thumbnail of American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University, part 1 of 6
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
what was that since the end of the war or worse yet so wrong so so the first questions i said is that his departure is one of the things he's talking about in the midst of the war was a new birth of freedom clearly i think he has in mind a vision of what the war means and we can talk about calais sixty three lincoln speaks of gettysburg in the famous speech he speaks of the rebirth of freedom and the unfinished business of american history and by that point lincoln clearly has the vision that the civil war has become something much larger i mean we're here
to support it's clear like i'm saying the gettysburg address that the destruction of slavery has become equal as a purposeful the war equal to the preservation now at the same time by late and sixty three lincoln and his administration and republicans in congress have already begun to think seriously about postwar reconstruction policies and plans sometimes sure frederick douglass haven't gotten to this speech on the whole mission of the wall and again dozens of times across the martian winter at sixty three sixty four and with those declared his words national regeneration as a nation for the purpose of the war as he led us to it is lincoln's notion of rebirth and a re creation of reinvention somehow the american republic
regeneration through the same agency the great challenge of reconstruction was sort of the one once the war was over one of this city or it ends in quick restoration now two of the constitution very much perhaps the end of slavery but but but not true beginning a new beginning a black civil and political rights across the south and across the nation always something larger something bigger would be a fundamental re creation of american republic was the civil war a novel by at sixty three on its last two years the flying out of a second american road reconstruction becomes that kind of great challenge of the challenge or deciding just what the verdict about the mixes and just
who actually won the war and what it becomes a struggle eventually reconstruction becomes a kind of long agonizing referendum on the meeting and the memory of the civil war but it doesn't begin the discussion of reconstruction plan for reconstruction has begun in the midst of war but just how the union would be restored once the war was wrong political polarization you know
so so agonizing construction is a kind of referendum on new orleans since that first debate over just how the south would be raw vegan or just what the extent of what freedom written in a just how that's confederates would be treated under the law and what it meant to restore the southern states actually truly seceded and so the relationship with the american union unraveling you know they have not this became sort of hair splitting debate over constitutional theory but the basis of lincoln's theory of reconstruction was a sensation not really fully left the dr jenkins that was essentially impossible for them believe me
and therefore i am all that had to be done with some states is to restore them back to their normal relationship with him on the contrary they are in a country that the services have officially for long suffered the relationship with the secession and destroying on their status as a state and summer stevens is vision of reconstruction services will happen they would be treated with foreign entities foreign governments hard so fundamental differences already there between landing and the radical and so hard by referendum a settlement that in elections
and political debate americans to fight just how they were going to restore the southern states to being one of the great realities that or planners and thinkers of the reconstruction phase of court so we're going to go really in essence that the south was not a counter foreign problems there were americans there were four states it was in every way the civil war on the other the reality of the most visible out a warrant to essentially crushed southern society did sort of those destroyers political entity called the viruses which didn't become a government that even manage some form recognition some legitimacy during the war there was no blueprint for this that the reason our constitution
what you do is they see coming out of civil war and there's nothing in the constitution that really gave people a blueprint americans had to fight this out both constitutional theory more importantly the political reality and the issue is this is whether reconstruction is going to be a restoration of the old one creation is the civil war going to be a kind of second american revolution and lead to a truer vision of the constitution because or is it going to be returned to sometimes status quo ante bellum more than johnsen you know that what do you know that is in the constitution as it was touched on this is that that's great touches on this question of the patient and you could say that this is also competing
they're competing visions for what emancipation says well great challenge of reconstruction also is two to define the dimensions of what freedom as we know it and sixty three the destruction of slavery and into sixty four by certain well the final year of the war the destruction of slavery has become the policy of the union war ii it has become the purpose of the war to a great extent and it has legitimized been verified as never before by reelection laminate and sixty four by the overwhelming majority of the soldier vote that the us and the eu coalitions and consensus that the republicans put together to test the thirteenth man at the first of the greats of mormons which abolished slavery and the volunteers recruited are and also witnesses have a second
