unscrupulous whites. Dunning School. ", Even James Wilford Garner's Reconstruction in Mississippi, regarded by W. E. B.
Why does it matter how we understand the history of Reconstruction?
They are not, however, chiefly characterized by their hostility toward ethnic groups. Explaining the success of the Dunning School, historian Peter Novick noted two forcesâthe need to reconcile the North and the South after the Civil War and the increase in racism as Social Darwinism appeared to back the concept with scienceâthat contributed to a "racist historiographical consensus" around the turn of the 20th century on the "criminal outrages" of Reconstruction.
The result is not hard to guess. Whatever of soundness there may have been in any of these explanations, all have been superseded, during the last decade, by another, which, starting with the candid avowal that the whites are determined to rule, concedes that the elimination of the blacks from politics has been effected by intimidation, fraud, and any other means, legal or illegal, that would promote the desired end. In the first period, that of the Ku Klux and the Mississippi plan, it was generally maintained by the whites that the black vote was not suppressed, and that there was no political motive behind the disturbances that occurred. A single reflection seems pertinent, however, in view of the problems which are uppermost in American politics at present. The Force Acts experienced a similar decline during the period we are considering. "fought the bravest battle of all of those. Du Bois Reflects on the Purpose of History, W. E. B.
But this view
Side by side with the removal of the preventives, the Southern whites had made enormous positive advances in the suppression of the other race. Reconsidering the Views of John W. Burgess, William A. Dunning, and Eric Foner on Congressional Reconstruction,". and our political imagination,  Novick provided examples of the style of the Dunning School approach when he wrote: James Ford Rhodes, citing [Louis] Agassiz, said that "what the whole country has only learned through years of costly and bitter experience was known to this leader of scientific thought before we ventured on the policy of trying to make negroes [sic] intelligent by legislative acts." of Northern capitalism. when he was killed, In February, 1894, an act became law which repealed all existing statutes that provided for federal supervision of elections. of American history
It engaged in "distortion by exaggeration, by a lack of perspective, by superficial analysis, and by overemphasis," while ignoring "constructive accomplishments" and failing to acknowledge "men who transcended the greed" of the age. How do scholars view the Reconstruction era today? and say, oh, It just doesn't happen that way. It was demonstrated again and again that the appearance of a body of negroes under arms, whether authorized by law or not, had for its most certain result an affray, if not a pitched battle, with armed whites, in which the negroes almost invariably got the worst of it. Grant is not their idea of a model President, nor were the southern carpetbag governments worthy of their unqualified praise. With the enactment of these constitutional amendments by the various states, the political equality of the negro is becoming as extinct in law as it has long been in fact, and the undoing of reconstruction is nearing completion. How did W.E.B. Meanwhile, the wholesale removal of political disabilities by Congress in 1872 brought many of the old and respected Southern politicians again into public life, with a corresponding improvement in the quality of Democratic leadership. A constitutional amendment was adopted in 1895 which applied the “understanding clause” for two years, and after that required of every elector either the ability to read and write or the ownership of property to the amount of three hundred dollars. But many other motives were at work in the disorders, and the purely political antithesis of the races was not so clear in the origin and development of the movement as in connection with the efforts of the state governments to suppress it. All of the alleged horrors of Reconstruction helped to freeze the minds of the white South in resistance to any change whatsoever.
the accusations but lousy historians, put to the torture" during
Not the least interesting feature of this episode was the explanation given by the white committee, of the existence of the great mass of tissue ballots. Their generalized adoption of deprecatory terms such as scalawags for southern white Republicans and carpetbaggers for northerners who worked and settled in the South, have persisted in historical works. Whether the Supreme Court of the United States will regard it as equally successful in screening its real purpose from judicial cognizance remains to be seen.
"Was the Grant of Black Suffrage a Political Error? In practice, the white must be stupid indeed who cannot satisfy the official demand for a “reasonable interpretation,” while the negro who can satisfy it must be a miracle of brilliancy. What we do. ", Some historians have suggested that historians sympathetic to the Neo-Confederate movement are influenced by the Dunning School's interpretation of history.. has been the subject Bowers, in colorful, While these were at their height the Republican party was ousted from control in five of the old rebel states,—Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, and Virginia. Accordingly, the attack of the Democrats upon the laws was actuated mainly by the purpose of breaking down the Republican party organization in the South. But the peculiar form of this particular provision was confessedly adopted, not from any consideration of its abstract excellence, but in order to vest in the election officers the power to disfranchise illiterate blacks without disfranchising illiterate whites. Historian Eric Foner, a leading specialist, said: The traditional or Dunning School of Reconstruction was not just an interpretation of history. He supported the idea that the South had been hurt by Reconstruction and that American values had been trampled by the use of the U.S. Army to control state politics. Instructor: Christopher Muscato Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado. Therefore, before showing the video, students should think about how they perceive the connection between the study of history and the present moment. By Louisiana, however, a new method was devised for exempting the whites from the effect of the property and intelligence tests.
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