tv Lectures in History Historical Interpretations of Reconstruction CSPAN July 22, 2018 12:00pm-1:20pm EDT
firm. i had a client that had something to do with the port of st. petersburg. at a meeting with the real mayor. he was called away and they substituted the deputy mayor, putin. i was annoyed because i wasn't meeting with the mayor, and i knew putin had been kgb. i was negative about it all. he came in and was equally negative and didn't want to meet with some american woman who claimed to run a business. he was very suspicious of women. he had no gallantry, and he was the -- had the coldest eyes i have ever seen. very big, blue, cold eyes. i kept thinking i wonder what would happen if you was interrogating me. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a.
>> next, university of connecticut professor man nisha sinha teaches a class about the reconstruction era of the civil war. she outlines different ways historians have interpreted this period, either as a success or failure since did it not achieve equality for african-americans. her class is about 1:15. prof. sinha: today we are going to be talking about reconstruction. what is reconstruction? it is the period immediately after the civil war, why is it called reconstruction? we're talking about the reconstruction of the union, right?
of the seceded states that formed the confederate states, they have been defeated. how do they reenter the union and how do we reconstruct the union? that is why this time is known as reconstruction. it is not that well known in american history. we have been talking about the civil war, and before the midterms we covered the civil war. everyone knows about the civil war, it has kind of a triumphant end, at least if you're not a neo-confederate. the union winds, slavery is destroyed. reconstruction, on the other hand, does not have a happy ending. it is a great experiment in interracial democracy after the war, it is overthrown. maybe we all like happy endings and that's why we don't know much about reconstruction. but it is a crucial period in american history. extremely crucial because many of the modern ideas about citizenship, what constitutes democracy, about equality, all comes from reconstruction. in a way, it is like the second founding of the american
republic. you have three constitutional amendments. you don't have that since the bill of rights. that is when the constitution was adopted, the founding moment of the american republic. it is a crucial period which americans should be more aware of. what are the issues of reconstruction that really are still pertinent today? here is an image from "harpers weekly," and it personifies i think some of the central issues involved in this period of reconstructing the union and the questions it raises. have a look at it. i don't know how clear it is, you might not be able to read all of the writing. here is a freed man. in his hand is a piece of paper, and on it is written "equal rights."
that is the union army officer. that is the office of the u.s. marshal that someone seems to be seeking protection. there are a bunch of southern whites with placards saying "kkk" and "call home your troops." they want federal troops to leave the south, et cetera. looking at the image, can you think of what may have been some issues of reconstruction? ryan? student: probably the need for federal troops to secure rights in the south, they feared confederate troops would try to force slavery back onto the newly freed men in all but name. prof. sinha: excellent. that is exactly what i think the picture illustrates.
that there may be a danger, that once the federal troops leave, the southern whites will go back to the way it was. so what was the war fought all about? that is a real danger. the rights of the black people are so connected to the presence of the federal government of the troops in the south, and it tells you something about the issues of reconstruction. black citizenship. what would freedom mean for black people who are no longer slaves? will they be citizens? will they be given equal rights? what is their status in the american republic? the presence of the federal government, of the union army, the u.s. marshal's office, quite clearly we are getting a new sense of the nation-state of the federal government. old ideas about federalism, the principal of dividing power
between the federal government and state government are going to be revisited. these states seceded from the union. what is the status of these rebel states now? the federal government is the symbol of the victorious union. how are they going to negotiate these rights again? will the expansion of the national government or the federal government as the base of the victorious union be connected to the issue of black rights? clearly that is the imagery. and this is an image from reconstruction. this is the issue being represented in the north. that the federal government is closely connected to the issue of black rights, and the issue of federalism does involve a renegotiation virtually, or reimagining of what are states rights, what are the powers of the federal government?
a renegotiation of that relationship. why do you think states rights would be somewhat discredited now? any ideas? the idea of states rights, the states have certain rights. who are the people who have evoked states rights before, and for what purpose before the war? abby? wait for the microphone again, make sure it is close so everyone can hear your intelligent questions and responses. war, itfore the civil was southern politicians evoking states rights, but it was fundamentally to do with slavery. some politicians, like in the secession of south carolina, in their statements, they haven't states rights and the sovereignty of states, but now the federal government has won and the idea cannot stand any more. slavery is abolished and there
is no sovereignty between the states, the federal government has the precedent. prof. sinha: exactly right. states rights is somewhat discredited. first it had been used to defend slavery. they didn't want the federal government to interfere. it was also used to secede from the union. it was the right of the state to secede from the union to protect slavery. states rights are connected with the institution of slavery and secession and civil war. it is somewhat of a discredited philosophy at this time. the issues of reconstruction are something that is still with us. when i introduced this period to you, i said it is when you had far-reaching, federal laws being passed. there are cases in the supreme court today that evoke the laws of the reconstruction era.
