Given this morning’s post on Reconstruction, I’m hoping that these three videos featuring Eric Foner’s views on Reconstruction will help spark reflection and discussion. Once again, thet come from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
In the first video Foner discusses how our views of Reconstruction have changed over time.
In the second video Foner discusses Republican Reconstruction initiatives in 1866.
In the third video Foner defines Reconstruction’s legacy.
For many years Reconstruction historiography was the story of lost opportunity. Yes, there was the rather predictable retelling of scholarly and semischolarly understandings of the conflict from the beginning of the twentieth century, usually starting with a recapitulation of the Dunning School (I suspect that I am one of the few historians of my generation or younger who has actually read William A. Dunning’s own writings), passing through the revisionism of the 1960s, and then into something called postrevisionism; at the same time historians went from politically-grounded studies of policy and law at the federal and state level to other perspectives. Yes, there was always the telling of the evolution of the image of the stereotype of the carpetbagger, the scalawag, and the freedpeople; the switching of white and black hats between Andrew Johnson and the Radical Republicans; the eternal “what if Lincoln had lived?” query; and so on. Continue reading