provision amendment in the constitution that second provision for the soul of our slavery but it said that congress shall have the authority past all necessary legislation to uphold and the answer what emancipation simply mean that sways would be freed into some kind of status as an apprentice as apprentices with the lawyers essentially a payday or political rights with babies second class citizens at best to essentially civil rights with amal emancipation the british empire be used with them are women station french authorities or what emancipation leaked establishment ward says she stabs itself or political liberties
and eventually when we two forms the economic and social korea is well on you his greatest weakness just what would be in that dimension this idea of calling before the law which was the essential principle that drove the route republican vision reconstruction team used as long as they control we also want to have a big influence to sort of create a sense of emotional a sort where the conference walt whitman writes this profile and
the loss that they suffered can talk about values as a western edge of just what one of the world where we are how extensive is that suffering and how caucuses the country well most harrowing dilemmas though americans faced at the end of the civil war so why wasn't this too and so nearly every american family that don't touch your start were damaged by this war known as a defeat in many regions told he wants so what's up the same two instances to a non fans who lost over three hundred thousand union soldiers the war were chill six hundred and twenty thousand americans and battled us about a disease possibly one point two million have been wounded in maine but it was the scale of suffering that americans had never imagined
before in fact if you were to take the number of deaths in the american civil war and transfer them had the year of the vietnam war per capita according to the population were lost during the vietnam war more than four million people live in paris including just imagine those turn on vietnam where we lost about sixty thousand americans for so many americans or four million deaths in war and you have some sense of the state of mortality and softens it was alive on the first of the challenges of reconstruction is it meaningful and our great death toll will win on women began to write the song and socialist drew is has served as a nurse in washington
and as great as well rogers says this visitation dinosaur it's a journey into the woods is a journey into the essential individual level so bianco says the encores the ivories were human being goes through dying of consumption and dysentery or imitations but of course we humans are reportedly wrote wrote perhaps the greatest american workers which is a great challenge to lincoln after the assassination and not only what captures as no one else does and in the depths of collected more than americans experienced through lincoln's assassination
he also manages to capture our substance revival some sense of hope might yet come out of such suffering from such an experience by telling us about a song sparrow the seas off the hero is often slow and i'm older lots of using the average earnings we were going they're beginning to participate in what cameron american tradition she was the creation of the world which is also funded woman embraces tickets find the voice for this terrible suffering in the same
time which i think is nationally also in his own way as a nozzle particular view about the ig investigation how is that the end of a war or what is it important for a very good reason and i'm a great admirer of weapons as well but what was on the racial tensions and his own beliefs to capacities of a free people right right whitman thought that lots of reasons that he thought that the radical republicans are planning reconstruction and insular lives marco arment and to political life was a mistake one of his jobs in the postwar period
was serving as a clerk in the johnson administration and eating sixty eight in sixty three sixty nine process our local union and asia where women had a way of seeing into democracy with a depth of fuel a few others the essence of democracy to what was now isn't word biracial city is the site of his humanity so when you look at the same time that computing power is going to shift from the water shifted show
and a lot of those say what can we talk about you know the idea of who treatment is and what he embodies the terms of thing that was in the moment and things start with that the shoe wellington says sherman commander of union armies and georgia was no racial liberal sherman did not allowing our troops and his arm was shot in georgia and at sixty four from tennessee it was no one of the numbers of refugees lazy began to form around his arm sharma would prefer to prosecute this war without the destruction slowed pretty clearly comes to see it can be done as part and parcel of now conquer in the south and nobody advance that idea will perform that purpose to a greater extent the show began to understand or to
