HIS 204 Week 1 DQ 1 The History of Reconstruction
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?...