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Essay on Reconstruction Historiography

After the civil war, a period of academic discourse and reconstruction began. In this period, various scholars sprung to discuss various issues pertaining the American history and build the history from different perspectives. These historical figures grasped all the concepts revolving around American history and tried to develop new perceptions concerning the historical reconstruction and redemption of the states. In simple terms, reconstruction points to the effort to restore states and redefine the American community (“The American Yawp” par.1). Much of the reconstruction revolved between 1863 and 1877, pointing out some of the most prominent historical figures in this particular period. Among the various historical figures who presented an argument on reconstruction history include W.B. DuBois in “Black Reconstruction in America,” Dunning’s Failure of reconstruction and Eric Foner and “American Unfinished Revolution.” Although each of these figures had a different motive in the reconstruction of American history, each of the figures significantly contributed to building a reputable reconstruction history of its time. The arguments on the reconstruction of American history are arguably traced back to the reconstruction period (Parfait 1). Each historical figure provided sentimental beliefs and thoughts on American history built from facts and figures that had a clear perception of American history. However, most of the reconstruction covered the slavery period and before enslaved people were freed, with most of the questions surrounding the freedmen (Parfait 2). As a result, it provided a solid platform to reconstruct the American’s fortune history.

In Dubois’s “Black Reconstruction in America,” most of his ideas revolved around the black man. W. E. B. Du Bois covered a lot of history on black and white workers and how each of these workers was treated in the American states (W. E. B. Du Bois 670). Although W. E. B. Du Bois reconstructed most of the American pro-slavery history and documented most of the prominent events revolving around the Americans; most of the focus in his reconstruction covered the Negros. He focused his work on discussing the life of black people in America, reconstructing who they are and how they were treated among the Americans. W. E. B. Du Bois’s reconstruction revolved in the ‘Back to Slavery” period, with most of the reconstruction work covering the slavery period, pointing out the events after the slavery. W. E. B. Du Bois covered the lives of the formerly enslaved people and the hardships they underwent after the slavery period, and how each of them had to cope with the new lifestyles and bring about the good in themselves and their families. A good point is seen in his documentation of a blacksmith’s wife story who had to walk over 30 miles a day to cover for the family (W. E. B. Du Bois 672). Although this might be a mare detail, it adds up to most of the reconstruction story and creates a significant impact in the reconstruction of American history. Additionally, W. E. B. Du Bois documents economic inflation that covered this reconstruction period and how most parties focused on economic selflessness, which was fractured (W. E. B. Du Bois 673). Apart from these common aspects, W. E. B. Du Bois also pointed out the state of lawlessness between 1865 and 1868.

Apart from W. E. B. Du Bois Eric Foner also had a share in the reconstruction of American history. He played a more significant part in formulating and placing the events in American history in orderly and sequential segments orderly and sequential segments that produced a reconstructive argument on the history. In his work, Foner focused on providing a systematic reconstruction that allowed historians to have a clear picture of most of the events taking place in the American historical cycle. As seen in the epic film “The Birth of a Nation” by Griffiths, which presents an epical view of the American past through an epical drama, Foner also had a clear view of American history and reconstruction (Ebert par. 8-10). Some of the factors that gave Foner a respective reconstruction standpoint is his “powerful analytical framework,” which mostly acted as a base to correct the work of other historians and provide a strong argument on the need to embrace distinctive reconstruction away from the racial attitudes that most of the historians employed in their reconstruction 1336). The pull and pull between the southern region and other regions in 1868, which contributed to the blacks gaining popularity leading to the win in 1876, is among the work that Foner focuses on. “according to Foner, “the major reason that reconstruction was a failure was that ex-slaves were given no land of their own to farm, so they had no economic power. Eric Foner considers this one of the main reasons reconstruction failed” (Foner). This points out the hardship that ex-slaves faced during the reconstruction period, justifying DuBois’s work in the black reconstruction. Moreover, it points out the gap between the two groups and how each showed possible argumentative preservation that allowed historians to gain a platform to detail and produce a good reconstruction.

