Review: the Continuing Evolution of Reconstruction History by Eric Foner

951 Words Feb 1st, 2013 4 Pages
In this article, Foner states in his thesis that “since the early 1960s, a profound alteration of the place of blacks within American society, newly uncovered evidence, and changing definitions of history itself, have combined to transform our understanding of race relations, politics, and economic change during Reconstruction.” The article essentially encompasses the meaning of three different views of reconstruction: traditional, revisionist, and post-revisionist. After Foner defines these and explains his thesis, the article becomes somewhat of an advertisement for his own articles on the topic. Foner defines the traditionalist view as the interpretation that when then civil had finally come to an end, the white population of the …show more content…
This raises the question, were the traditionalists either mainly southerners or racists who wanted to preserve the idea that the south was betrayed by the north and had the right to enforce the black codes? This question will go unanswered, for the article does not investigate each viewpoint to this degree. The second viewpoint described by Foner is revisionism. Revisionists consisted of mainly African American and supporters of the freedmen who wanted to refute the ideas of the traditionalist group. This group also applies the idea of some sort of valiant effort being made, but this time by the African Americans of the era. This group defines reconstruction as “an idealistic effort to construct a democratic, interracial political order from the ashes of slavery, as well as a phase in prolonged struggle between capital and labor for control of the South’s economic resources.” In fact the entire explanation of the motives for the revisionist group makes them seem terribly offended. Revisionists believe that most traditionalists cannot view a black man as a man. Simply put, the freedman is still considered a slave. A statement like this leads to questioning of the relevance of the traditionalist viewpoint. If the south never stopped seeing the freedmen as slaves, and went out of their way to try and preserve the aspects of slavery, then how can traditionalists even support that they have a view on

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