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Rhodes moved to Boston for access to its libraries. He devoted the rest of his life to historical research and writing United States history. His brother-in-law was [[Mark Hanna]], a leader of the [[United States Republican Party|Republican Party]]. Rhodes developed his own political viewpoint.
His major work, ''
[[History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 ]],'' was published in seven volumes, 1893–1906; the eight-volume edition appeared in 1920. His single volume, ''History of the Civil War, 1861-1865'' (1918), earned him a [[Pulitzer Prize]] in History that year. (This work is available online at [http://www.bartleby.com/252/ ''History of the Civil War, 1861-1865] (1918).)
Rhodes focused on national politics. Working from primary sources of newspapers and published memoirs, Rhodes reconstructed the process by which major national decisions were made.
He evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of all the major leaders. Rhodes emphasized that slavery and the anti-slavery movement were the chief causes of the Civil War. He detailed what he classified as corruption in the [[Reconstruction era of the United States|Reconstruction]] Republican governments in Washington, D.C. and the Southern states. He said that granting of unqualified suffrage to blacks after emancipation was a mistake and added to the problems during Reconstruction.