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HIST212: Introduction to United States History - Reconstruction to the Present

Unit 1: Reconstruction   Even before the last shots of the Civil War had been fired, President Lincoln and members of Congress faced serious questions about how to rebuild and reunite the war-torn United States and provide for nearly four million former slaves. The way in which the government responded to these questions shaped and defined the period now known as Reconstruction, the 12-year period following the Civil War from 1865 to 1877.

Reconstruction was a time of significant political and social change in the United States. In this unit, we will take a look at the controversial origins of Reconstruction and evaluate its successes and failures. We will also examine how former slaves struggled against prejudice and political repression in the American South as they attempted to build new lives for themselves and their families. Finally, we will ask why Reconstruction came to an abrupt end in 1877 and evaluate its political and social legacy in the United States.

Unit 1 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 9.25 hours.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 3.25 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 3 hours

☐    Unit 1 Assessment: 1 hour

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- identify the objectives of presidential and congressional Reconstruction following the Civil War and assess the impact of Reconstruction on Caucasian and African-American residents of the American South; and - analyze and interpret primary source documents from the nineteenth century using historical research methods.

  • Reading: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 7: The Civil War and Reconstruction” Link: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 7: The Civil War and Reconstruction” (PDF)

    Instructions: Scroll down to the section titled “With Malice toward None,” and read through the remainder of the article.

    This chapter from America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History compares the post-war political goals of President Andrew Johnson with the goals of the Radical Republicans that controlled Congress during and after the Civil War. It also discusses the major political events that led to the end of Reconstruction in 1877.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Reconstruction to the Great Depression” Link: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Reconstruction to the Great Depression” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch the video until the 4:46 mark, which covers the post-Civil War Reconstruction years. Note that this resource also covers subunits 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1.1, 3.1.1, 3.2.1-3.2.3, 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.2.1, 5.2.2, and 5.4.2.

    Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to the Khan Academy and the original version can be found here.

1.1 The Politics of Reconstruction   1.1.1 Presidential Reconstruction   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 39 – Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction Plans, Presidential Reconstruction” Link: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: ** “Lesson 39 – Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction Plans, Presidential Reconstruction” (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch the first section of the video presentation titled “Presidential Reconstruction.” Read the accompanying text and click on the links titled “Amnesty Proclamations” and “Wade-Davis Bill.”

    This presentation discusses President Abraham Lincoln’s and President Andrew Johnson’s plans for Reconstruction following the Civil War. Both men offered generous terms of reconciliation to the defeated southern states and hoped to reintegrate these state back into the Union politically, economically, and socially as quickly and painlessly as possible.

    Exploring this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Fordham University: Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of President Andrew Johnson’s “Proclamation Declaring the Insurrection at an End” Link: Fordham University: Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of President Andrew Johnson’s “Proclamation Declaring the Insurrection at an End” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: In this 1866 proclamation, President Andrew Johnson notes all the official statements made by the U.S. government during the Civil War about the South being in a state of rebellion against the Union. He then concludes that civil order and police authority have been restored to the South, and it is no longer officially in a state of insurrection. Johnson’s proclamation opened the door for these states to rejoin the Union politically, economically, and socially. After reading this document, consider the following questions: What does this document tell us about President Johnson’s opinion of the Confederate States of America and the concept of secession? What does this document reveal concerning Johnson’s position on the rights of Americans under the U.S. Constitution? How might the views expressed by Johnson here help explain his later opposition to Congressional Reconstruction (see subunit 1.1.2 below).
     
    Reading this document should take approximately 20 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain. 

1.1.2 Radical (Congressional) Reconstruction   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 39 – Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction Plans, Congressional Reconstruction” Link: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History“Lesson 39 - Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction Plans, Congressional Reconstruction” (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch the third section of the lesson titled “Congressional Reconstruction.” Read the accompanying text and click on the links titled “Reconstruction Districts” and “Constitutional Amendments.”
     
