Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Andrew Feffer




reconstruction, Virginia, American South, capitalism, Jeffersonian Era


In 1878, a cry went out to every corner of Virginia, summoning delegates “by county, district and ward” to meet. In Richmond they would convene, to defend her people from “an organized party, openly proclaimed,” of corrupt aristocrats and northern bankers, bent upon conducting a “crusade against the people…. and imperiling [sic] their rights and interests as citizens and taxpayers.” And respond Virginia did. From three major cities and fifty nine counties they came: Conservatives, Independents, Republicans; preachers, businessmen, aristocrats, doctors, and farmers; whites and blacks alike. “A wail from the people” arose against the machinations of “rings and court-house cliques,” “brokers and the broker press” who sought to prostitute the Old Dominion at the merciless whim of her creditors. The following year in Richmond that motley group of poor white farmers, blacks, ruined and scheming industrialists, social progressives, financial pragmatists, and political hangers-on broke from the dominant Conservative party, named themselves “Readjusters,” and took their place as one of the first great populist movements of the post Civil-War era.