conquer the southwest in the heartland of the deeds your conference on social institutions you're disrupting and destroying it says its infrastructure its transportation systems and eventually of course mrs bronson says by the time sherman resisted line in the written line campaign yet thousands of slaves in situations of dislocation over northern georgia sherman's march on and lamb and especially sherman's march to the sea puerto rico's was just in georgia where you wish that's one of the many men where iran's of the civil war and it's of course by the time sharman reaches the coast when he reached liberty county georgia and turn left as georgia's water and moved to savannah the chairman realized
that he had to have some advice he had to have some information on what to do with the several thousand black fugitive slave free people refugees in fountain you put out called of a local black ministers of the region becoming insular this extraordinary encounter to actually advice on what he might do and they did indeed in february eighteen sixty five that meeting sherman didn't stay for the entirety of the sectarian war stand was that members of sherman's general sat with an m mrs who selected this issue french spoken and the colony the exchange that occurs between sherman stanton union generals and reverend frazier islamic
sharia law says a war on unions because they asked regime not just want to do all these refugees ask them questions about what the world asked him questions about what the emancipation proclamation they asked him what the presence of black troops and army meant they even asked him about his own ideas about what the government might do about reconstruction and more than the rich and it was your final destination and garrison frazier is that the incident in many ways what's more frazier told sherman stanton is that this war had become a war much much larger than most americans understood to be its outset did become a war not just black freedom but the large and fruitful
and isn't that is that there's a point in the discussions we're frazier echelons of beautiful definition of freedom itself which essentially says it is the right to the fruits of your own show it has a right to have basic liberties guaranteed the declaration of independence this was a man nevertheless was probably course in jordan's life against the issue beyond that he's a vet us her rights and you should protect our rights and then usually there's a long distances in the desert with his lawyers and so the question is that
one of these genes do sure lucy's alone in general how in washington to see whether there are calls from around the country four of the wagering and it's also in the context of the depredations of the destruction that the chairman has an acting across georgian two hundred and fifty miles to the sea and sixty miles wide sure if he could have his way wanted nothing to do with those refugee friedman in how western armies intro if he does it might be it might be a hero of the military conquer something must also be done with this situation of the freed slaves after all is what the war is doing and so it has a lot of washington calls this gathering of black ministers to come up with
some kind of answer and schumann got more answers than he bargained for that that meeting with reverend frazier and the other creatures came sure and since you a number fifteen which is sharon's or that region of coastal georgia and south carolina from south carolina through georgian going on for about two hundred and fifty miles from south to north and about twenty miles and says one major part of the cotton kingdom rise does the cia and region of georgia and south carolina that entire region service for the exclusive so a free people of the families of its ways that screen so they would begin possessing returns to the line but over time they would be allowed to pay for the plan with their proceedings that will be divided up
into forty acre plot that was one of the places that this notion of a promise of forty acres and a mule soccer the mules were really prosper is one of the places that this notion that for years and you came into the american language and indeed impressively twenty thousand black families all of listeners were so earnestly many in forty eight in may and at sixty five year was a real revolution revolution in the land on the lam chance to to be their own freeholders to create their own group and that's some of these twenty thousand white families didn't first free morrison certain they consist of president andrew johnson overturn to memphis oh that's that began bistro
the titanic constitution between johnson and republican congress just another chance to remember fifteen and return that way to its formal form of whale any head most of those freed removed from the island a poem by an early human was the beginning of a series of what the three people in the south would consider the trail of the promise of reconstruction win win win does this prove that that there was sort of a musician sharon comes to savannah talk a little bit about and some reason is that businesses and he does represent the end of the war you know what how the street obviously you this crusade called soldiers
for you are white southerners were suspicious of a limited man what concerns but germans argue that germans aren't was of course seen by mostly viewed as an animal liberation and usually that's a kind of historical because harvey sherman germans were also confiscating property of some celebrities you know these so they took was our food they burn what they didn't need that torso in ruins the plantations in the wake of the war the government establishment is going through these claims commission particularly county georgia which is where she was on time
