thumbnail of American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University
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we think so then the questions can talk to talk about the vicious murder is the room that is you a winner just use the world this is so what if we think of the civil war in terms of its deepest means and not only military terms be on the bough a few reconstruction is in some ways a continuation of the war is the continuation of the
problems that the war in iraq are they the league playing out an acting reconstruction house is the result of an attempt to convert what really were early on primal warm humans into public policy debate in congress are between men with experience this world focus will they are fighting literally about i am on the meaning of that conflict and just not want two three and four years before on the ground in southern society or in the rebuilding of americans are the reconstruction years in the gilded age the creation of some kind of society out of this but if we assume that the hiring construction is the fate of the liberty of the slaves were freed
and the fate of a broadening in its handling of american political and civil liberty for everybody in the thirteen fourteen fifteen months and how those great changes will continue to be enforced is it can to continue playing out of me in support of course eventually reconstruction this is a cholera is extremely hard in terms of vigilante terror against the reconstruction one of the things they want more than what how the gentlest as we speak and how americans feel about what ought to be done the south and what they mean with them what to do with it what they think what we've done with
this is a major urban water use lawyers believe that mormons to do to things to say even to save the government to save the nation's union veterans and so undermine the country will also destroy a slave and then you know i'm reminded each other as often that before the war the destruction that was cool they have defeated the south end of the biggest problems with this political nightmare that slavery because leading up to the war they're crushed and defeated slave that they had done those drums upright and there was a certain victory and that has set in among all of them about the preservation being the defeat of the south the destruction of slavery there wasn't
necessarily clear consensus about what reconstruction tells you to be there certainly wasn't yet a consensus about the extent all of liberty and civil rights for freedom but there was fierce need or desire among white northern end of the civil war to preserve what they had suffered and died for has a great deal to do with why you for at least a short period of time the radical republican vision of reconstruction did manage and the support to stay at least through the restoration of the southern states twenty sixteen nineteen seventeen of course wedding or heroes of american political history americans are also there are nearly reconstruction years responding to events for example at sixty six only a year after the war and in
some terrible riots occurred in the south in memphis and new orleans which are essentially massacres conducted against black communities were dozens of blacks were killed and some of it in sixty six and was in memphis our work it was clear to him looked at is some kind of police action of some kind or are on some kind of occupation was and so i was at least for a short period of time west as a cause dye says at sixty six nineteen sixty seven one not at all certain they want to see black people as citizens and living with equality under the law there is today once again
leading south and they didn't want slavery ended because they have now lives in a generation of political causes mostly and of course the black codes which were established during the summer the teens sixty five and forty eight and sixty four allow two to fruition by andrew johnson's administration black codes and laws passed in some cases seventy such laws past to control and was stripped and constrain was afraid to essentially rendering them basically bombs in a long vacant seat that's little mini property was an insurgency and why people own laws against their mobility and so forth the black holes themselves offended many ways because it seemed like do
you remember then in the wake of wars two years but still the deep and abiding sense of mourning the loss over three hundred thousand sons and fathers and as every family is still mourning emerging to decoration day in many cases it is they're remembering a cause for which they fought and if the south was going to rise again so he controls on political control freak people the events in ferguson silent allow band lucius the mission well into some anyway because it's worn them for me any hints there was a brief period of time the consensus of support for the rival republican plan a reconstruction at least most of
them with their careers and now with the threat of a couple questions about black ones can talk about in the south of black churches and an american missionary organizations these divisions what black church under slavery before the war but often what scholars have come to call the hidden church institutions that have done that in rural areas and russian arms around creatures who would gather a flock sometimes being vigilant to dylan's arm but with the interval can with the flower of the reconstruction laughing so
hard religious organization very often black churches themselves which flourished during reconstruction especially in towns and cities and not just in rural areas the baptist church the black registration at another's puzzle church zion church groups bounced and reconstruction forms the formal coronation during the recession years ago actually more than four times special about his methods became the most powerful community organizations and they became organizations around which the free people could get for a sense of community and then they can get in to talk about the meaning of the right to vote again to talk about the possibilities of land on the
issue quarterly economic data gathering much i'm trying to weigh in in many ways of black church became the current political and became a politically and david always a political quality and i don't really have a political function because blacks roberts has played by sixty seven sixty eight in republican party politics and political means and in forging their own leadership and very often some of these earliest where politicians during reconstruction were many who came out of the church who came out of the ministry a who already has established ally themselves with leadership identities blocking in pulp
