The forces of racial justice did much more than merely discuss the merits of an integrated and equal nation. Hopes for remaking the South and the nation were made tangible in the form of thousands of missionaries and millions of dollars sent to aid the freed people. Northern Protestants sought to create nothing less than a Christian and Republican citizenry among southern blacks. Northern novelist Albion Tourg'ee remembered the Protestant response to the end of the war as quite possibly the most magnificent moment in American history. "Perhaps there has been no grander thing in our history" than when "the civilization of the North in the very hour of victory threw aside the cartridge-box, and appealed at once to the contribution-box to heal the ravages of war," he wrote. "[I]t was the noblest spectacle that Christian civilization has ever witnessed." Working and laughing together, praying and singing together, hoping and dreaming together, and crying and struggling together, freed African Americans and the northern missionaries embodied the purest kind of radicalism. They carried "the new and greatest battle of freedom" into the postbellum South. Armed with little more than school primers and Bibles, these northern "soldiers of light and love" met a fierce resistance from former Confederates. But dreams of an egalitarian nation and hopes for heaven on earth were more powerful than the demons of white supremacy -at least for a season under the sun.
- from pages 49-50, Reforging the White Republic