Similar to Foner and W. E. B. Du Bois also provided good scripts of American history reconstructed in scripts. At an early age, with the numerous events around him, Dunning took solace in writing American history in reconstructed bits, which later came with a great significance valued by many historians. Although he came up with arguments concerning Dunning’s work, Foner recognized him in the historical discourse forum. Dunning got exposed to historical work at the early age of twelve years and started to construct great ideologies on American history, providing great insight into the historical events in America. At the young age of 20, in 1878, turning had achieved a purpose in the significant reconstruction. The song documents the life of Dunning, providing the various moves he made and the contributions he provided in the birth of American reconstruction. As part of history, Dunning spoke of himself as a “victim,” which spike a lot of sympathetic comments. Being a victim of racism after the slavery period, Dunning took a step to document and detail the science of history in the reconstruction period and provide clear information on the various events around him. One of his most outstanding achievements was explaining the history and the failure of reconstruction. His significant arguments revolved around the Negroes and the comparison with the whites and how the Negroes always got shunned by the perceived superiority of the whites. According to him, “Two years of supremacy in those states which had been restored in 1868 had revealed unmistakable evidence of moral and political weakness in the governments.” (Dunning 438). This assertion points out the difference between the life of black people and whites.

Reconstruction history matters a lot because it provides a great platform to venture and understand all the issues about past historical events. It contributes essential information that could be used to understand historical discourse and the historiography of the post-slavery period. Moreover, it is a vital source of information to gain most of the 16th to 9th-century historical documentaries. Like all the other sources of early American history, reconstruction played its part in disclosing vital information on American history and ensuring that the events were documented.

In W. E. B. Du Bois’s work on Black reconstruction documentation of the various factors revolving around reconstruction provided an excellent platform to understanding historical reconstruction. By focusing on Negro life and the challenges that the black community faced, W. E. B. Du Bois provided an excellent platform to redefine reconstruction (W. E. B. Du Bois 674). As seen in “The American Yawp” and how they defined reconstruction, the works of Du Bois were an accurate representation of the definition of reconstruction. Moreover, through the epic film “The Birth of a Nation,” the work of Du Bois is elaborated and the difference between how the Negro nation and the white people lived. Although most of Du Bois’s work covered the challenges faced by the Negroes in the reconstruction, Du Bois had a point in pointing out the differences. Du Bois’s argument and interpretation of reconstruction are significant because it covers all the reconstruction factors and provide a clear understanding of reconstruction. It serves as one of the most important works of reconstruction, with its primary focus on trying to understand black life. Significantly, the Negro hunt documented by W. E. B. Du Bois served as another valuable insight into understanding reconstruction’s depth and adverse effects (W. E. B. Du Bois 682). The documentation of the hindered registrations and voters’ rights in 1870 is another act that served as an essential show of non-functioning law, pointing out the lawlessness. Therefore, W. E. B. Du Bois’s reconstruction validates reconstruction and represents a reasonable interpretation.

Precisely, historiography on reconstruction (1863-1877) serves as a significant historical event that still hits in the minds of the current historians. The great reconstruction proponents serve as figures of unprecedented historians who served extensively in the reconstruction process. The works of Foner, W. E. B. Du Bois and William Dunning remain an example of the historiographers of their time. Despite Foner’s arguments against the other historiographers, their work remains significant in most American history, giving a broader picture to understand the reconstruction process. The focus of W. E. B. On the Negro life and the challenges that the Negros faced, Du Bois was a valid interpretation of the reconstruction process. Much to the depth, he gave to the Negroes, the documentation of the events surrounding the Negros served as another form of unprecedented interpretation of documentation of a work of historical discourse majoring in reconstruction. Like Du Bois, Dunning also took a tool to interpret black life in the reconstruction. His significant arguments revolved around the Negroes and the comparison with the whites and how the Negroes always got shunned by the perceived superiority of the whites. Although Foner criticized the work of other historians in the reconstruction process, he also provided information helpful in the reconstruction process. Each of these historians contributed to the reconstruction and served as valuable proponents of the historical reconstruction of 1863-1877. Each of them left documented work that historians got used to decades later.

Works Cited

Dunning, William A. “The Undoing of Reconstruction,” 1901.

Ebert, Roger. “The Birth of a Nation Movie Review (1915) | Roger Ebert.”,, 30 Mar. 2003,

Foner, Eric. “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877.” The Journal of American History, vol. 75, no. 4, Mar. 1989, p. 1336, 10.2307/1908705. Accessed 22 Oct. 2019.

Parfait, Claire. “Reconstruction Reconsidered: A Historiography of Reconstruction, from the Late Nineteenth Century to the 1960s.” Études Anglaises, vol. 62, no. 4, 2009, p. 440, 10.3917/etan.624.0440. Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

Song, Tommy. “William Archibald Dunning: Father of Historiographic Racism Columbia’s Legacy of Academic Jim Crow | Columbia University and Slavery.”, 2015,

“The American Yawp.”, 2018,

W. E. B. Du Bois. Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880. Oxford University Press, 2014.


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