and it became a sort of direct path for pulpwood to the legislative goals in republican regimes least in the sixties and seventies the costs in utah can you talk a little about leadership coach people a typical letter to an assistant well soon became politicians during reconstruction in this extraordinary moment of trauma to what political leadership like never before in american history and that one time's camels at this point two thousand years and the referees want free robin jurors you became a minister to sort through the south and work influences and he takes up
residence in patent of his own money and he was working through this coastal regions of georgia i'm george in the way of that emancipation for reconstruction teams are well established his own work isn't for president will follow in st catharines come in georgia and he even created for our people refer to recall will she try to actually run as a political entity who is that you lose the model of the black heart of that or with the white south and soon which is more than his own self in reconstruction work so the vision oil is
ridiculous but he was a grassroots underground organs in a black political and two years of reconstruction he still runs through the construction in jewish it to become a target of the democrats that the target of the redeemer is a year the wake for his work it was also his life was often threaten klan other john laurens issues but as i said he isn't is it is a wonderful example oh an african we educate is very common comes out of allusion more than say who sees reconstruction so
for two reasons i am you to go and that place where this new regime of black political in and so when my floor and he is an assault on the vessels will bluntly you step up stuff all to education rights and political experience and represent speaks to find the language of politics its own peace corps when we talk about terrible terrible well the question of negotiations
what plans have the lamp black leaders working out this news to her story is largely about that one of the ticket can talk about that that that story the land channel show and the negotiations most fundamental issues with landowners with a b ranches works only regime would develop a labor contracts could they negotiate their goal of course was that the owners of the only the land ownership did develop pockets of the south especially where dense populations of free people and where they have a political leadership and where there was some money with which to purchase lion we know that over time by at nine thirty years after the civil war
approximately twenty percent oh wow so on their own property owner only you can debate whether the us is raising of injuries or not seems to be is it well of course just so easily didn't know there was some early land ownership of free people in sixty four and sixty six that is now because these were human cattle and sometimes too and sometimes some luster and certainly skew date no access to financial analysis decrepit that no access to the ways that most people actually purchase land just alone and that's precisely why eventually the land prom very quickly
first people try to rent doesn't work the cash poor society already waiting sixty seven sixty eight the beginnings of sharon supported the idea but you know really wrestling normal whalen owns the property to pay three presidents and share crop interesting enough sharecropping the blanks they didn't have any paid wages as they were in cash rich society governed by catching on but it wasn't it was blacks actually embrace sharecropping in his unusual for us because it gave them a sense and it gave him a piece of land that could see his girl and half the crop of their working on hands which became the
mall doing this a half that was the it also gave him the two navies in the social sense for women to leave you want to control the hours and form of their labor in ways they have not been able to induce labor it gave him some sense of ownership and since the mission of the crime it has some solutions most in which are also led to the corps grew in the first two years of reconstruction as crucial institutions which was you were furnishing merchant the owner of the country store
who now furnished everything to furnish the seafront as the host of the furnace equipment to show and it was the first commercial prices weren't sharecropper and unsure about that did this and this tract of sharecrop two full track and it's a great dream of most of the freedom was to own homeland become independent counsels as what we wanted and there were american politicians who sought god ms bailey there were efforts to establish new redistribution there was one issue voters that we've never had a clear consensus marriages are there is there now a deep and abiding belief in the sanctity of private
property and the idea of taking former wyoming and giving he learns a long term basis no no and he was the star witness that has the privilege of just walking down again nuclear enrichment so beautiful that this is it there's a lot of division of us question about what ought to happen
in terms of restoring the nation watched as no different from any other place variations oh yeah yes yeah yeah one large dc at sixty five is a six part was of course the enemy a postwar mood and also a lot to do with the weight of the lincoln assassination just to have been responsible for it was a mood of competing ideas would have been retribution against the cell phone division right restoration
so i'm going to try the women were just there is the kept in prison he was at that point in prison would remain there for nearly two years well received was the captain charles town jail outside of boston where he was jailed for a short while if there's the revolution will allow the us and she wasn't religious and encouraged to leave the country with his last campaign let him go or executions treason trial and one there were some republicans who were happy to see at least some examples of leadership i put on trial for treason and if convicted execute that never occurred when the americans who want execution
