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Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866-1896

The Civil War unleashed a torrent of claims for equality—in the chaotic years following the war, former slaves, women’s rights activists, farmhands, and factory workers all engaged in the pursuit of the meaning of equality in America. This contest resulted in experiments in collective action, as millions joined leagues and unions. In Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866–1886, Charles Postel demonstrates how taking stock of these movements forces us to rethink some of the central myths of American history.

The twenty-first century, Postel argues, has ushered in a second Gilded Age of savage socioeconomic inequalities. Equality explores the roots of these social fissures and speaks urgently to the need for expansive strides toward equality to meet our contemporary crisis.

Written by Charles Postel
Professor of History, San Fransisco State University

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