nor are there were there were many claims made by freedom against the union armies for the festival a whole theft of their tools theft of some of the crop so the complicated relationship that was free but in some cases it's a sometimes destroying their own parents and their own livelihoods they knew it because that's part of the campus to war it's part of the tragedy or to buy which means a patient to come why serbs a question you would have no greater than william tecumseh sherman the more the butcher the va general who who destroyed georgian time i was doing research and south carolina state has amassed about a certain kind of collection that they have this collection americans to be a quick simple answer she said no
schoenberg associates survey shows and well and which ones century so for one long waits the whole line of sherman's march to the sea to savannah ms marcia south carolina's march left a deep and abiding legacy of a kind of war was that this was no and there's a lot to debate just how much the civil war was the first modern war the first hole warm and so forth this campaign donation was colson we're the same amount of war because it was the war of devastation on the society on shindig burn times he destroyed transportation systems he destroyed crops his goal is the central goal was to obliterate the sounds
of international symbol of troops who've mentioned his body so yeah how sharon comes in this moment and then everything is up for grabs as i know there's no blueprint there's no blueprint for sherman as though african americans there's nothing for white southerners is this as the us loses those your allegiance rating agencies define as the civil war in the south was many verses are worries that devastation and care there were an estimated two hundred and fifty thousand refugees
whyte lived at one point or another in the wake of sherman's army to what refugees are people starting to cross the color line if you like one of the reasons that the refugees first created in a forum in february or march nineteen sixty four was the deal is part of the massive refugees to feed people it was the first ever attempt in american history born of sheer necessity to create something like a federal social welfare structure the feed store institutions but you know those sounds and chaos you have this massive union earning about to be demobilized and so that was that was a
rapid mobilization don't only about fifty thousand troops and citizens the rest of the country will face the bitter and defeated he was you have four thousand free slaves many home that first on a kind of wandering situation and they want for a variety of reasons sometimes i wonder to find their loved ones many of them were similar numbers of them twenty or twenty five find contraband camps which were established all when the solution women of the south including some cities like washington ms carol those dislocations
in washington in the circles of military leadership you have another great challenge of what do you do what that what's your new order do you stage and in a year you have the great questions in reconstruction immediately there were people face court will rule in south korea so what will the dimensions of what freedom be those questions have to be answered in the happiest relatively soon it was eighteen years ago and it just seemed to disappear in line with what many of the republicans perhaps want a lot of reconstruction but very soon became clear that andrew johnson a rapid the restoration with his little alteration of the
constitution creation a black civil rights as possible sixty five beginning the struggle dwayne johnson get this situation deep bitterness and part of what's in a conquering army that now is ten to twelve percent of the black soldiers and in fact a large percentage of the wessel well home and much of the occupation troops western south in the first year after the war by design black troops and nothing nothing in nature was quite as much as those russians occupying black soldiers in
the mist because there is a reminder of the revolution and the continued this idea of being on the ground you talk about that the chasm between free slaves former slaves and their former owners will begin another national budget question here on the ground in the county how busy what their options while most complex difficult relationships all these issues ms alicia this new relationship playing out through the warriors one slice became free of course that continent many sectors where they were unleashed a war and russian armies paulson played an important times outside playing for is rooted in sixty one sixty two
sovereign very densely populated as costly this is a breakup now generations of relationships and a forced creation of some kind of new regime some kind relationship it's a very difficult emotional trial for whites and what we know from from starship from oral history that it was impossible for freed slaves they had a sense of dylan as an ownership were a recent scholarship that was sort of the region that share in concord as a proper
in coastal georgia and south carolina and the great cotton plantations and slaves for her generation were protests which left eight they worked so many hours a day for the masters or so many days a week the master in return they'd at least two days or so many hours a week for themselves with their own private garden private space no tools and some allies it is a boring couple of very complicated relationship with it wasn't clear yet one place in many ways for the free people this was also deeply spiritual deeply religious experience it was the promise of jubilee of the old testament it was the kind of the war that was the kind of an irony that limerick they didnt care of shannon was racist usually in care summer lyle soldiers justice and killer terror how as freedom and