corps captain were resumed but it was also a complicated messy political situation alexander jessie was the president who was is still a little while where you were trying to figure out exactly what his approach to reconstruction are the south was defeated and there was good evidence and at sixty five years since a lot of white southerners leadership in the confederacy would've accepted long rows of harsh treatment marsh policies at that moment were currently at sixty five isn't indigenous oh wow the southern states to restore themselves as fast as possible just kind of reconstruction which was essentially to work as he put it that portion of white southerners
who were loyal quote unquote formula of representatives recently come back to washington the story comes is exactly what they're trying to do a center at city needs some voters themselves reelected including an interesting question during the vice president elect and the times during that four so there was provocation ms vance it was no clear two houses wrap restoration of the union reconstruction is right for us and for some reaction and the reactions why wrestling back into reconstruction policy from
republicans in congress political join comedian reconstruction to investigate so first time in american history a large congressional hearing that we've conducted interviews with republicans one hundred and forty some guests including robbery those people union generals and for jobs freedom through engines ex slaves themselves test informing congress what is the situation so what's going on so what needs to be done and out of that came a series of resolutions a series of realizations moment of public leadership of congress reconstruction to be slowed down but the federal government into the grasses that something had to be done to protect the free people against their former masters the new genes of labor relations have been established and the reconstructions of the last longer more difficult cromwell policy
creation than anyone had conceived in sixty four but this was still the moon plato and romans or the assassination deep bitterness and it was between northern democrats nor republicans say they're waiting weren't sure republicans waiting on one shipment that they got up in the congress and reminded the adults that are democratic islands of course the aisle just how the new owners had bled and died to save the union just so many democrats who want to sue for peace making sixty four in the war and give it up and yet democrats women weren't sure that republicans in their sons to have diversity in our there's no more than you can count and people claiming that their sons are dying for
something somebody else or four genes that are waging a bloody shirt was really all about those first years of reconstruction not going away than were fierce stevens right and now for a short time in the radical plan reconstruction well let's talk a little about things in this whole season has been especially the realization the constitution on at that event while gary stevens and others along the radical republicans waiting sixty five and sixty six helpfully they have their own kind of movement that the reconstruction should be they believe it should be longer long duration
services have left the strongest us and states that believe the census had been converted to what they call calvin charles sumner new episodes visit and what he calls states was this season and says he had to be reinvented oil prices which meant they could only read it under the authority of congress because he is clearly zuma congress created the state's president but they also have a vision the civil war and destruction slowed the creation of black fruit and that had to come sometime somewhat recorded before the war at the heart of the radical plan of reconstruction was actually a very modern conception of government and modernization republicans itself small and there was this idea of activist circle and
activists would take control of this so it would point a military occupation are you perhaps as long as a decade to thaddeus stevens reconstruction means not only safeguard and preserve essential is also the civil war so to say and part in with an image meant taking the lemon sauce and so it meant establishing hospitals by public funds that meant the increase in democracy in terms of representation going to spread of the roads suffrage into seasons even some of the economic and land redistribution to freedom for that point so reconstruction and the radical plan
radical vision was the government must act and it was a kind of blue and establishment are blocks of this of course is that with the first civil rights act just questions and sixty six the creation of the fourteenth amendment and for reconstruction acts and reach a certain size actually were removed the congress is that what we're what's also what's being discussed is the reconstruction of the constitution and that's a fundamental part of this whole vision of what a taco talk about that but also about what's going on either side of whether this should happen
what part of this debate is whether the constitution would be amended and revise and johnson slogan for reconstructions of course the constitution the union as it was the constitution and his unionism was constitution says that says a lot johnson excepted thirty of them chose the insulin was a problem says in war well you will find that except for the ninety nine so he works fiercely against an advocate in southern states not ratified well sometimes resist what is the story and it is and it is the use of federal power to try to
establish political and civil rights for federal authority i guess states in states including recreation something like post ones public funding for the kinds of the solutions done by federal form to the state one that was so revolutionary there's a titanic debate about just with the extensions states rights are going to be just that these stories and there are plenty of americans who live and all right to declare black people citizens as they do in fourteen months fourteen members about the first definition of the citizenship and american history there's already another political culture during reconstruction citizenship should be do or should the state says federal citizenship and that the federal government had
