"Radical Reform" describes a remarkable chapter in the American
pro-democracy movement. It portrays the largely unknown leaders of
the interracial Republican Party who struggled for political,
civil, and labor rights in North Carolina after the Civil War. In
so doing, they paved the way for the victorious coalition that
briefly toppled the white supremacist Democratic Party regime in
Beckel provides a nuanced assessment of the distinctive
coalitions built by black and white Republicans, as they sought to
outmaneuver the Democratic Party. She demonstrates how the dynamic
political conditions in the state from 1850 to 1900 led reformers
of both races to force their traditional society toward a more
radical agenda. By examining the evolution of anti-elitist politics
and organized labor in North Carolina, Beckel brings a new
understanding to party factionalism of the 1870s and 1880s. As
racial conditions deteriorated across America in the 1890s, North
Carolina Republicans forged a fragile coalition with Populists.
While this interracial pro-democracy movement proved triumphant by
1894, it carried the seeds of its ultimate destruction.
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