The era of reconstruction, 1865-1877
This brief political history of reconstruction is an attempt to give more general currency to the findings of scholars during the past few decades. Based on accumulated material on reconstruction for lectures for college students.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
I have read very little about this period in history and this book provided a good introduction to the factual and historical disputes of this era. It is well written and provides a surprising amount of information on the subject. One of the themes of the book is the ongoing dispute with earlier interpretations of what happened during the Reconstruction Era. The first chapter discusses the writings of William A. Dunning and several other historians in the 1920's who characterized Reconstruction as "The Tragic Era". They saw radical reconstruction as a time of oppression of the South by the radical reconstructionists. The remainder of the book shows that what was termed oppression was primarily an unsuccessful attempt to get the Southerners to embrace the doctrine of racial equality. The fact that white supremacy triumphed in the South shows how little real oppression actually took place. There were significant efforts, including the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, to guarantee political and social equality to the newly freed slaves. The failure to provide any meaningful economic assistance rendered the blacks powerless against the ante-bellum power structure who maintained their economic power. That and the lack of any national commitment to the idea of racial equality defeated the efforts of the radicals to bring about a meaningful "Second Revolution". Andrew Johnson is portrayed as a man whose own weaknesses doomed his efforts to control the reconstruction process. He was an ineffective politician handicapped by personal feelings of insecurity that rivaled Richard Nixon's. Escaping impeachment by one vote he lost all political support for his policies. I enjoyed this book as a good start on the conflicts that arose after the Civil War. The author does an excellent job of pointing out the errors in the factual portrayal and analysis of reconstruction by earlier historians. He makes it clear that the real tragedy of reconstruction was the inadequate effort to bring the freed slaves into the mainstream of American society. I look forward to more in depth reading of this critical time in American history.
Review: The Era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877User Review - Goodreads
Among the amazing aspects of this book: it is almost 50 years old and relates the events of almost 100 years before that, and yet it still has plenty to teach us today. It is astonishing that American ...
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