This course covers the Reconstruction Era - 1862 to 1877. It consists of 17 lectures averaging 15 minutes each that engage the historical narrative as well as political, social, and economic themes. I have supplemented each lecture with a list of key terms and an assortment of primary sources...you can read for yourself what the historical actors were saying as you follow along. I designed this course especially for history students (high school/AP and college undergrads) but anyone with an interest in this most contentious and complicated period of US history will find this course useful and engaging. My students tend to enjoy my colloquial teaching style and - in addition - I invite anyone who wants to take the conversation further to reach out to me personally here or any other social media platform.
You might find it surprising that Reconstruction began early in the Civil War. But it seems that agreeing on exactly how to go about reconstructing was a tough nut to crack.
Reconstruction did not unfold in the same way everywhere. Here are a few case studies.
Freedom did not mean the same thing to everyone, just ask a Radical Republican or a freedman.
Lincoln belongs to the ages and Andrew Johnson is at the national helm - let's see how that works out.
As you might have guessed, the Radicals don't see eye to eye with their president. Here's how they handled things.
It's always good to have a supermajority in Congress - especially when you need to pass through some radical legislation.
When all else fails, just can the executive - or at least give it your best shot.
The Republicans enjoy a smashing victory with their war hero: Ulysses S. Grant.
The Republicans have control of southern governments - and build a fragile coalition.
If you want to understand political and social change, it's often safe to bet on the economy.
If republicans thought it was going to be easy to contain southern recalcitrance - they should have reconsidered.
The Ku Klux Klan and other racist paramilitary groups attempt to seize the day (and night).
The South was not the only region undergoing change. Big things were happening in the North and the West.
The panic of 1873 ground to a halt much of the spreading economic prosperity...and depression lasted for years.
One of the most contentious elections in United States history - people even talked of a second Civil War!
With northerners losing interest in federal interference in the South, southern Democrats reclaim power.
Reconstruction came alive in the first half of the twentieth century via the film medium. Here's a few ideas about the "history" on film.
A few topics that you should now be able to discuss with great brilliance...and I am always happy to hash things out. Just let me know!
Keith Harris is a historian, an author, a runner, a social media aficionado, and an animal rights advocate. He received his BA at the University of California at Los Angeles (summa cum laude) and his Ph.D. in United States history at the University of Virginia. He has taught courses in US history at UVa and UC Riverside, and currently teaches at a private high school in Los Angeles. His work focuses on nineteenth and twentieth-century American history with a special emphasis on the Civil War, Reconstruction, memory, the Progressive Era, and national Reconciliation. His first book, Across the Bloody Chasm: the Culture of Commemoration Among Civil War Veterans, is available from the Louisiana State University Press. Keith is the creator and host of Keith Harris History, a multi-media American history network. He is currently researching for a project on the making of the controversial silent film, The Birth of a Nation. He lives and works in Hollywood, California