Tag Archives: republicans

Reconstruction, Revolutions, and the Economy

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.02.36 AMI often speak with my students about the various “revolutions” that transpired over the course of the Reconstruction Era. Freedom, citizenship, and suffrage for former slaves are without question revolutionary. But there was an extent to just how revolutionary things would get – and thus we have the notion of revolutions unfinished. Black people enjoyed civil equality but not social equality; they got the vote, but not political determinism. Generally speaking, by 1868 Republicans (with only some success) shifted their attentions to moderation and economic development. Some might think that they wholesale abandoned freedmen – that getting the South on its feet and once again engaged in the national economy took precedent over black peoples’ definition of freedom . Here is a question for current students of the period: is it safe to say that Republicans were more interested in catering to outside investors than blacks’ rights as Americans?  Was equality before the law enough?

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