The History of Reconstruction.
Many Americans like to imagine the history of their nation as one of continual progress. While acknowledging that not all persons and groups enjoyed equal rights at all times, Americans often take it for granted that American history moves in only one direction: toward greater rights, greater freedom, and greater equality. This perspective makes it difficult for many Americans to understand the Reconstruction period and to place it in a broader historical narrative. The problem they face is that African Americans from roughly 1867 to 1875 enjoyed far more political influence and equal rights than they ever had before, or ever would again until the end of the modern Civil Rights Movement almost a century later. The fact that a group could be stripped of rights it once enjoyed is difficult for many Americans to accept, and so they often retreat into a false narrative, in which African Americans never gained any rights at all, and were abandoned to their fate as soon as slavery ended. In this model, the infamous Black Codes—which were in effect for less than a year—take center stage, and the various gains of Reconstruction get ignored.
Analyze the history of Reconstruction to identify the concrete gains which African Americans won during this time period. Explain the role of the federal government in extending rights to them and protecting those rights, and explain how the gains of Reconstruction were reversed. Summarize your conclusions on these issues by responding to the following questions:
a. Were the goals of Radical Reconstruction feasible ones?
b. Is it possible to transform a society drastically by government action, or might attempts to do so prove counterproductive?
c. Would a more gradualist approach to extending rights to and establishing freedom for African Americans have been more successful?
d. What would be the costs and dangers of such an approach?
Review the following video about the differences between primary and secondary sources, and how to find both in JSTOR:
a. JSTOR primary and secondary sources
When responding to the questions, draw from at least TWO of the following primary sources and specifically cite them in your post:
a. Speech in the Senate
b. Northern teacher to the Freedmen’s Bureau commissioner
c. The Ku-Klux
d. Civil Rights Act
Also, draw from the material in ONE of the following films:
a. What is freedom?
b. Slavery by another name
Your initial post should be no fewer than 200 words in length, which does not include works cited or the questions being answered. It should address all of the components of the question in a way that demonstrates independent, critical thought and command of the required material. It should not merely repeat the material in the textbook or other sources, but should use that material as the basis for an idiosyncratic interpretation of the topic. All sources need to be cited using proper APA format. If you borrow wording from a source, the wording absolutely must be marked as a quotation.
Week 1 Discussion 2
The Industrial Revolution.
Too much corporate influence in politics; the specter of socialist policies undermining capitalism and individual freedoms; a middle class in apparent decline; waves of immigration which threatened to alter the character of American society; new technologies which introduced new social problems as well as offering new opportunities; and a general sense that the common people had lost control of their government: To a sometimes surprising degree, the issues which troubled Americans in the last quarter of the nineteenth century resembled our own. The past often loses much of its vigor and tumult as it becomes codified as history, and it can be difficult at times to understand how truly revolutionary—tranformative, disruptive, unprecedented, and divisive—an event such as the Industrial Revolution was for the people who lived through it.
To better understand this turbulent period, review the major economic and social changes of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Illustrate the revolutionary character of this period by describing the rise of Big Business and identifying the particular forms new corporations assumed. Identify the social problems and opportunities which economic changes created in the cities, the New South, the farmlands, and the West. Explain the role of state and federal governments in these developments. In your response, explain how socioeconomic changes affected the following groups, and how those groups responded to these changes:
a. Native Americans
Summarize your responses to the prompts above by responding to the following questions:
a. What were the most revolutionary social and economic developments of the last quarter of the nineteenth century?
b. How did different groups of Americans respond to those changes and how effective were their responses?
c. What role did government play in these developments?
When composing your initial post and your responses to your classmates, draw from the material in at least
The History of Reconstruction.