Reconstruction HIstoriography


Views of Reconstruction

Traditional View of Reconstruction

Approx. 1890 - Approx. 1960

This view of Reconstruction presented the time period as characterized by corruption, demagoguery and cynicism. It emphasized the vindictiveness of the Radical Republicans. Reconstruction came to an end in 1877 when federal troops were removed from the South.

William Dunning, Reconstruction Political and Economic

Approx. 1907

John Hope Franklin After the Civil War

Approx. 1960

Revisionist View of Reconstruction

Approx. 1960 - Approx. 1980

Revisionists presented a much more sympathetic perspective on the time period by focusing on the significance of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. They argued that Reconstruction was more complex then the Traditionalists presented it. White southerners were not victims. Andrew Johnson was not a hero. Radical Republicans were praised. African Americans played a larger and more complex role in the process.

James McPherson The Struggle for Equality


Joel Williamson After Slavery


Kenneth Stampp The Era of Reconstruction 1865 - 1877


Post Revisionist View of Reconstruction

Approx. 1978 - Approx. 2000

This view is more pessimistic and skeptical about the outcome of Reconstruction. They tend to view it as an unfinished revolution.

Leon Litwack Been in the Storm Too Long

Approx. 1979

Eric Foner Reconstruction America's Unfinished Revolution


Historical Events & Developments

Civil Rights Movement

Approx. 1954 - 1968

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