far-reaching amendments of the constitution. you might not have heard of the 14th amendment of the u.s. constitution, but it has been so important in our times. the right to privacy. marriage equality. roe v. wade. all of those decisions that have been made that have been constantly expanding rights in the united states for different groups of folks evoke the 14th amendment. really, this moment in history that forms our modern notions of equality and citizenship and what democracy in america should look like. it is extremely important. it is also contested. you can see that in the picture. you can see the contestation. the defeated confederacy, does
it look like they have accepted defeat, at least in this northern representation? is there going to be peace after the war? no. this looks like a conversation. -- contestation. why would the army be needed in the south? to protect black rights. so this notion that there was no peace after the war, that somehow the issues that defined the war was still being contested in the south, it is something really important to understand reconstruction. it was one of the most contentious periods in american history. you can have the mic. student: i find it interesting that andrew johnson was pro-state rights when he was doing reconstruction. it made it hard to implement federal rights for reconstruction, as well. it also made it hard because the president during reconstruction
was not really in favor of so much federal outreach and federal power. that is interesting, i think. prof. sinha: an excellent point. andrew johnson presents a big problem for us. he is a states rights democrat before the war. because of an assassin's bullet, he becomes president and he is clearly not on board with the republican program. -- program of black rights. he is clearly not on board with the expansion of the federal government in order to ensure black rights and the rule of law in the south. that would create one of the biggest constitutional crises in the united states. it is the first time a president is brought up on articles of impeachment. but we are getting ahead of ourselves. but i'm glad you brought up johnson because we will be talking about that today. we will be talking about the issues raised by reconstruction,
about johnson and presidential reconstruction, and eventually how congress implements a program of reconstruction based on the idea of black citizenship, and comes close to impeaching andrew johnson. now, as i said, this is a very fraught period. there is contention in the south in washington, d.c. and congress is disowned by its own body in a way. we talked about deferring interpretations and different interpretations of slavery. the same is true of reconstruction. historians have interpreted the period in very different ways. much of this is not in the reading you have done for today, but it is in the introduction of the book. some of it will be new, some i will add to that.
this historiography of reconstruction was defined by the dunning school. named after a columbia university historian. i have to apologize to my alma mater, because it was a pernicious interpretation of reconstruction put forward by some columbia historians. they basically said this was like a terrible period in american history. reconstruction was awful because of vindictive northern radical republicans forcing black rights on the south. that it was a. of corruption and of miss role, incompetent. former slaves were suddenly
given political power and they wreaked havoc on the defeated south. the sympathy is with the south. it is a very racist view of the period. dunning and burgess there is a crude, upfront racism , they have, people relaxing relapsing into barbarism and simply incompetent because they are black people, because they are of african descent. this is a time of black supremacy. according to the dunning school, giving equal rights to black people meant hurting southern whites. that we were somehow experimenting, and there was no achievement. and there was nothing redeeming about this period at all. and the pernicious thing is that dunning and his students pretty much dominated reconstruction historiography. it was about states rights, not
slavery, but states rights to do what? this kind of pernicious interpretation was dominant for a very long time. a few challenges started coming up with the rise of the progressive school of historians. you remember the progressive school of historians? the mcpherson article that talked about the civil war, the second american revolution? this idea was first put forward by the progressive school. they used it talk about the southof industrialism and -- and the south -- in the south. mcpherson and others show that, in fact, we can keep the fact of the idea of revolution, but what we can't do is see it as some sort of economic conflict between the north and south, the real conflict was over slavery. and the revolution was getting rid of slavery. the progressive school of
historians said this whole race talk, that was not the real issue of reconstruction. this saw the civil war as a result of differing economic interests, they saw reconstruction and republicans as trying to enforce northern capitalism on the south. they were always looking for the economic self-interest of the people. what was the real economy race ? was just window dressing of the economic interest of the north and south. you get a double dose of this. you have been reading. you read a short history, did you manage to read the article on the radical republicans? what does the author say? does he say radical republicans are really arguing about -- if you have your book handy, you can even go quickly check it out. are they agents of northern capitalism?
do they have a unified economic policy they want to implement in the south? student: he says there wasn't a unified economic policy in the republican party, and black rights and moving reconstruction forward was the main policy, much more so than economic policy. prof. sinha: absolutely. very good. he said part of what unites northern republicans, it is not economics, they don't have a unified policy. some of them are for tariffs and some are for free trade. the thing that unites them is a civic ideology, of rights, of citizenship, that they want extended to former slaves.
