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc. Posted Online February 7, 2007. Book review of: The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama. By Glenn Feldman (Athens, University of Georgia Press, 2004) 311 pp. 9780820326153.
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131008-153456064
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ID Code:41752
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Deposited On:09 Oct 2013 15:18
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 04:34

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