they saw you know brazil argentina and they saw the lincoln inn in washington for it for his larger leadership emerging but still would have to be worked out in the south some kind of new labor relationship will be great challenges of reconstruction or free labor be willing to pay wages what they'd be allowed to rent planning because they still wage labor was wage labor and social contract system in a society that is so cash poor and had no credit that a strip search would be in some way just really for most of the frame and they're actually clear on one thing welcome sir how that would be established anything to do with their new relationship with her former masters and
also a lot to do the policies that will be formed in washington and how living forced both the union and by business digital frontier that's quite constructive second his mom says one of the day oh the story of well china is the story in full of bullets crossan room is here it's a pretty terrible revolution will
be a message it will only be in your words and shows most of the seasons and he calls this meeting with the ordinances and for the remaining months and a half to two months of war it as a revolution or a chaotic situation there was no script for reconstruction is anything winning the war by comparison was easier than now
that eighty nine state's political process and registration was a massive logistical constitution and now face the challenge of all that mobilized to defeat assad and ecru are designers in the history of the world but the prosecutor declined to do there was already a rich debate is a certain sense at sixty three or who plans of reconstruction which was essentially a constitutional debate with soaring with howitzers that he restored and how quickly would it be restored and that was the beginnings of the debate about the question of black manhood suffrage with dick or when that might occur but it was not much of a debate yet about what to do with four men freed slaves hundreds of
thousands well starting with refugees o'connor defeated devastated south park that destroyed economy in many regions of the south rivers that now i have to be dredged because boards of them some cities that have been burned americans face for the first time in history the landscape is season crops in a cotton and a whole section overpopulation was their psyche their spirit their society and responsibility was to come up with a plane to reconstruct it to re stories but you also have to do this deep buying division race slavery course in american racial slur and destruction and slavery in the south was not just a surgeon later says it was no chance of some
kind of new regime of race relations there said that you have joe sherman who would prefer not to free shalit is free millions you have the reasons the fragments of black ministers who are their leadership with these churches themselves face to face with richard talking about latino and back in washington and other republicans in his own party for that matter are democrats losing recent elections the president nevertheless democrats have ideas of it reconstruction distances conception but nobody has the perfect job
look up and figure out what do we had scripted a small part but if anything it was a great choice and challenging wall and as elected and also why americans ever since i found it hard to study it look closely and even an attempt to focus on in schooling and education because the supporters of a microcosm for dramatic view of one sided instant for fundamental result is a great drama great military groups great political view and it was more enough to go around reconstruction is the messy side of the law and it's a huge challenge to all idea of what america was supposed to be reconstruction was a decade long process of trying to figure out just what war detroit
American Experience
Reconstruction: The Second Civil War
Raw Footage
Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University, part 1 of 6
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-2r3nv9b373).
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 referendum on the meaning of the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment and emancipation, dealing with all the deaths from the war, Walt Whitman, William Sherman, Garrison Frazier, Field Order No. 15, Sherman's March, the South in chaos, relationships between former masters and former slaves.
Race and Ethnicity
Politics and Government
American history, African Americans, civil rights, racism, Reconstruction, Confederacy, voting rights, slavery, emancipation
(c) 2004-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Release Agent: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: barcode116352_Blight_01_SALES_ASP_h264 Amex 864x486 (unknown)
Duration: 0:47:44

Identifier: cpb-aacip-15-2r3nv9b373.mp4 (mediainfo)
Format: video/mp4
Generation: Proxy
Duration: 00:47:43
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University, part 1 of 6,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 9, 2020,
MLA: “American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University, part 1 of 6.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 9, 2020. <>.
APA: American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War; Interview with David W. Blight, Historian, Yale University, part 1 of 6. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from