maybe the moderates want to go with civil rights and the radicals want to go with the right to vote, but that is the ideology that holds the republican party together the way anti-slavery did before the civil war. if it had an economic policy, it was what was called free labor ideology. that people should be treated as free labor, they should have certain rights in the marketplace, have paid wages for work, allowed to leave their employer to find better wages and conditions. that they should not be enslaved, basically, right? that ideology may be some kind of economic ideology they had, but in terms of implementing economic policy on the south and reducing the south, as many progressive historians argued, into a colonial status, was simply not what happened. you can also see why the progressive school of historians said this. they were dominant during the
progressive era. the progressive era is the era of trying to address the problems of the gilded age. there is lots of conflict, strikes, mass immigration. this is a time when there was the idea the government should regulate the economy. we should have clean food, clean air, those sorts of things come into being. that was the progressive reform. you can understand why the progressive school of historians were influenced by that kind of reform attitude at that time, talking about economic issues far more than the issue of the war, which was slavery and race and questions of rights. there was one person who dissented and was in the dunning
school. it remains the dominant view. the dunning school, even when you have challenges coming up in , terms of popular culture, these are dominant. there is a journalist who writes a book called "the tragic era," from indiana, and he basically recaps the dunning school for a broader audience. the birth of a nation, which is basically the dunning school, the first hollywood classic, is about reconstruction. has anyone seen it? you do not want to see it. talk about the propaganda of history. what was insidious about the dunning school was that its views percolated into the popular culture, into film, the first hollywood classic, which premiered, by the way, in the white house. the first southerner elected
after the civil war was woodrow wilson. he was a progressive on economic issues, but when it came to race, he was really retrograde. not only did he premier "the birth of a nation," which was all about black men being rapists and the ku klux klan is redeeming the south. it is pretty horrendous to watch. it is painful. if you have time, you can take a look at it. it caricatures the radicals. woodrow wilson, who was mostly progressive in economic policy and to a certain extent in international relations, is really retrogressive when it comes to race. he fired all black federal government officers because he did not want any black people in the federal government. he establishes the league of nations. or helps to establish it, even
though that's voted down by the u.s. congress. but he has this idea of national self-determination for everyone. and the moment people said, does this apply to asia and africa, he said of course not. i meant only europeans. so when it comes to race, he's extremely retrogressive. but that is how pernicious the dunning school was. it was in the white house, in hollywood, everywhere. that was the picture of reconstruction that was dominant. there is one dissenting voice, the famous black intellectual historian activist, one of the founders of the naacp, dubois. he wrote a book. it was called black reconstruction in america. the title show shoe he wanted to censor the role of african america in the drama about
reconstruction. read the subtitle. an essay on the part in which black folk play in the attempt to reconstruct democracy in america. from 1860 to 1880. from the civil war to well after reconstruction is over in 1880. he published this in 1935. he is not only censored african-americans in this story, he is saying this is not just a matter of reconstructing the union, it is a matter of reconstructing american democracy, its values, its ideals. when black people are demanding citizenship and equal rights, they are imagining the interracial democracy we live in today. they are coming up with a whole new conception of american democracy, and it is very contested in the 19th century and continues to be contested until today. who is an american citizen? should people have equal rights? you would imagine these questions were settled with the civil war, but they are
extremely contested after the war. he is saying in demanding equality, black people are helping to reconstruct american democracy. that was his idea. more importantly, at the end of this mammoth book he writes about reconstruction, he has a chapter called the propaganda of history, where he takes the dunning school to task. he literally quotes them. and the extremely racist views about black people. and the fact that they literally wrote bad history. they wrote what southerners said about reconstruction and pretty much reproduced that. he has a wonderful quote i'll read out to you, he says in his book, in this chapter, "the
propaganda of history," these were the radicals, they have been besmirched. they are per trade as vindictive people. stoneman is supposed to be stephen. we have been controlling and flattering the south, and slurring the north because the south is determined to rewrite history. the north is not interested in history, but in wealth." he is condemning the republican party. its conversion from anti-slavery to big business. "the white south reinforced this reaction. it was no longer the bluster of slave oligarchy but the plight of a conquered people." that is how the birth of a nation does it. that these were a defeated people and we were mean, and vindictive and revengeful.
he says, "the resulting emotional and intellectual rebounding made it inconceivable at the end of reconstruction in at the end of reconstruction that 10 years earlier, most men 1876 believed in human equality." the real indictment of the historical profession and the way in which historians had written about reconstruction. his book was not even reviewed in the american historical review, which is the leading journal of our profession, but he had the last laugh. guess what? in the 1960's during the civil rights era, his view of reconstruction became dominant. people saw the dunning school for what it was. after world war ii, racism is intellectually and politically at least unfashionable. , nazism had made racism suspect. race and ideas suspect.
the america historical profession as a whole is sort of reckoning with reconstruction in different ways. many people who write in the 1960's, black and white historians, they all write, to resurrect dubois's views on reconstruction. it is interesting, in a 1940 essay in the historical review, dubois to boys -- th beyond the ways in which the dunning school had written about reconstruction, where he said animosity still animated it. this view of du bois, it was tackled by eric foner. he wrote his about reconstruction in the 1980's. you are -- 1800s.
you are reading an abridged version. i actually read his manuscript when i was a graduate student at columbia. what is interesting about foner is he updates du bois for our times to a certain extent. you are reading his view of reconstruction, the standard view now in american history of reconstruction. he sees african-americans as central players in the drama of reconstruction, but he also looks at the expansion of the nation-state, of the constitutional and political crises that take place. the fights over the meanings of freedom. you remember that chapter you read about the meanings of freedom and how former slaves thought about freedom? does anyone want to take a stab at that? any ideas about how foner talks about how freedom is being contested during this time?
that that is the central issue really, black freedom in reconstruction. you remember how he talks about black people reconstructing their families, marriages, communities, churches, but also thinking about economic independence, etc.? yes? student: in terms of african-americans, because they had lost so much during slavery, how they try to establish families by looking for their own families and legalizing their marriages. their personal freedoms became very political because things which they were not able to do became things that were regarded as foundations for freedom, and how they could engage in their own freedom, even if it didn't seem like they were doing much to the whites, government and
society. prof. sinha: exactly. these are things we consider basic civil rights. you think about the debate of marriage equality, this is something you probably grew up with. that's a basic civil rights right that gay people demanded. they said we should not be stigmatized for who we are. we need this they sick civil right. on the basis of the 14th amendment, marriage equality was proclaimed. that is in a way what former slaves were contending for, basic rights as citizens in the country. and for foner, political rights. they're looking for economic independence, etc. we will talk more about land and labor in the south, but black people are politicized. whether it is the politicalization of everyday life.
