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In it visiting scholars series W B O A presents visit with a historian and writer part one. The visiting scholars program of the Cleveland public schools was developed under the direction of Superintendent Paul Briggs and was designed to bring teachers and students into direct personal contact with outstanding scholars. We hear now the first of two interviews with Dr. John Hope Franklin professor of American history at the University of Chicago. He is a nationally known historian specializing in the area of post-Civil War Reconstruction and the history of the American Negro. He has taught at Fisk University St. Augustine's college North Carolina College of Durham. Howard University and in 1986 he became chairman of the Department of History at Brooklyn College in 1960. Dr. Franklin was Fulbright professor at several Australian universities and in the same year he went to Nigeria for the Department of State to study higher education in that country. In 1962
63 he was pipped professor of American history and institutions at Cambridge University and a fellow of St John's College Cambridge. Among Dr. Franklin's many publications are the free negro in North Carolina 1790 to 1860 From Slavery to Freedom A History of American Negroes. The militant south. And reconstruction after the Civil War. He was interviewed by Cecilia Evans of WB O.E. Dr. Franklin as an authority on the reconstruction period in American history 1865 to eight hundred seventy seven. Would you tell us what some of the important new views are that historians hold regarding this period. There have been a number of new views that have been advanced by historians during the past several years. One of them has to do with. The whole question of military occupation in the South after the war. The only view was that. The South was occupied by vast force of
Union troops that remained in the South for years after the Civil War. By now we know as a result of studying the reports of the Secretary of War and of the adjutant general and others that this was not the case. Indeed beginning in April of eighteen hundred sixty five we have an order issued by the War Department calling for the extensive demobilisation of the Army of the United States. And by the end of 1865 only a few thousand Union troops were left in the south. And many of them were at their regular military installations such as forts and fortresses. And indeed large numbers of them occupied positions on the frontier where they were trying to keep peace with the Indians. The implications of this of course are far reaching. For it means. That those who have argued that the South was kept down by a military force. Are
not arguing from the accurate facts. Another has to do with the position of the negro particularly with regard to the extent to which he was prepared to accept are to live as a free person. A great deal is said about that has been said about the ignorance of Negroes. Their illiteracy and their lack of experience. In conducting themselves. As independent and responsible persons. Now obviously the vast majority might not have been prepared in any real sense of the term. But it ought to be remembered that literally thousands upon thousands of them had been the school could read and write. Had experiences in their own organizations churches for eternal bodies and the like. And that might be expected to assume some responsibility is in a free society. Still another new view that has been advanced. Has to do with the whole
question are the radicals in the United States at the end of the Civil War. The term covers in the a multitude of impressions. I think it would be enough to say here that the radicals were never numberous. They were never the dominant force in the national political life or indeed in the state political activities. And that indeed those that are called radicals were not very radical. The Jews and programmers which they advanced. Were radical only in the sense that they did suggest. That the negro might be involved. In some aspects of the political and social and economic life of the country but their overall program in the context of American life in the aging of the 60s could hardly be described as radical. There's still one other point that I want to suggest and that is that. There's been a great
deal of talk about the length of reconstruction it has been described by some as a long dark night. Indeed upon careful examination of the period itself. One is impressed with the fact that reconstruction did not last very long. The so-called radical reconstruction in Virginia for example was overthrown before it got started. In North Carolina. It lasted for about a year. It's practically nothing. And some other states it lasted two or three years and they only as many as three states did it last for as long as ten years. Well in terms of history to even 10 years is is very little. Well then according to what you tell us now the new View shows that there was practically no military protection in the South after the war that the so-called radicals were actually very small voice on the scene and that the status quo was restored. A
very short time after the end of the war. Dr. Franklin. Could you describe for us the status or condition of the negro during this period then. What were his civil rights his educational and economic opportunities both in the north and in the south. This is a very difficult question to answer in a brief period of time. I think one one must begin with. Is the fact that at the end of the Civil War when the governments of the South were restored. And by restored here I am meaning the restoration that was brought about by President Lincoln and Johnson. We will find that the power in the south was the political power was concentrated. In the hands of Southern whites. And that these southern whites. Undertook to define the position of the
Negro in their communities. And they defined this without any prompting either from a negro or from Washington certainly not very much from Washington. And the result was the development of a rather elaborate. Set of code sometimes called the Black Codes. Which did not extend much in the way of civil rights to negroes. As a matter of fact they could sue and be sued. Something which could not have happened before the Civil War. You know their marriages were legitimated for the first time their children were legitimated. And they could now own property and could dispose of property. But the law was beyond this. Undertook to restrict the activities. And indeed the lives of negroes providing curfews for them. Prohibiting them from participating in certain economic activities.
