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MOOC | Eric Foner - The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1865-1890 | Sections 1 through 9

Learn about the political, social, and economic changes in the Union and the Confederacy and the Civil War’s long-term economic and intellectual impact.

In The Unfinished Revolution: Reconstruction and After, 1865-1890, Professor Eric Foner examines the pivotal but misunderstood era of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War, the first effort in American history to construct an interracial democracy. Beginning with a discussion of the dramatic change in historians’ interpretations of the period in the last two generations, Foner goes on to discuss how Reconstruction turned on issues of continued relevance today. Among these are: who is an American citizen and what are citizens’ rights; what is the relationship between political and economic freedom; which has the primary responsibility for protecting Americans’ rights – the federal or state governments; and how should public authorities respond to episodes of terrorism? The course explores the rewriting of the laws and Constitution to incorporate the principle of equality regardless of race; the accomplishments and failings of Reconstruction governments in the South; the reasons for violent opposition in the South and for the northern retreat from Reconstruction; and the consolidation at the end of the 19th century of a new system of white supremacy.

This course is part of the series, The Civil War and Reconstruction, which introduces students to the most pivotal era in American history. The Civil War transformed the nation by eliminating the threat of secession and destroying the institution of slavery. It raised questions that remain central to our understanding of ourselves as a people and a nation — the balance of power between local and national authority, the boundaries of citizenship, and the meanings of freedom and equality. The series will examine the causes of the war, the road to secession, the conduct of the Civil War, the coming of emancipation, and the struggle after the war to breathe meaning into the promise of freedom for four million emancipated slaves. One theme throughout the series is what might be called the politics of history — how the world in which a historian lives affects his or her view of the past, and how historical interpretations reinforce or challenge the social order of the present.

See other courses in this series:

The Civil War and Reconstruction - 1850-1861
The Civil War and Reconstruction - 1861-1865

"The Civil War and Reconstruction" course series is Copyright © 2014 and 2015, Eric Foner and the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Except where otherwise noted. Professor Foner’s course lecture videos in the series are licensed with the Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA 4.0, which means that anyone anywhere may copy, share, adapt, and remix the videos and the videos’ key media components, including transcripts, without having to ask for prior permission, as long as such sharing is done for noncommercial purposes and the original author, work, and copyright and Creative Commons notice above are cited. For more information, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
Learn about the political, social, and economic changes in the Union and the Confederacy and the Civil War’s long-term economic and intellectual impact.

In The Unfinished Revolution: Reconstruction and After, 1865-1890, Professor Eric Foner exami...
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