Reconstruction after the Civil War, Third Edition

University of Chicago Press
2
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Reconstruction after the Civil War explores the role of former slaves during this period in American history. Looking past popular myths and controversial scholarship, John Hope Franklin uses his astute insight and careful research to provide an accurate, comprehensive portrait of the era. His arguments concerning the brevity of the North’s occupation, the limited power wielded by former slaves, the influence of moderate southerners, the flawed constitutions of the radical state governments, and the downfall of Reconstruction remain compelling today. This new edition of Reconstruction after the Civil War also includes a foreword by Eric Foner and a perceptive essay by Michael W. Fitzgerald.
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John Hope Franklin lived through America's most defining twentieth-century transformation, the dismantling of legally protected racial segregation. A renowned scholar, he has explored that transformation in its myriad aspects, notably in his 3.5-million-copy bestseller, From Slavery to Freedom. Born in 1915, he, like every other African American, could not help but participate: he was evicted from whites-only train cars, confined to segregated schools, threatened—once with lynching—and consistently subjected to racism's denigration of his humanity. Yet he managed to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard; become the first black historian to assume a full professorship at a white institution, Brooklyn College; and be appointed chair of the University of Chicago's history department and, later, John B. Duke Professor at Duke University. He has reshaped the way African American history is understood and taught and become one of the world's most celebrated historians, garnering over 130 honorary degrees. But Franklin's participation was much more fundamental than that.

From his effort in 1934 to hand President Franklin Roosevelt a petition calling for action in response to the Cordie Cheek lynching, to his 1997 appointment by President Clinton to head the President's Initiative on Race, and continuing to the present, Franklin has influenced with determination and dignity the nation's racial conscience. Whether aiding Thurgood Marshall's preparation for arguing Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, marching to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, or testifying against Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, Franklin has pushed the national conversation on race toward humanity and equality, a life long effort that earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1995. Intimate, at times revelatory, Mirror to America chronicles Franklin's life and this nation's racial transformation in the twentieth century, and is a powerful reminder of the extent to which the problem of America remains the problem of color.

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Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Dec 6, 2012
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9780226923390
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
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A brilliant evocation of the post-Civil War era by the acclaimed author of Patriots and Union 1812. After Lincoln tells the story of the Reconstruction, which set back black Americans and isolated the South for a century.

With Lincoln’s assassination, his “team of rivals,” in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s phrase, was left adrift. President Andrew Johnson, a former slave owner from Tennessee, was challenged by Northern Congressmen, Radical Republicans led by Thaddeus Stephens and Charles Sumner, who wanted to punish the defeated South. When Johnson’s policies placated the rebels at the expense of the black freed men, radicals in the House impeached him for trying to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Johnson was saved from removal by one vote in the Senate trial, presided over by Salmon Chase. Even William Seward, Lincoln’s closest ally, seemed to waver.

By the 1868 election, united Republicans nominated Ulysses Grant, Lincoln's winning Union general. The night of his victory, Grant lamented to his wife, “I’m afraid I’m elected.” His attempts to reconcile Southerners with the Union and to quash the rising Ku Klux Klan were undercut by post-war greed and corruption.

Reconstruction died unofficially in 1887 when Republican Rutherford Hayes joined with the Democrats in a deal that removed the last federal troops from South Carolina and Louisiana. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill with protections first proposed in 1872 by the Radical Senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner.
The pivotal era of Reconstruction has inspired an outstanding historical literature. In the half-century after W.E.B. DuBois published Black Reconstruction in America (1935), a host of thoughtful and energetic authors helped to dismantle racist stereotypes about the aftermath of emancipation and Union victory in the Civil War. The resolution of long-running interpretive debates shifted the issues at stake in Reconstruction scholarship, but the topic has remained a vital venue for original exploration of the American past. In Reconstructions: New Perspectives on the Postbellum United States, eight rising historians survey the latest generation of work and point to promising directions for future research. They show that the field is opening out to address a wider range of adjustments to the experiences and effects of Civil War. Increased interest in cultural history now enriches understandings traditionally centered on social and political history. Attention to gender has joined a focus on labor as a powerful strategy for analyzing negotiations over private and public authority. The contributors suggest that Reconstruction historiography might further thrive by strengthening connections to such subjects as western history, legal history, and diplomatic history, and by redefining the chronological boundaries of the postwar period. The essays provide more than a variety of attractive vantage points for fresh examination of a major phase of American history. By identifying the most exciting recent approaches to a theme previously studied so ably, the collection illuminates the creative process in scholarly historical literature.
John Hope Franklin lived through America's most defining twentieth-century transformation, the dismantling of legally protected racial segregation. A renowned scholar, he has explored that transformation in its myriad aspects, notably in his 3.5-million-copy bestseller, From Slavery to Freedom. Born in 1915, he, like every other African American, could not help but participate: he was evicted from whites-only train cars, confined to segregated schools, threatened—once with lynching—and consistently subjected to racism's denigration of his humanity. Yet he managed to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard; become the first black historian to assume a full professorship at a white institution, Brooklyn College; and be appointed chair of the University of Chicago's history department and, later, John B. Duke Professor at Duke University. He has reshaped the way African American history is understood and taught and become one of the world's most celebrated historians, garnering over 130 honorary degrees. But Franklin's participation was much more fundamental than that.

From his effort in 1934 to hand President Franklin Roosevelt a petition calling for action in response to the Cordie Cheek lynching, to his 1997 appointment by President Clinton to head the President's Initiative on Race, and continuing to the present, Franklin has influenced with determination and dignity the nation's racial conscience. Whether aiding Thurgood Marshall's preparation for arguing Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, marching to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, or testifying against Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, Franklin has pushed the national conversation on race toward humanity and equality, a life long effort that earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1995. Intimate, at times revelatory, Mirror to America chronicles Franklin's life and this nation's racial transformation in the twentieth century, and is a powerful reminder of the extent to which the problem of America remains the problem of color.

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