Excluding them altogether from political life. No friend to ask for anything wrong. And excluding them from educational life provided by the states themselves. Were they to have separate but equal institutions of learning. Not yet for there were no institutions of learning provided in the first two years after the Civil War. Except those provided by a private. Philanthropic organizations with the aid at times of the Freedman's Bureau which have been established by the government of the United States in March of eighteen hundred sixty five. Now most of these educational opportunities. Were open to both Negroes and whites. These are the schools founded by the Methodists and Baptists and Quakers and Catholics and others. And generally they were open to both races. What happened of course in connection with the
educational opportunities was that. Once the southern reconstruction program was overthrown in 1867. And once. The program that we call I think rather erroneously Radical Reconstruction was established. The public then began to provide schools for Negroes. Most of these interestingly enough. Were separate only in South Carolina was the experiment of. Any graded education attempted. And that proved to be on the whole a failure because of the withdrawal of all of the white children from both the schools and the colleges that were supported by the state. You ask me about economic opportunities. So far as their economic opportunities were concerned they were also limited. In the south. The opportunities that were available were largely agricultural.
And strong and strenuous efforts were made to persuade Negroes to remain on the farms and to work. As laborers on the farms and plantations. Presumably for their former masters. There were of course some opportunities for may gross to acquire property although in some places this was done with great difficulty. In the north. Despite the fact that Negroes there had been free for more than a half century at the time of the Civil War. Opportunity is to make a living were extremely limited. I think it can be said that the restrictions in the north. The prejudices against the equal employment opportunities negroes were so formidable so great. That it resulted in their inability generally to make a satisfactory living.
It would seem to me that since the North was not as agricultural as the south with their opportunities to work would be even more limited in a sense. They would be in a sense but when one one when one recognizes the fact that this is a period of great industrialization of the knob of an expanding economy one might have suspected that new opportunities might have been opened except for the fact that white labor in the north generally resented the presence of Negro competitors and resisted them. And it was not at all unusual for whites to go on strike. Even the girls who were employed in the same factory with them. I've seen of course you had a great deal of integration during that period too so there was this competition there yes. Are you handling that that it exists you had that in you had that competition and you had that resistance coming from the new immigrant groups relevant during this period from about eight hundred seventy seven and then going on to World War 1 and to 19 20. Would you say that the condition of the negro changed much. Do you think it declined or improved.
I would say that certainly after 18 and 77 the year of the so-called overthrow of reconstruction the position of the negro declined steadily down to the end of the century. There was what one author has called the Nay dear in the status of the Negro in this period. This indeed is a period when the segregation now becomes the order of the day. When we get discrimination in the use of public funds so that in many Southern states. The Education of a child of a white child will cost about 12 to 14 dollars and the education of a negro towel costs from two to three dollars. Unfortunately you still have ratios like that in the United States. Across the board yes. Then of course this is the period of the complete discretion Jasmin of a negro. First it was disfranchisement by custom. And practice. And then the dispensary and it was written into the law. So that before the end of the period
the negro as a political factor in the life of the country and particularly in the South had it simply disappeared altogether. Then of course in a family there were lynchings. Lynchings that reached the rate of more than one hundred a year in the decade between like between Akira 90 and 900 and then at the very end of that decade there begins the new urban phenomenon. The race riot. Which ushers the Negro into a new period of terror and ashes the negro status into a new low. As we end of the century. Thank you Dr. Franklin for giving us an background on this important aspect of our history. In a visit with an historian and writer part one. You've heard the first of two interviews with Dr. John Hope Franklin. The visiting scholar series is produced for the Cleveland Board of Education station WBA wi FM by Charles Siegel engineer Dennis Beatty. Your interview or was
Cecilia Evans. This is Lee factory speaking. This is the Board of Education station in Cleveland WB O.E.. This program was distributed by national educational radio. This is the National Education already own network.
Visiting scholars
Dr. John Hope Franklin, part one
Producing Organization
Cleveland Public Schools
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, features an interview with Dr. John Hope Franklin, University of Chicago. Dr. Franklin was a Fulbright professor at several Australian universities, specializing in African-American history.
Series Description
This series features interviews with outstanding scholars from various fields.
Race and Ethnicity
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Interviewee: Franklin, John Hope, 1915-2009
Interviewer: Evans, Cecilia
Producing Organization: Cleveland Public Schools
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-2-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:15:01
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Chicago: “Visiting scholars; Dr. John Hope Franklin, part one,” 1968-02-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 19, 2024,
MLA: “Visiting scholars; Dr. John Hope Franklin, part one.” 1968-02-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Visiting scholars; Dr. John Hope Franklin, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from