the idea that black people should move out of the sidewalk when a white person walks by. this led to violent fights in the south after the civil war, or the idea that they should be deferential and cowering as if they were slaves. that racial etiquette no longer applied, and black people were quick to demand access to schools, to the ballot box, to demand access to public accommodations. things they had been deprived of. this is why freedom is contested in the south. everyone is trying to define, what rights do black people have now? what kind of freedoms do they have? this is the point of the conversation. -- contestation. even though foner calls it an unfinished revolution, because reconstruction is overthrown. it would take 100 years for these amendments to be implemented in america, through
another great mass movement, the civil rights movement of the 1960's. you can see it takes a very long time to even implement these rights, and that is why it is so radical. it is radical because in the 19th century, people are not talking about black equality, and yet that is the topic. it takes so long for these basic rights of black citizenship to be implemented in this country. other historians have been writing about reconstruction, in the 1970's and 1980's. there were a number of people, in the aftermath of the civil rights movement said reconstruction wasn't radical enough. reconstruction did not go far enough, land was not redistributed. people were restrained by the u.s. constitution. the federal government could not
exercise its powers to the extent that was needed because of the constraints of states rights, ideas, and federalist principles divided government, etc. there were all kinds of ways to say that this period was not radical, but the people who lived through it, former slaves, confederates, northerners, they found it terribly radical. they are right about living in revolutionary times. the changes are coming so fast and quick and the country has to keep up with it. now in the aftermath of foner's reconstruction, there have been re-evaluations, articles and books have come out, saying this was a period that was also disappointing. there were a lot of failures. we need to look at other things. this kind of linear narrative of slavery to freedom and progress does not really work, and we have to look at all kinds of
other problems during the reconstruction period. people talk about how the plains indians are dispossessed immediately after reconstruction, how the indian wars are fought in the west. how america emerges as an imperial power. the war in the philippines, etc. the putting down of philippine independence. it was not as radical as we thought. these evaluations often come with a long reconstruction framework. they don't just look at reconstruction, but the period after reconstruction. they look at issues that did not have much to do with the kind of issues we have been talking about. black rights, citizenship, etc. maybe the expansion of the nation-state. the american nation-state grew so big and powerful that it could become imperial, that is another popular way of looking at it now.
it remains the gold standard in reconstruction historiography. this is the way historians have contended with reconstruction. let's talk more about the specific issues after the period. andrew johnson created one of the first political crises of reconstruction, the first constitutional crises of reconstruction. lincoln is often seen as the greatest president of the united states. he and washington. but lincoln usually always gets it when they have these rankings. it is the irony of history that he was preceded by a president always ranked near the bottom, james buchanan, and then succeeded by a president who is
also always near the bottom, andrew johnson. when andrew johnson was put on the presidential ticket in 1864, this was the election lincoln was going to lose, remember? after the emancipation proclamation. the idea was they would be a unity ticket, you have a southerner on the ticket and would proclaim the unity of the nation. it's quite clear by 1864, the south is going to lose. at least most people think this is the dying embers of confederate resistance. johnson is lincoln's vice president because he was a senator from tennessee and such a staunch unionist that when his state seceded from the union, he refused to leave the senate. johnson is the only one who did not leave. unconditional unionist. staunch. and when the union actually occupied tennessee, he becomes the wartime governor of tennessee.
he is from very humble origins, although he owned a few slaves. he is seen as someone, even more rags to riches than lincoln. he represents the poor whites, many of whom were staunch unionists at that time. it was a predominantly non-slaveholding area. here we have johnson, he is a man who is seen as a staunch unionist, he goes around and says i'll make treason odious, he will make it hard on secessionists. he tells black people, i will be your moses. lincoln never said that.
but johnson is a huge disappointment, a staunch states rights democrat, really. he was never part of the republican party. he joins the republican party during the civil war. his states rights democratic roots are very strong and he is very reluctant to use federal power to enforce black rights, or to have any federal power in the south to reconstruct the south. what is interesting about johnson is he is a staunch racist. this comes out during his presidency. he cannot even contemplate black people as equals. he is southern, he is white. he hates the planter class, but he hates black people even more. during reconstruction when you look at the policies of his presidential reconstruction, you can see this. at one point, he meets a delegation led by frederick douglas, who has been received
politely by lincoln. johnson meets him and calls it the darkie delegation. when they leave, nowadays we have hot mike's, we catch politicians sometimes saying things that are crude and awful. sometimes they say it openly. his secretary recorded this. johnson said about the black delegation who had come to plead with him for black rights, he said, these are his exact words, and pardon my french, he was a crude guy. one of the crudest presidents. "those dammed sons of bitches thought they had me in a trap. douglas, he is just like any other he would . sooner slit a white man's throat
than not." this is the president of the united states talking about a black delegation headed i frederick douglas. rarely have we seen presidents talk in that manner. his racism is acute. johnson has these amnesty proclamations where the moment he comes into power, one republican says, this is rich for a man made president by an assassin's bullet, to be so arrogant. congress is not in session, he issues proclamations that southern states can reenter the union, as long as they accept that they are against secession, they accept that slavery is dead, and repudiate the confederate debt. there are no conditions for black rights, civil rights, anything. they can just come in to the
union. it is a very lenient policy. absolutely no conditions put on southerners. there is this myth that johnson is continuing lincoln's policy. the wartime reconstruction that lincoln had put forward, this is a wartime measure for the areas conquered by the union. in particular, louisiana. but they said as long as the white population was loyal, they can reenter. there were hardly any conditions for civil rights or blacks. congress was upset about that. they had their own bill that they said would give black people some civil rights, but they did not give black men the right to vote. that does not mean that lincoln was opposed to black rights. remember his last speeches, he was in support of black rights.
