Talk:Reconstruction Era

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Combining Introduction and Overview[edit]

I propose that 'overview' is redundant when we already have an introduction. We could probably combine the two sections and save redundancy.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Dkam136 (talkcontribs) 16:04, 29 July 2013‎

General Bias?[edit]

I came to this article after doing some reading on Reconstruction from recent sources, hoping to get the general perspective and think about it in terms of the big picture. What I'm reading causes me to wonder if there's something of a general bias here. The topic is fraught with controversy, with many Americans holding strong opinions and a dramatic shift in the scholarship from the pro-Southern (and often openly racist) Dunning school that predominated in the first half of the twentieth century to the extraordinarily detailed recent studies by Foner and others.

Some obvious signs are:

Use of the terms "Carpetbaggers" and "Scalawags" outside of quotes in the introduction (paragraph 4) to describe Northerners who went South and Southern whites who supported Reconstruction policies. "Carpetbaggers" is first introduced in paragraph three, where it is placed in quotes and acknowledged as derogatory, but "Scalawags" doesn't even get that qualification. It's just the descriptive term for Southerners who wanted social change, according to this article.

The mention that Nelson Klose (coauthor of a textbook that is subsequently cited several times) compared African American freedmen to "children", which I discovered to be true:

"The emancipation of the slaves uprooted hundreds of thousands of them and brought sudden freedom, for which they were unprepared. Their labor was lost and they created a social problem for themselves and for the South as they wandered about looking for food and trying, like children, to enjoy their new freedom." (Klose and Lader, United States History, Since 1865, p. 5)

This reference to freedmen as "children" has a pretty prominent place in paragraph two of the introduction. I have the strong impression from the historical research that we now have a much more detailed understanding of what happened in the South, which, given the vast numbers of people and places involved, couldn't reasonably be expected to fit in the above caricature of childlike, unprepared freedmen. It's clear, indeed, that many black leaders emerged and the fight they waged with entrenched views became quite intense.

Reading further in the textbook cited, which was first published back in 1965, I get the sense it has much in common with the Dunning School. Read a bit of the Dunning School wiki, and then compare to, say, the section of Klose's textbook on "Radical Reconstruction in Effect in the South" (pp. 15-16).

My question is, would the Dunning School be essentially a WP:fringe theory now, and, if so, would Klose and Lader be the same? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wswanniii (talkcontribs) 21:59, 14 April 2015‎

There is no general bias-- just a poorly chosen quotation from an old high school textbook. Citing the Klose and Lader textbook was a mistake (I replaced it with a better source) ---It was originally a high school study guide prepared by non-experts in the 1960s, and was not based on scholarship. As for "Scalawag" That is a standard term that is used today without quote marks. Foner, for example, writes in 2013: "Throughout the South, carpetbaggers and scalawags controlled the [Republican] party machinery. To appeal to white voters, party leaders kept blacks off the state ticket in every state except South Carolina and Louisiana."Eric Foner (2013). Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction. p. 145.  Rjensen (talk) 00:01, 15 April 2015 (UTC)


Calling Lincoln's policy of putting huge armies in the field and slaughtering the southern forces can hardly be called moderate. Sending Sherman through Georgia and the Carolinas can hardly be seen as moderate. I think calling a war president a moderate in his actions toward the South needs some adjustment. 14:16, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

Putting huge armies in the field and shooting the other guy-- that's called warfare, and the Confederates did a very poor job in avoiding it. They could stop it instantly at any time and as late as February 1865 they refused. Sending Sherman through Georgia and the Carolinas with very little combat operation, killed very few people. It killed a lot of horses and mules but surely that is more moderate than killing a lot of Southerners. Rjensen (talk) 21:53, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Radical Reconstruction[edit]

Rjensen I have reverted your edit because all historians do not designate this period "Radical Reconstruction." Please see google's N-grams to see use of both terms between 1800 - 2008.

Please use the body of text to describe the various designations, by contemporaries and the academic community, that have been used to designate this time period. Thank you. Mitchumch (talk) 07:57, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

"Congressional Reconstruction" has been out of favor for 100 years. Your data shows that "Radical" is the usual term. see text at footnote 96: "Fellman (2003), pp. 301–310; Foner (1988) entitles his chapter 6, "The Making of Radical Reconstruction." Trefousse (1968) and Hyman (1967) put "Radical Republicans" in the title. Benedict (1974) argues the Radical Republicans were conservative on many other issues." these are leading scholars. "Radical" is not in any way "pov" -- it's the term used by the faction at the time and by scholars today. "Radical" is the standard and most common scholarly term. Rjensen (talk) 09:20, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
Rjensen I did not see entries for Fellman (2003), Trefousse (1968), and Benedict (1974) in the "Bibliography" section.
Secondly, on 08:28, 11 October 2007 your edit changed the section title from "Congressional Reconstruction" to "Congress imposes Radical Reconstruction." That edit deleted a widely used and neutral term to describe this episode of Reconstruction. That edit is also WP:POV. Specifically, "All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), which means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic."
Thirdly, it is also a basic element on Wikipedia to list alternatively used terms for a given topic. This period of Reconstruction has other terms that are used by the academic community to designate it. I've encountered radical reconstruction, congressional reconstruction, military reconstruction, and republican reconstruction as used terms.
Lastly, the term "Congressional Reconstruction" has not been "out of favor for 100 years." The case-sensitive term "Congressional Reconstruction" is clearly increasing in use relative to any other term employed. Please right click both terms in the "case-insensitive" link to display all the case spellings for both terms. The term "Radical Reconstruction" and "radical reconstruction" have been declining as the preferred term to designate this period during Reconstruction, since 1973 and 1968 respectively. There does not appear to be a way to link to this graph.
Mitchumch (talk) 15:47, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
The solution is 1) mention "Congressional Recon" as an alternative and 2) restore cites to books that emphasize Radical role. Here are additional cites that have in turn been frequently cited by scholars (per google scholar): 1) "Preserving the Constitution: The Conservative Basis of Radical Reconstruction" article in The Journal of American History; 2) "Northeastern Business and Radical Reconstruction: A Re-Examination" in The Mississippi Valley Historical Review; 3) "Radical Reconstruction and the Property Rights of Southern Women" in The Journal of Southern History 4) book: Women's radical reconstruction: The freedmen's aid movement (University of Pennsylvania Press,); 5) book: Racism, revolution, reaction, 1861-1877: the rise and fall of radical reconstruction (Pathfinder Press); 6) book: Blacks, carpetbaggers, and scalawags: The constitutional conventions of radical reconstruction (LSU Press). Rjensen (talk) 17:06, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

Two Senses of Reconstruction?[edit]

Reconstruction begins after the war is over so there is no legitimacy in claiming that it began before April 1865. Lincoln certainly considered how to rebuild the nation and took steps toward that goal but that is not part of the Reconstruction period. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Baechter (talkcontribs) 18:35, 18 November 2015 (UTC)