    This presentation discusses the role that Congress played in Reconstruction. Congressional Republications objected to President Andrew Johnson’s weak Reconstruction policies that allowed former Confederates to re-enter political office and did little to protect the civil rights of newly freed African-Americans. They passed important Constitutional amendments guaranteeing blacks voting rights and U.S. citizenship. Congress also ordered the U.S. Army to establish military districts in the South in order to enforce these new laws. Southern states could regain home rule only after they agreed to ratify the new civil rights legislation.
     
    Exploring this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Groningen: American History: From Revolution to Reconstruction: US Congress’ “Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction” Link: University of Groningen: American History: From Revolution to Reconstruction: US Congress’ “Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: In this June 20, 1866 report, Northern Republicans in Congress challenged President Andrew Johnson’s plans to allow Southern states to once again elect senators and representatives. The congressmen argued that the Southern states voluntarily withdrew from the Union and consequently lost their right to elect members to Congress. They asserted that Southern states should only be allowed to return members to Congress once they have reorganized their state governments and addressed civil rights concerns. After reading this document, consider the following questions: What reasons were given in this congressional report for suspending the rights of some of the inhabitants of the former Confederacy? According to this report, why was it necessary to guarantee the rights of the African American freedmen? How would the proposals made in this report enable the Republican Party to dominate in the states of the former Confederacy?
     
    Reading this webpage should take approximately 20 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.3 The Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson   - Web Media: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 40 – The End of Reconstruction, Impeachment of Johnson” Link: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 40 - The End of Reconstruction” (Flash)
 
Instructions: Watch the first section titled “Impeachment of Johnson.” Read the accompanying text and click on the link titled “Articles of Impeachment.”

 This presentation discusses the impeachment trial of President
Andrew Johnson. Radical Republicans in Congress objected to
Johnson’s sympathetic attitude toward the South and passed the
Military Reconstruction Act and civil rights legislation over his
veto. When Johnson challenged Congress’s power to oversee
Reconstruction efforts, the House of Representatives drew up
impeachment charges against him and put him on trial. Johnson was
not impeached, but he did leave office once his term expired.  
    
 Exploring this resource should take approximately 20 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 The African American Experience of Reconstruction   1.2.1 Opportunities and Obstacles   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 40 - The End of Reconstruction” Link: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 40 - The End of Reconstruction” (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch the second section titled “The Reconstructed South”. Also, read the accompanying text and click on the link titled “Black Suffrage.”

    This presentation focuses on the lives of African Americans in the South following the Civil War. It discusses the role that Blacks played in Southern politics during Reconstruction and the violent reaction by Southern Whites against free Blacks.
     
    Exploring this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Oklahoma College of Law: A Chronology of US Historical Documents: Frederick Douglass’ “Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage” Link: University of Oklahoma College of Law: A Chronology of US Historical Documents: Frederick Douglass’ “Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read this document.
     
    In this 1867 appeal to Congress, prominent African American advocate, Frederick Douglass discusses the importance of voting rights. He warns the members of Congress that Southern White Democrats will unite with Northern Democrats to regain control of the federal government if the Republicans in Congress do not enforce voting rights for African Americans. If the Democrats secure control of Congress, they will stop enforcing civil rights laws and take away African Americans hard-won freedoms. After reading this document, consider the following questions: In his appeal, what arguments does Frederick Douglass employ to persuade Congress to grant African Americans the right to vote? According to Douglass, what would be the negative consequences of denying African Americans the right to vote? To what extent were Douglass’s warnings prophetic (see subunit 1.3.3)?

    Reading this document should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The material above is available in the public domain. 

1.2.2 Oppression and Exodus   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 39 – Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction Plans” Link: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 39 - Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction Plans” (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch the second section titled “The Black Codes.” Read the accompanying text and click on the link titled “Mississippi Black Codes.”
     