he writes a letter to the governor of louisiana saying to consider giving the right to vote to those who are very intelligent and have served in the union army and are educated. he is clearly a person who is moving toward black rights. johnson never does. in fact, he digs into this position that it is an impossibility. the other way lincoln is different is that he is a party leader. he emerges from the republican party and he leads the republican party successfully through the war, and in the last of the war, he works with republicans in congress to achieve quite a bit. the most important is the passing of the freedman's bureau bill. that was in 1865. this is a federal government agency. the southerners said this was the federal government overreaching. this is a federal government agency. the official name is bureau of
refugees, freedmen and abandoned lands. it's a federal government agency that would oversee the transition from slavery to freedom in the south. it was not just to protect the rights of free people, but also giving food, shelter, sometimes opening hospitals and schools, even to southern whites. but it was portrayed as an awful overreach of the federal government that was only helping black people. actually, they were doing a lot of things. they ended up being identified mainly with the free people. what does this picture show you? this is a contemporary illustration of the bureau. it is a short history of reconstruction. it has two views of the freedman's bureau. what does this tell you? here is a man in a uniform, he could be a bureau agent or with the union army.
a person they relied on. what does this tell you about the role of the bureau in the postcivil war south. ryan -- sorry, tasha. i will let tasha go first because she has not spoken yet. go ahead. student: it was trying to halt the division between the blacks and the whites, keep the peace for the most part. there was no other federal agency and johnson was not doing the job. prof. sinha: absolutely. a very good point. johnson had not yet been elected, but yes, this is the idea that the bureau would act as an arbiter between southern whites and black people demanding their rights. it would be an impartial agency, but it was not viewed that way.
for black people, it became an alternate source of authority. if your former master or local state authorities abused you, whipped and -- you, and there were hundreds of incidents of people, complaints, people and children being whipped. you could appeal to the bureau. it was the first social welfare agency formed by the united states government. it literally was going to go down south, they had hundreds of agents. sometimes the agents were racist. but as a whole, the freedman's bureau was an alternative source of authority, and southern whites hated it. they hated these people intervening in their domestic affairs. in the way they wanted to run their states. despite having been defeated in the civil war. blacks welcomed it.
dubois wrote essays about it, showing how important it had been for the blacks to appeal to the government. to protect their rights. so the bureau really became identified with black rights in the south. what happens is that lincoln cooperates with the republicans to pass the freedman's bureau bill in 1865. it is the first step toward reconstruction. the terms of lincoln's plan for reconstruction, we will never know, because he was killed, but he actually helped form this agency with republicans in congress. the second thing he works with congress on, does anyone remember? the first reconstruction amendment. does anyone remember what the amendment was? ryan?
student: the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery. prof. sinha: absolutely. worked with congress to abolish slavery. the 13th amendment to the constitution and 1835. -- in 1835. that slavery should not exist in this country, except if you were duly convicted in a court of law. the second section of the amendment is really important. it says congress shall have the power to enforce this amendment. clearly the 13th amendment is saying congress should be deciding on how to implement black freedom. they should pass laws in congress to implement this. what did johnson think? johnson is not buying this. he is a states rights guy. he does not think congress should have anything to do with reconstruction. he is disbanding black union army troops. he's issuing his plan for reconstruction.
