We are pleased to again welcome Philip Leigh, who brings us a long-form guest post on how the Reconstruction shaped the southern states. Shortly before the Centennial it was generally agreed that the chief aim of the Republican-dominated Congress was to ensure lasting Party control of the federal government by creating a reliable voting bloc in the South for which improved racial status among blacks was a paired, but secondary, objective. However, by the Sesquicentennial it had become the accepted view that Republicans were primarily motivated by an enlightened drive for racial equality uncorrupted by anything more than minor self interest.
The American South remained one of the last vestiges of Western slavery inyet within the span of a decade its slaves would be freed and obtain not only the right to vote, but would hold political office.
The Civil War resulted in a pitched battle to determine the future course of American politics and society, a battle that continues to reverberate today.
Written inBlack Reconstruction literally rewrote the official history of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Prior to Du Bois, it was commonly accepted that the Civil War was a tragic conflict that set brother against brother, with the generic slaves acting merely as an historical backdrop.
All Negroes were ignorant; All Negroes were lazy, dishonest, and extravagant; Negroes were responsible for bad government during Reconstruction. This alone would be a seminal achievement, but Du Bois made a more lasting contribution to history and politics that makes Black Reconstruction useful as a political tool today.
Du Bois was not simply interested in writing a history book—a fact that meant the book was much maligned when first published. Du Bois was castigated for failing to use archival resources, an impossibility for a Black historian studying the South where Jim Crow segregation made such research utopian.
In Black Reconstruction, Du Bois has written a history that utilizes Marxism as a political framework for understanding and explaining the history of Black oppression within the United States. Moreover, in total command of Marxist dialectics, Du Bois connected the oppression and exploitation of Black slaves and then Black freedmen to the development of U.
It was thus the black worker, as founding stone of a new economic system in the nineteenth century and for the modern world, who brought civil war in America.
He was its underlying cause, in spite of every effort to base the strife upon union and national power. That dark and vast sea of human labor in China and India, the South Seas and all Africa; in the West Indies and Central America and in the United States—that great majority of mankind, on whose bent and broken backs rest today the founding stones of modern industry—shares a common destiny.
All these are gathered up at prices lowest of the low, manufactured, transformed, and transported at fabulous gain; and the resultant wealth is distributed and displayed and made the basis of world power….
Out of the exploitation of the dark proletariat comes the Surplus Value filched from human beasts…. The emancipation of man is the emancipation of labor and the emancipation of labor is the freeing of that basic majority of workers who are yellow, brown and black.
In this regard, it is important to read Black Reconstruction for two reasons. First, it is a fascinating history whose contribution is now easily taken for granted. At the time, however, it was largely ignored. However, to get the full intention of Du Bois requires closer reading.
His clarity on the dialectic of race and class in capitalist economy is unmatched. He sees clearly that the context for the development of the vitriolic racism that then underpinned all of American politics was the scramble for unprecedented wealth.
They did not know that when they let the dictatorship of labor be overthrown in the South they surrendered the hope of democracy in America for all men. The espousal of the doctrine of Negro inferiority by the South was primarily because of economic motives and the inter-connected political urge necessary to support slave industry….
The South could say that the Negro, even when brought into modern civilization, could not be civilized, and that, therefore, he and the other colored peoples of the world were so far inferior to the whites that the white world had a right to rule mankind for their own selfish interests.
The resulting color caste founded and retained by capitalism was adopted…and approved by white labor. Or what is it ye buy so dear With your pain and with your fear?
The seed ye sow, another reaps; The wealth ye find, another keeps; The robes ye weave, another wears; The arms ye forge, another bears.the civil war. updated may 3, jump to: north/south differences, causes of the war, timelines, charts/outlines, maps & flags.
primary documents, quotes, diaries. Du Bois published Black Reconstruction (BR) in with Harcourt, Brace and Company (New York).He completed it after leaving the NAACP and returning to Atlanta University.
Its subtitle, "An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, ," neatly summarized his central argument in the book.
, Billie. Letter, 2 January Accession 4 pages. Letter, 2 January , from a soldier named Billie at Petersburg, Virginia, to his sister Maggie describing the wintery weather conditions around Petersburg during the siege of Teacher-created and classroom-tested lesson plans using primary sources from the Library of Congress.
A Roundtable Discussion. On April 9, , Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union forces at Appomattox, putting an end to the bloodiest war in American history.
Essay The Primary Goal of Reconstruction after the Civil War Words | 4 Pages After four years of fighting between the Union and the Confederacy in the American Civil War, it was finally decided in that the 11 southern states that seceded from the nation would be restored into the Union once again.