Anna Dickinson's career as an orator began in her teenage years, when she gave her first impassioned speech on women's rights. By the age of twenty-one, she was spending at least six months per year on the road, delivering lectures on abolitionism, politics, and public affairs, and establishing herself as one of the nation's first celebrities. In March 1875, Dickinson departed from Washington, D.C., for an extended tour of the South, curious to see how far the region had progressed in the decade after Appomattox.
In A Tour of Reconstruction, editor J. Matthew Gallman compiles Dickinson's commentary and observations to provide an honest depiction of the postwar South from the perspective of an outspoken radical abolitionist. She documents the continuing effects of the Civil War on the places she visited, and true to her inquisitive spirit, questions the societal developments she witnessed, seeking out black and white southerners to discuss issues of the day. Like many northern observers, she focuses on documenting race relations and the state of the southern economy, but she also details the public's reactions to her appearances, providing some of her most telling commentary. A Tour of Reconstruction, punctuated with a wealth of historical observations and entertaining anecdotes, is the story of one woman's experiences in the postbellum South.
"Makes a valuable contribution to the literature on Reconstruction and specifically on Northern views of Reconstruction in the Southern states." -- Anne Sarah Rubin, author of A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of Confederacy
"Dickinson is a fascinating character and a shrewd observer. No one knows her better than Matt Gallman, and he has done an excellent service by making these unpublished letters available." -- Aaron Sheehan-Dean, author of Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia
"Anna Dickinson's letters belong on any short list of classic travel accounts of the post-Civil War South. They offer splendid descriptions of the physical landscape, highlight continuing bitterness among the defeated Confederate population, and provide insights regarding race relations in the wake of emancipation. J. Matthew Gallman's excellent editorial work enhances the value of A Tour of Reconstruction, which deserves to attract the widest possible audience." -- Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Union War
"Powerful and provocative, Dickinson's letters recreate the diversity and complexity of the postwar South as seen through the eyes of one of the nation's most celebrated public women." -- Caroline E. Janney, author of Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause
"Gallman has done a great service to researchers and teachers alike by making Dickinson's letters accessible as a book. The grounding of the introduction, brevity of the book, complexity of the themes, and vibrant language make this an excellent selection for an undergraduate course on the Civil War era. -- Journal of the Civil War Era" -- Andrew L. Slap, Journal of the Civil War Era
"[N]ot only a rich collection of primary sources but also important lessons on the historian's craft." -- The Journal of Southern History
"Anna Dickinson's correspondence... provides an intriguing post-emancipation portrait of African American land ownership, employment, education, and community ties... Dickinson's letters stand well on their own as an unreconstructed norther's perspective on an equally unreconstructed postwar South." -- Giselle Roberts, G
"[...] [T]his engrossing and educational book would be a good entry point into discussions of the Civil War and Reconstruction." -- Georgia Library Quarterly