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John Hope Franklin, Historian, on
Reconstructing Nashville

John Hope Franklin If you were a southerner in Nashville, what are the kinds of things that you’re facing at the end of the war? What are your prospects for just living a life?

Franklin : By the end of the war in the spring of 1865, not only was the South generally bankrupt militarily and politically, but bankrupt economically as well. And it had to put the pieces together and build as best it could. Nashville [had] a little more experience because it had been defeated earlier, and was on the road to some kind of reconstruction by 1865, when the rest of the South was just beginning the reconstruction. Nashville had been occupied. There were Union troops in Nashville. There were barracks that housed the Union troops, that would be later used as schoolrooms and that sort of thing. There were so many Tennesseans coming into the city, because that was the magnet. Although it didn’t have many resources, it was still a major city, the capital of the state and so forth. And people tended to drift into Nashville from other parts of the state, and indeed from other parts of the South. The Union Army was very important, and provided some sustenance and some guidance, really, for the recovery of Nashville and for the recovery of the state of Tennessee.

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