Reconstruction

Teach Reconstruction

Set in South Carolina and released 100 years ago, D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” glorified the Ku Klux Klan as defenders of white Southerners against a black population that was deemed to be unfit for citizenship in the United States. Last week a photograph taken at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina showed cadets Read more

Update: After you finish reading this post check out Brooks Simpson’s thoughtful response to Gordon-Reed’s essay. One of the most common tropes embraced in reference to the post- Civil War period is the idea of a ‘white Northern retreat from Reconstruction.’  For many, the shift occurred during the mid to late 1870s for a number Read more

The New York Times has a feature up today in which they ask a group of historians to reflect on how Reconstruction ought to be remembered. There are some interesting suggestions to consider from the importance of acknowledging “Juneteenth” to preserving historic sites on Hilton Head island to recognizing the importance of strong voting rights Read more

It’s been noted on this blog more than once that we currently do not have a historic site devoted to Reconstruction. Today in the Atlantic Greg Downs and Kate Masur announced that the National Park Service has undertaken a study to rectify this oversight. As the authors note, this project is fraught with challenges associated Read more

Sallie A. Brock’s narrative of the final days of the Confederacy in Richmond was published in 1867 and based largely on Edward Pollard’s The Last Year of the War. The author’s description tells us quite a bit about the drastic changes that took place beginning on April 2, but it also tell us as much Read more

Did the Civil War End in 1865?

It’s a question that has come to frame Civil War era studies more and more over the past few decades. I pose the question to my students to help them think about both continuity and change throughout the decade and beyond. The question certainly has pedagogical value. Now I pose the question to all of Read more

While running for the presidency in 2008 Barack Obama made it a point to align himself and his campaign with what he viewed as Lincoln’s vision for the nation. For many, Obama was the heir to Lincoln’s legacy. Those connections were only reinforced following his victory. In that moment the Civil War and even Reconstruction Read more

One hundred and fifty years ago Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment and paved the way for ratification by the states. With a roll call and signatures roughly 240 years of slavery ended and yet as a nation we do nothing to publicly acknowledge this milestone. It’s striking given our collective embrace of a narrative that Read more

Tim Scott was sworn in today as the newest Senator from the state of South Carolina. That’s not such a big deal until we add in the fact that he is the first African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the Senate from a former Confederate state. I’ve been surprised by how little this Read more

Still Fighting Reconstruction

I think there are a number of problems with Rev. Barber’s interpretation of Reconstruction, but I can’t help but acknowledge the ways in which the post-Civil War period seems to be creeping into our discourse about a host of issues related to racial politics in recent years. The sesquicentennial of Reconstruction Era offers a number Read more