he penalizes the planter class. anyone owning more than $20,000 in property shall not be pardoned. but grant amnesty to other parties. but what happens? these people, representatives of the planter class, comes to johnson, and he issues wholesale pardons to them, 14,000 people. what happens with the new governments being formed in the south under johnson's plan? not many of them were secessionists, because they were discredited and they were unionists. the unionists had opposed the secession of their states but many of them had fought for the confederacy and occupied high office in the confederacy. the most important one of those was alexander stevens, the vice president of the confederacy. these state governments are full
-- formed in the south are full of former confederates, some of them still wearing the confederate army uniforms as generals. they are sending these guys to congress. alexander stevens is elected senator from georgia. anyone in the notions of the addictive harsh republicans in , any other country, these people might have been executed, jailed. some people were jailed for crimes committed against the united states government. jefferson davis was jailed for some time. but none of them really suffered. jefferson davis wrote a memoir after his belief saying it was -- release saying it was all about states rights and not about slavery. they are there to propagate their own views and really not punished that harshly. did you have a question? jeremy. student: the 13th amendment originally stated there shall be no slavery except except as a
punishment for crime. how significant did that play for the south, as far as enforcing the black codes? prof. sinha: very good question. we will be talking about black codes. southerners used all kinds of legal and constitutional topholes, besides violence , undermine reconstruction and black rights. people use criminality, they start convicting black people for minor crimes, and using them as convict labor. there are theories about mass incarceration, and this is where it starts. the people who wrote the 13th amendment did not have that in mind. this is a common english exception to rights and povich and privileges given meaning if you're duly
, convicted of a crime, you can be imprisoned, your rights can be taken away from you temporarily. that is a common exception. the black code is not coming so much from the 13th amendment, these are codes i'll be talking about. and i'm glad you raised this, we will be talking about this under johnson's plan. the states are dominated by unionists, but they went with the states. they all end up implementing these black codes which causes a real problem. i'll be talking about that shortly. ryan, you had a question. student: i think the politics of johnson are interesting, but i am confused on his motives. during the war, he is so harsh on treason and angry against the secessionists, but following the work, he seems to ally with them. would you say that is more because he wanted their support during the re-election and was power hungry? he seemed to change his politics, even. he shifted to a lot less harsh. would you say it was because he was power-hungry and wanted to
be reelected or because he had the views and did not express them during the war? prof. sinha: good question. clearly he tries to form a separate party. his party basically disowns him. republicans realized he was going against everything, not just the republican party, but that the north stood for. he tries to form a union party with democrats and conservative republicans and he played the race card. he thinks he can unite northern whites and southerners on the race card, but guess what? this time it doesn't work. maybe part of it is that, that -- but part of it is also that johnson was a unionist. bethought the union should upheld. but his view of unionism never included black rights. he was from the south. he was for the union. there were more than democrats like that. they didn't want anything to do with black rights. johnson, his racism is what
really envelops him. you can see that in his action. this is the failure of johnson's reconstruction. he is not a continuation of lincoln. the conflict of interest between the president of united states and the congress, who will control reconstruction? but lincoln worked with the congress, the republican party. johnson was a man without a party. he does these things like he would revoke land grants made by the freedman's bureau. remember that they had people settle on the land, sherman's 40 acres and a mule? he takes that gives it back to the planters. southern whites are complaining, they don't want black soldiers, or union army troops around.
he disbands them and they are sent out west. he is clearly working on his own plan for reconstruction. congress, when it reconvenes, and these are the things he is doing. his proclamations come pretty soon after lincoln's death in may 1865. when congress reconvenes, they form a joint committee on reconstruction. joint committee in the house and senate. to decide what to do with reconstruction. they hear testimony of violence in the south, of contention in the south from free people etc. , and they are trying to come up with some plan that johnson could agree with, could be on board with. these are the moderates, not the radicals. they put together two bills. the freedman's bureau bill, to extend the bureau so it can
continue to try and maintain some semblance of order and peace and give some relief to southerners. also in the aftermath of war. and they enact the civil rights of 1866, which for the first time defines national citizenship in american history. what does it mean to be a citizen of united states? before the civil rights, pretty much each state decided who was a citizen and who was not. some in the north gave black men the right to vote. most northern states did not. you could pretty much decide as a state what rights to give a person. it is only during reconstruction you have a national idea of citizenship. there were federal laws that regulated immigration, but only whites could enter the country. it was a racial law. here you have a very different
view of civil rights and national citizenship. it is to give black people basic rights, the right to sue, hold property, enter into contracts. these are important. you think of them as minor, but they were important if you were to be paid adequate wages for your work, etc. it was important for black people to get these basic civic rights. the radicals are going further, no, give them the right to vote. that is what citizenship is about. black men at least, not talking about the women, should have the right to vote, we should give them the right to vote. these are the bills that go to johnson, and he vetoes both. why is the civil rights act passed? because of the black codes, they are literally updated versions of the slave code of the south. southerners who had been defeated, and maybe under
lincoln or someone more statesmanlike, might have accepted their defeat with the demands put on them, but johnson has been so lenient, they decide, we have our man in the white house. forget about the civil war. they pass these black codes. the black codes are pretty awful. they recognize the end of slavery. they say slavery has ended, that they -- but they restrict black rights and black freedom and put black people as close back to slavery as possible. some of these were egregious. there was a mississippi black coat that was the worst. they enacted vagrancy laws. if a black person was found not working for someone, they could be arrested, fined. in order to pay his fine, he is to be put to work for the local planter. they force black people to enter
into year-long contracts to work on plantations. they kind of commandeer black labor as they had under slavery. enticement laws. meaning, if i had signed a contract with a black person for his labor, if another person offers him more money, he cannot do it. it is a criminal offense. that's enticing. is that the free market in wage labor? that's not how it works, right? if you're a wage laborer, you work for the guy who pays you the most. that is not allowed. apprenticeship laws. normally apprenticeship was seen as a nice thing, children would be apprenticed to a local craftsmen, learn a trade and become the craftsmen. what do the apprenticeship laws do? they took black children out of their families and apprenticed them.
black parents are seen as unfit, so they took the children and put them in school. the mississippi law was so bad that it even did not allow black people to own land. if they did not own land, they were forced to work for whites on plantations. every legal or political trick to constrict black freedom or have them working virtually as slaves is what they were doing. black people could be fined and imprisoned for seditious speech and misbehavior. even trying to enforce slavery, whites who -- they were not allowed to own arms or knives or anything. whites who gave them liquor or arms could also be imprisoned and find. it was literally like the slave code.
