Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction by Eric FonerEric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. and Ph.D. In his teaching and scholarship, Foner focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and nineteenth-century America. His Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877, won the Bancroft, Parkman, and Los Angeles Times Book prizes and remains the standard history of the period. His latest book published in 2010 is The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.
In 2006 Foner received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching at Columbia University. He has served as president of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Society of American Historians.
Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877
Where are you on the Gilder Lehrman Institute timeline? Are you a teacher or a student? New content is added regularly to the website, including online exhibitions , videos , lesson plans, and issues of the online journal History Now, which features essays by leading scholars on major topics in American history. In , soon after retiring as president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, embarked with his wife on a two-year tour of the world. At almost every location, he was greeted as a hero. In England, the son of the Duke of Wellington, whose father had vanquished Napoleon, greeted Grant as a military genius, the primary architect of Union victory in the American Civil War.
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, Delawareans became increasingly divided over the issue of slavery. Induced by both economic and religious motives, many slave owners freed their bondsmen during those years, but a few stubbornly refused.
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The Ten-Percent Plan
The Reconstruction era was the period in American history which lasted from to It was a significant chapter in the history of American civil rights. The term has two applications: the first applies to the complete history of the entire country from to following the American Civil War ; the second, to the attempted transformation of the 11 former Confederate states from to , as directed by Congress. Reconstruction ended the remnants of Confederate secession and ended slavery, making the newly freed slaves citizens with civil rights ostensibly guaranteed by three new Constitutional amendments. Three visions of Civil War memory appeared during Reconstruction: the reconciliationist vision, which was rooted in coping with the death and devastation the war had brought; the white supremacist vision, which included segregation and the preservation of the traditional cultural standards of the South; and the emancipationist vision, which sought full freedom, citizenship, and Constitutional equality for African Americans. Johnson favored rapid measures to bring the South back into the Union, allowing the Southern states to determine the rights of former slaves. Radical Republicans in Congress sought stronger, federal measures to upgrade the rights of African Americans, including the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution , while curtailing the rights of former Confederates, such as through the provisions of the Wade—Davis Bill.
The Union victory in the Civil War in may have given some 4 million slaves their freedom, but the process of rebuilding the South during the Reconstruction period introduced a new set of significant challenges. Outrage in the North over these codes eroded support for the approach known as Presidential Reconstruction and led to the triumph of the more radical wing of the Republican Party. During Radical Reconstruction, which began in , newly enfranchised blacks gained a voice in government for the first time in American history, winning election to southern state legislatures and even to the U. In less than a decade, however, reactionary forces—including the Ku Klux Klan—would reverse the changes wrought by Radical Reconstruction in a violent backlash that restored white supremacy in the South. At the outset of the Civil War , to the dismay of the more radical abolitionists in the North, President Abraham Lincoln did not make abolition of slavery a goal of the Union war effort.