Beyond the Book Review: A Conversation with Chad Pearson

Beyond the Book Review: A Conversation with Chad Pearson

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of recorded interviews between the JCWE book review editor and the authors of the works reviewed in the journal.


Those who study the Civil War and Reconstruction are all too familiar with acts of terror, especially those committed by white vigilantes bent on securing Democratic political dominance and white supremacy. In Capital’s Terrorists: Klansmen, Lawmen, and Employers in the Long Nineteenth Century (University of North Carolina Press, 2022), Chad E. Pearson examines Reconstruction-era violence through the lens of labor suppression and finds continuity between the goals and tactics of the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations, such as Law and Order Leagues and Citizens’ Alliances, who used violence to combat organized labor. In this interview, Chad Pearson, who is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Texas, discusses his study with Megan Bever, book review editor for the Journal of the Civil War Era. Professor Pearson discusses the study’s broad chronological scope—it reaches back as far as the Second Seminole War and extends into the twentieth century—his case study approach, which takes the reader far beyond the Reconstruction South to Missouri, Idaho, and Pennsylvania. In addition to discussing the role of the Klan in violently reining in disaffected laborers, Pearson also discusses how Civil War service and free labor ideology wove their way through the late nineteenth-century managerial organizations that benign-sounding language of open shops and citizenship to disguise acts of terrorism.

The full recorded discussion can be found here.


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