    This presentation discusses the political measures that many Southern states enacted after the Civil War to limit the civil rights of free African Americans. Black Codes restricted African Americans’ ability to organize politically, defend themselves from White oppression, and work in jobs of their choosing.
     
    Exploring this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: United States Library of Congress: African American Odyssey: “Reconstruction and Its Aftermath” Link: United States Library of Congress: African American Odyssey“Reconstruction and Its Aftermath” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Part 1 and Part 2. This resource focuses on African American experiences in the South and North in the decades after the Civil War.

    Exploring this reading should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

1.3 The Failure of Reconstruction   1.3.1 The Election of 1876   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 40 – The End of Reconstruction” Link: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 40 - The End of Reconstruction” (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch the third section titled “Reconstruction Ends.” Also, read the accompanying text. Note that this media addresses the topics for sections 1.3.1-1.3.3.
     
    This presentation focuses on the political and economic turmoil in the United States during 1870s. Economic panic and political corruption in the federal government distracted many Americans in the North from the ongoing social and legal problems that African Americans faced in the South. The disputed election of 1876 enabled Democrats to make a compromise with Republicans that ended Reconstruction in exchange for Republican Rutherford B. Hayes gaining the presidency. The end of Reconstruction allowed southern states to restore unjust racial codes that openly discriminated against African Americans.

    Exploring this resource should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.2 The End of Reconstruction   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Successes and Failures of Reconstruction” Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Successes and Failures of Reconstruction (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this lecture, which presents an overview of Reconstruction, the period of time following the Civil War when Northern leaders attempted to reintegrate the South back into the Union politically, economically, and socially. It focuses on the successes and failures of the effort.

    Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to The Saylor Foundation.

1.3.3 The “New South”: Southern Redemption and Racial Injustice   Note: This topic is also covered by the video at the beginning of Unit 1.

  • Web Media: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 41 - The New South, Race Relations in the New South” Presentation Link: University of California: UC College Prep’s US History: “Lesson 41 - The New South” (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch the third section titled “Race Relations in the New South” and read the accompanying text.
     
    This presentation examines efforts by Whites in many southern states to marginalize Blacks politically and socially through legislation and violence. It also addresses Black reactions to White racism.
     
    Exploring this resource should take approximately 45 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Smithsonian National Museum of American History: Separate is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education: “Segregated America” and “The Battleground: Separate and Unequal Education” Link: Smithsonian National Museum of American History: Separate is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education: “Segregated America” and “The Battleground: Separate and Unequal Education” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read “Segregated America” and “The Battleground.” These readings and images provide an overview of the emergence of the segregated South.

    This reading should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: Cornell University Law School: Legal Information Institute: The United States Supreme Court, Justice Brown’s “Opinion of the Court: Plessy v. Ferguson” Link: Cornell University Law School: Legal Information Institute: The United States Supreme Court, Justice Brown’s “Opinion of the Court: Plessy v. Ferguson (PDF)
     
    Instructions: In this 1896 ruling, Justice Brown of the US Supreme Court presents the majority opinion of the court, which affirms a Louisiana state court’s ruling that racial segregation in railroad cars does not violate the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. The Plessy v. Ferguson case provided the legal basis for segregation of all public facilities in most southern states for the next fifty years. After reading this document, consider the following questions: How does this Supreme Court decision distinguish between political and social equality? How did this distinction shape this Supreme Court decision? In this decision, what is the relationship between state government and the federal government? How does this decision compare to the later Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954 (see subunit 8.1.1)?
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Unported License. It is attributed to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University, and the original version can be found here

Unit 1 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Reconstruction” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Reconstruction” (PDF)

 Instructions: Complete this written assessment. When you are
finished, check your work against this [“Guide to
Responding”](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/HIST212-Guide-to-Responding-Unit-1.FINAL_.pdf) (PDF).  

 Completing this assessment should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). It is
attributed to The Saylor Foundation.