Reconstruction Revisited

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“Review of Reconstruction Revisited”

In “Reconstruction Revisited”, Eric Foner reexamines the political, social, and economic experiences of black and white Americans in the aftermath of the Civil War. With the help of many historian works, Foner gives equal representation to both sides of the Reconstruction argument.

Foner writes that nowhere, was the transfer in black life more profound than in politics. The amazing political mobilization of the black community was one of the most striking features of that period, along with the emergence of a new black political class. At the beginning of the Reconstruction, blacks turned to ministers and men who had achieved prominence as slaves to represent them politically. During Congressional Reconstruction, prominent black artisans, who possessed skill, independence and often literacy, who where deeply apart of the freedman’s community served as a bridge between the black world and the public political sphere dominated by whites. Black politicians where not perfect and had flaws of their own. Thomas Holt, author of “Black Over White” is quoted within “Reconstruction Revisited” that “largely, black leaders from the free racially mixed class of Charleston, were not concerned enough with the needs of the black community and failed to act in the interests of black peasants.” It was not only the divisions within the black community that shaped the course of the Reconstruction. Division within the white community also helped shape the course of the Reconstruction. Federal, Army and state authorities were equally indifferent to the freedmen’s aspirations. Congress established the Freedmen’s Bureau to create a new social order by government mandate. This Bureau had many jobs all of which where focused on giving blacks a better life. Southern state governments enacted black codes modeled after the slave codes that existed before the Civil War and President Johnson did nothing to prevent this while Congress did its best to...
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