Nick Sacco has an outstanding post on US Grant and Reconstruction historiography that in my opinion should be read by everyone. It’s extremely thoughtful and is a much needed start to correcting understanding of Grant’s presidency and Reconstruction.
A few days ago the distinguished Columbia University historian Eric Foner wrote a fine piece on the relevancy of Reconstruction to the United States today. Foner neatly summarizes a lifetime of Reconstruction scholarship in the essay and convincingly argues that as long as society continues to discuss, debate, and define the meaning of U.S. citizenship, rights, and democracy, “how we think about this era . . . forces us to think about what kind of society we wish America to be.” The essay is well worth your time.
Foner and other historians–most recently Douglas Egerton–emphasize the importance of understanding the very beginning of Reconstruction from roughly 1863 to 1868 and the ways policy decisions, legislation, and constitutional amendments during this period simultaneously expanded civil rights for all Americans while limiting the success of various initiatives that included meaningful land reform and educational/healthcare opportunities for newly freed African Americans. President…
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