it was so drastically to make a mockery of it. alex has a question? think the 13th amendment with the exception to -- as a punishment, they can use slavery, had a playing through the black codes in the south because they could take that exception into slavery as a punishment and punish blacks for little crimes? do you think that played a big part in the black code? prof. sinha: not really. what was jeremy was asking too. you could say the black code overreached. the 13th amendment is punishment for a crime. this is regulation of black rights and labor to an extent. that is not even visualized in the 13th amendment. eventually, some of us would do that. they would convict black people for various petty crimes. this is start of the labor in the south.
as i said, many people today praise -- trace mass incarceration into the united states back to this period for that reason. eventually they would do that. they thought that they were following the law. they had recognized the end of slavery. but they have another legal system, they don't call it slavery. it could be slavery by another name or worse than slavery. that is the civil rights act. the committee is gathering testimony from the south. the civil rights act is really a reaction to that. johnson redoes both. anyone who says that johnson is a continuation of lincoln, he he sees this as a state's right. this is a big federal government agency, it is unconstitutional. jensen? one thing that was
interesting was that the reason for that could be that it was racism, but he had a strong notion that only the on wealthy, white population should be ruling and should have political powers. i think he thought the freedmen's bureau had too much political power. which could be his reasoning for that. prof. sinha: in a way, it was connected because you could say that for johnson, slave owners and black slaves were two sides of the same coin. he saw them as connected. when he implemented its reconstruction policy, he was lenient to that class. he worked with 14,000 who were pardoned overnight. he liked that they were groveling to him, begging for pardon. and he pardoned them all. he had no punitive plan. he probably decided that his racism outweighed the envy of this class.
that is one way that one could understand his actions. he does not punish -- he does not see the freedmen's bureau as a reason that's otherwise have to fade. you can see it in his feet a vetoge to the -- in his message to the civil rights act. that is not giving them what radicals are asking for. this is the right to vote. basic civil rights, they were being issued among the slaves. in his message, johnson's veto, many of its echoes are still there today. he uses this notion to begin to say that is this a white man's government? are we going to give rights to the chinese immigrants in california? gypsies? native americans? not subject to taxes?
he even comes to this notion that if we give black civil rights, we are fringing on the rights of southern whites. this is the way that many of the defenders portrayed him. it is a purely racist argument. saying, -- and that there is this notion that rights are limited. if you give some people their rights, you are inflicting it on other people. this is not the notion of the declaration of independence. this is not the notion of human rights as we understand it today. it is this a very narrow, racist, constrict did version of rights. -- constricted version of rights. this is this notion of white grievance that he put forward. he said you're discriminating against whites by giving black people rights. that is his argument. its echoes can be found in the 70's and 80's. it is reverse discrimination. the notion that if you try to rectify all of the previous
wrongs, then you are somehow inflicting that on others. this is a direct quote from his civil rights veto. he said the distinction of race and color is by the bill. made to operate in the favor of the colored against the white race. that is the kernel of his reasoning. it is not even states rights. his whole argument is extremely racist. his plan is put into disrepute in the north because of what happened in the south in may and july of 1866. the famous memphis and new orleanians riots -- orleans riots. they are not race riots. it was whites attacking blacks. it begins with a traffic
accident. it escalates into a complete program on black people in memphis. what is shocking is that the local police forces cannot be relied on to restore this. -- restore order. they join with the white riders and start attacking black people. five black women are raped. the union army troops have to be called in. to restore order. a few months later, in new orleans, the constitutional convention meets to discuss reconstruction and radical republicans are asking that they consider black rights or what lincoln had written to michael on, the governor of louisiana, consider giving black men the right to vote. what happens here? there is an attack by a racist mob on the convention. on the constitutional convention. in the end, 34 blacks and three white radical republicans are
killed. the union army has to be called in to restore order because again, local law enforcement join in and start attacking black schools and black communities. the union army general says it is a massacre. they are just massacring people. this evokes a huge reaction in the north. people are thinking wait a minute -- did we not just fight a war for four or years? five there was a lot of loss of life. we are back to square one. this is not peace. these issues are still being contested. johnson does not budge. while people in the republican congress are hearing what is happening, evil in the north, he -- people in the north, he says no, i will make the 1866 election about my plan verse a -- versus the plan of the republicans. he demeans himself completely.
he did not have a good start. he was drunk at his own inauguration. he was so badly drunk that he had to be held up. he completely demeans his office by campaigning against his own party, against the republican party. going to the north, he plays the race card repeatedly. he thinks he can unite white northerners and white southerners on race. he says this will be a mongrel democracy. black rights, black supremacy, they mean intermarriage, socially quality. would your daughter marry a black man? this is where it begins. he demeans his -- himself and is so crude that people in the crowd started shouting back at him. sometimes he is hooted at. people don't want to hear him because northern public opinion is not being swayed by him playing this race card. things that worked were not working at this time.
let's go around the circle. he did a swing around the circle in the north. it was a complete disaster. student: i am hearing this and i am thinking about what you said about stevens and all of the other confederates entering congress. the thing about sumner being caned, was there any strong reaction from the republicans in congress against these confederates rejoining the government? prof. sinha: very good question. when they johnson representatives show up, congress does not admit them. they realize now that these governments, with their black coats, etc., they are not going to be -- that they needed a proper reconstruction of the south. that included african-americans. otherwise they would be completely excluded. this is the start of congressional reconstruction.
