One of the most misunderstood periods in American history, Reconstruction remains relevant today because its central issue—the role of the federal government in protecting citizens’ rights and promoting economic and racial justice in a heterogeneous society—is still unresolved. America’s Reconstruction examines the origins of this crucial time, explores how black and white Southerners responded to the abolition of slavery, traces the political disputes between Congress and President Andrew Johnson, and analyzes the policies of the Reconstruction governments and the reasons for their demise.
America’s Reconstruction was published in conjunction with a major exhibition on the era produced by the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia, and the Virginia Historical Society. The exhibit included a remarkable collection of engravings from Harper’s Weekly, lithographs, and political cartoons, as well as objects such as sculptures, rifles, flags, quilts, and other artifacts. An important tool for deepening the experience of those who visited the exhibit, America’s Reconstruction also makes this rich assemblage of information and period art available to the wider audience of people unable to see the exhibit in its host cities. A work that stands along as well as in proud accompaniment to the temporary collection, it will appeal to general readers and assist instructors of both new and seasoned students of the Civil War and its tumultuous aftermath.
Eric Foner is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University and the author of Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, winner of numerous awards including the Bancroft Prize, and many other books. He serves on the editorial boards of Past and Present and The Nation and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, London Review of Books, among other publications.
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