Appomattox became ever more elevated in our national imagination not because it resolved what would follow but because everyone could see in it what they wanted. The white South envisioned nothing like the Reconstruction that would follow and thought that their quiet and peaceful surrender here meant that nothing more would happen. They saw Appomattox as the end, as resolution, not as the beginning of a more profound revolution in American life, a revolution in which formerly enslaved men would vote as well as fight, a revolution in which the North would call the shots in American politics and public life for generations to follow.

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From Southern Cultures, v. 21, pp. 7-12. Copyright © 2015 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

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