no official or whether state would establish whether the state will allow self a state crippled refund the orphanages and so forth and so on so that those radio station reconstruction that has everything to do with just weeks to go to solidify some kind of equality before the law as an essential result is that there was never any for consensus but just how will stand that should be should not fully surprises because it was a pre revolutionary circumstance most americans still believe ashley hansen no blasting from three of their most americans still essentially believe in that kind of
laissez faire approach to the government or less formal form and i would argue that one of the greatest questions reconstruction phase has a question jensen face ever since and in many ways it gives us a great model or benjamin from which job it's a question of just what does the government towards people with people overcome what is the authority of the federal government to step into society and what it means for social welfare what is the role of the federal government to step in to societies across state borders and stavins says in political than what we have to have a second civil rights revolution pretty sure she was the first was a resolution places rule about but that problem just the many things that it was about that problem just who has the
authority to force called for the state legislature the us congress is the president announced this is the us army this sort of states that accompanies determined little lucia liar all of these kinds of questions we played up in reconstruction news for the first time since a new kind of the radar wasn't raped the tremendous right so if we are to be plus
orthodontist does involve that we have anybody on camera and simply said what the amendments were you sure you're sure you're ok ok well the women standing just who really do not ready americans were for the revolution was radical reconstruction has to think about the way americans view to call the various issues legal ways of human will there's a quality before nature or calling for sure the natural as traditions come from the belief that somehow we are born with certain the cool
capacities a second kind of a court in the development of human history has been this idea of calling for a third kind of a vision of equality even more on that we're still playing every day is this notion of quality we all have the same opportunities now go back to the second definition called for that's a very likely one finds its way into the fourteenth amendment in the constitution arguably the most important sense in the us constitution to this day two thirds of course he's more in case locals in american society now is based decision on the equal protection clause of the fourteenth in place or was very long the name the idea to record
that we ever got a natural rights lawyer before first principles just because that's right you're right i'm going for an establishment of definitions of citizenship because over a month ago americans weren't ready for it didn't have much experience with it and because we're rain columns with an experience of twentieth centuries of racial slave buying layered system believe in white supremacy so many americans in so many thousands of wayne owens would force destroy slavery and they were very consciously afford insurance still operational so what are the jobs
for all sorts of regime believes they fear now the nation's racial mixing this is the age of the florida was about scientific racism that was a belief and she takes hold after the war zones at the black people were in theory is probably erase that he's from this kind of control these boys were very much alive and well along comes from republicans across control of reconstruction for three or four years and it seemed like overnight vets racial equality the west doesn't consist of the unthinkable the idea somehow that form cities serving the legislation lieutenant governor of her state was unthinkable and so i guess it was an
aberration in grueling reconstruction an idea to call it four hours later fourteen reconstruction indian that you know maybe the society was going to farm is the ancient works of religious right vote civil liberties to fundamentally only use all the problem frieden people into society was two time in education only time in education solved the race problem this is the song now it takes a while for that idea took to overcome what was what was forged in radical reconstruction no reasons were on reconstruction work within a short period of time but there was no consensus americans want and not get
riled pushing ideas ahead of any kind of consensus given staff that doesn't mean there were elections with his ged test their work and he says this is an associate summons nineteen seventy the work we have referendums on on the major reconstruction house that's very much also caught up in the context of political warfare or so before the memory of the war where the laws are being asked or early to believe that with a fourth floor go to six hundred and sixty eight they're at least china than a real happy with some features writer reconstruction but they're determined to make sure that your leadership of the sound
This record is featured in “Reconstruction Interviews.”
American Experience
Reconstruction: The Second Civil War
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Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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In the tumultuous years after the Civil War (1863-77), America grappled with how to rebuild itself, how to successfully bring the South back into the Union and how to bring former slaves into the life of the country. Blight talks about Reconstruction as a continuation of the Civil War, Need among Northerners to preserve what they suffered and died for, riots in the South, the black codes, role of black churches, black ministers as politicians, Tunis Campbell, the land problem, sharecropping, restoration of the Union, Thaddus Stevens and Republican plan of reconstruction, use of federal power to establish civil rights, definitions of equality.
Race and Ethnicity
Politics and Government
American history, African Americans, civil rights, racism, Reconstruction, Confederacy, voting rights, slavery, emancipation
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Chicago: “American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 27, 2019,
MLA: “American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 27, 2019. <>.
APA: American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from