this is what johnson is basically doing at this point. it is simply not being able to comprehend that a reconstruction of the south would include black people in any way. student: i think it is really interesting, especially when he would engage with the crowds. i think my favorite part from the chapters we read is when he says -- when they say, hang geoff davis. he says why not thaddeus stevens? he openly advocated for the execution of one of his own party members. that is such political suicide. i don't understand how the president could think that is a good idea to say. exactly.ha: whether it was stupidity, racism, i guess you could impeach him on all of these things. imagine telling a northern crowd that we should hang northern republican congressman instead of the confederates who have committed rebellion against the union. i am glad you brought that up.
that is exactly what happens. he engages in shouting matches with northern republicans. somehow, his attempt to play the race card does not really work. guess what? this is what the north is seeing. you see it is a cowering black family. it has got the kkk and the way to league. because these are organizations being formed in 1866. ex confederates are forming these white vigilante groups to terrorize black people into submission. you see a white leader with all confederate uniforms and the kkk are joining hands. you can see a cowering black family. johnson's motto -- this is a white man's government. here it is written, worse than slavery. here is a black man hanging from a tree.
there is a black school has been burned. this is what the north is seeing. you can imagine that with all of this news coming from of south -- this is a german-american immigrant, he had to report to him. one of the conditions of the south -- johnson realizes he does not want that report. he refuses to publish it. congress publishes it. basically he says, these people are incorrigible. he says johnson had encouraged them on these issues. they were not ready for black freedom. they were not ready for any conception of black rights. they had not accepted defeat in the war. they were still hanging on to the ideas that they had fought for. people in the north, this is what they are seeing. they pretty much decide that
johnson's plan is not the way to go. in my next class, i will talk more about congressional reconstruction. the men who led that. the measures you have read that you are reading this week. read the speeches of live in trumbull. read the 14th amendment. we will talk about that. that is the cornerstone of radical reconstruction. congressional reconstruction. also, the reconstruction act of 1867. that basically demands the south back -- they reject the new johnsonian state code. with the racial terror spreading in the south. they say that you have to go back. you have to give black people the right to vote. you have to form new state government and then you will be admitted to the union.
you will not be readmitted to the union under these conditions. because of johnson, the republican party has moved toward the radical vision. what began with a civil rights bill that johnson vetoed -- this ends up with a program for black suffrage. in order to reconstruct the south. that is pretty radical. most northern states don't give black men the right to vote, including connecticut. connecticut had not only taken away the right to vote from black men with the spread of jacksonian democracy -- during this time, a referendum came up in connecticut. after the civil war to give lachman the right to vote. it was defeated. they agreed that the percentage of people in the north favored to give men the right to vote and it kept increasing. basically, wherever this referendum came up in the laws, it was normally defeated. in wisconsin, minnesota and
connecticut. when radical reconstruction begins, it is not only redefining democracy in the south, it is doing that for the nation as a whole. the 14th and the 15th amendment enfranchised black men all over the nation. this did not exist before in the united states. guess what? those issues, those ideas, we are still talking about that today. we are still contesting those. after today's class, i want you to read the speeches, read the 14th amendment, read the reconstruction act and we will figure out whether this was a period in which the vindictive north tried to impose role in -- rule in the south or a time
when ideal black citizenship flowered for a brief moment in american history. ok. one last question. go ahead. we have one minute. student: i have a question about the kkk. i know this is the freedom of assembly and all of that. if you are an organization. but if they are doing what they're doing, would that not be against the constitution? you are infringing on other people's rights. therefore, you should not exist as an organization. prof. sinha: absolutely, the bill of rights gives us all of those basic protections. that is part of our constitution. but black people were never seen as part of it. very few people believed in including african-americans under those protections. according to many abolitionists, african-americans could be held as slaves because you are
violating all sorts of things in the bill of rights. wait a minute, this does not apply to blacks. this is the question -- a bill of rights is all about individual rights, during reconstruction they started giving positive rights. in terms of the right to vote, it becomes a definition of citizenship. before that, the right to vote was not. african-americans cannot vote, women could not, each generation had to reimagine the constitution and broaden its boundaries to include all of this. you could say that southerners think we had slavery in the constitution. why can't we have the kkk? because black people are not citizens. if they are acclaimed to go out of that -- of their space but we have as menial labor for us, we will react.
we don't want them to have any rights and participate in government. they didn't see it as constitutional. -- as unconstitutional. johnson said he was all for the constitution as well. he said this is a white man's government. elections,idential the republican party was able to dump johnson and have ulysses s. grant as a presidential candidate. the democratic party -- you will see this in the photo book -- their slogan is this is a white man's country. it is a white man's government. that is the slogan of their party. they did not mince words, they said what they meant. many times you will read -- this happens a lot. they say this is all about -- it is not about this, it is about that. you should go back to those documents. that is why i give you some -- give you so many documents to read.
they are very clear about being for white supremacy. they are very clear about it. they thought they were doing the constitutional thing, which is why, in a way, the radicals and up rewriting the constitution, at least amending it to a substantial degree to make it quite clear that african-americans are included within the protections of u.s. constitution and u.s. government. that is a story for next class. i will give you back your papers. i know you have been very patient. hopefully will be able to do that. i will see you next class. goodbye. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: numeral watching american history tv, only on c-span3.