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Fifth Conference of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fifth Conference of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance was held in London, England from April 26 to May 1, 1909. Twenty countries were represented. Representatives from twenty countries attended, with Carrie Chapman Catt presiding.[1] Delegates included Johanna Munter (Denmark), Rosika Schwimmer (Hungary), Dr. Anita Augspurg (Germany), Zénéide Mirovitch (Russia), and Gina Krog (Norway).[2]

The conference is sometimes referred to as the First Quinquennial International Woman Suffrage Alliance Meeting or the Fourth Conference of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.


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>> David Ferriero: Good evening. I'm David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States. It's a pleasure to welcome you to the National Archives and the William G. McGowan Theater this evening. A special welcome to those of you who are joining us on YouTube. We are very pleased to host tonight's lecture "Reconstruction and the Fragility of Democracy" in partnership with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. As part of this week's 42nd Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies. Tonight's lecture will be given by Eric Foner, Professor of History at Columbia University and one of the nation's leading historians and no stranger to National Archives audiences. Considered the leading expert on the Reconstruction period of American history, Professor Foner has written nearly a dozen books on the subject and received the Pulitzer Prize for history as well as the prestigious Bancroft Prize for his works in history. Before we get to tonight's program I'd like to tell you about two events upcoming in this theater. Tomorrow, November 13, at noon, author James Holland will be here to discuss his new book, "The Rise of Germany 19391941: The War in the West." Holland weaves together the experiences of individuals with the war's impact to redefine our understanding of one of the most significant conflict in history. On Wednesday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m., we'll present the 11th Annual McGowan Forum on Communications titled "Drawn From the Headlines: Communication and Political Cartoons." It will feature a discussion with five awardwinning editorial cartoonists discussing their own work, what inspires and motivates political cartoons, the effects the cartoons have and the impact of changing technology. To learn more about these and all of our upcoming programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events, copies in the lobby as well as a signup sheet where you can receive it by regular mail or email. And another way to get involved is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The foundation supports all of our education and outreach activities. There are applications also in the lobby. The National Archives holds a wealth of records about Reconstruction. They can be found in the records of the U.S. Senate, the records of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the records of individual agencies such as the Freedmen's Bureau. Some examples include the Wade-Davis Bill as amended in 1864. This bill spelled out what the Confederate states had to do to return to the Union after the Civil War. It required that 57% of the states, white males, take a loyalty oath and that states must give blacks the right to vote. Congress cleared the bill in July 1864 but it was pocket vetoed by President Lincoln and therefore never became a law. However, some of its provisions were later included in legislation in 1867 and 1868 that was passed into law after Congress overrode the vetoes of President Andrew Johnson. Another example is the December 7, 1868, House Joint Resolution proposing the 15th Amendment to the Constitution which was ratified on February 3, 1870. It grants citizens the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, a right that many blacks were unable to exercise for years. I should mention here, the opening in March of a new exhibit, "Amending America" in our O'Brien Gallery upstairs. It will tell the story of some of the more than 11,000 efforts to amend the Constitution; some serious, many frivolous. Today the Constitution, as you know, only has 27 amendments. Now, it's my pleasure to turn the program over to John Suau, the Executive Director of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. John is a global expert on arts and collections management, cultural partnerships and diversity, an accomplished arts administrator with a range of domestic and international experience, served as Executive Director of the MidAtlantic Association of Museums and is a manager of meetings, professional, education, and diversity for the DCbased American Alliance of Museums where he helped coordinate the only hemispheric museum conference about museums, cultural tourism in sustainable communities. He's lived and studied in Italy and Spain where he worked with art galleries, publications, and film and television studios. Please join me in welcoming John Suau to the stage. >> [Applause] >> John Suau: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here this evening as we embark on what I hope will be the first of many collaborations with the National Archives Foundation. It is my pleasure to also acknowledge that this lecture is the opening event of the 42nd Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies. The conference has been indispensable gatherings since 1974. That year the Historical Society of Washington DC, the DC Public Library, and the George Washington University came together to discuss and support original scholarship in the history of local Washington, DC, and its metropolitan area. The conference runs through Sunday. Most sessions take place at our headquarters at the historic Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon Square. You'll find information on the great sessions and networking opportunities in the handout you received as you entered tonight. The Historical Society has been collecting, interpreting, and sharing DC history for over 121 years. Today we offer the public invaluable research, collections, public programs, and workshops. We are a major destination for school groups from elementary to graduate levels. I look forward to welcoming you all to the conference and our upcoming exhibition and events. We welcome your support as volunteers and donors. Tonight I am pleased to introduce to you a trustee of the Historical Society, Debra Friedmann. It is our good fortune that Debbie is also a trustee of the Curt C. and Else Silberman philanthropic foundation which has made possible tonight's lecture. Debbie? >> [Applause] >> Debra Friedmann: Thank you, John. A little special treat to be here at the National Archives. On behalf of the Silberman Foundation, it is our privilege to sponsor and my privilege to introduce our guest lecturer this evening. First a word about Curt Silberman for whom this lecture is named. As an attorney in Germany, before World War II, Curt witnessed the rise of Nazi power. He watched the civilized society dissolve and endured the disastrous consequences. Immigrating to the United States in 1936, he devoted his life to addressing the needs of Holocaust survivors globally and to understanding the roots of its evil. He was particularly focused upon what he called the fragility of democracy. He had seen how democracy carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. He understood the importance of knowing the past in order to be effective and vigilant in the present. Now about our special guest tonight. Professor Eric Foner has spent much of his professional career exploring how the expansion of political participation during and after the Civil War held the promise of a stronger democracy for the United States. Professor Foner is the Professor of History at Columbia University which he entered as a college freshman in 1959. While the bulk of his career has been at Columbia University, he also has taught at City College and City University of New York, Oxford, Cambridge, and University of London. He is the author of 10 books. His book "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution" won the Bancroft Prize. And The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, received the Pulitzer Prize for history. He also has won recognition for his outstanding teaching. And he's not all work and no play. Many of you have watched his recorded lectures on YouTube. I know I have. Or seen him on "The Daily Show" or The Colbert Report." We are in for a treat. Presenting his talk "Reconstruction and the Fragility of Democracy," Professor Eric Foner. >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: Thank you very much for your kind introduction. Thank you all for coming out this evening. It's a great pleasure to be here, back at the National Archives, where I have spoken a number of times and to take part in the conference, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is having now, this weekend. When I'm finished speaking, I would be delighted to answer questions or field comments for a while so please feel free. There are these two microphones on either staircase. And people who want to ask questions should go to the mics when I'm done. So just bare that in mind so that everyone else can hear you. As you know, I'm sure, around 1830, Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States from France in order to study prisons in the United States. But after he was here for a little while, he decided he was studying the wrong thing and that to really understand America he should study democracy, which he actually disapproved of as a kind of upper-class Frenchman but he understood that the democracy that was developed in the United States was sort of the preview of what Europe would be going through in the future. So democracy has always been pretty central to our concept of ourselves as a nation. But as the title of the lecture and, you know, as was mentioned, the question of the fragility of democracy has also been persistent here. The fragility of democracy is not just a historical question. It's a problem today. The inordinate influence of money in our political system, efforts in many states to limit the right to vote, to take the right to vote away from people who have been exercising it. Democracy has always been contested in our history as well as something that many Americans are very proud of. I'm going to talk tonight about the Reconstruction era immediately after the Civil War which really I think exemplifies this question of democracy and its fragility better than almost any other period in American history. Now, as was mentioned, I've devoted a great deal of my own career as a historian to studying Reconstruction. I have written several books about it. I curated a museum exhibit about it in the 1990s. I was on a PBS TV documentary about it at one point. But I have to admit that many Americans know little or nothing about Reconstruction. A while ago, the Department of Education did a survey of graduating seniors in American high schools, 20,000 of them or something like that, and they were asked to sort of say something intelligible about various things in American history. And like 90% could say something about the Westward movement, the Civil Rights movement, etc. But at the bottom of the list, the lowest score of anything in American history was Reconstruction. Only about 20% of these graduating seniors could say anything about Reconstruction. This occurred soon after I published a 600page book on Reconstruction. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: So I found it disheartening. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: The fact is, even if we're not aware of it, Reconstruction is part of our lives today in the United States. Or to put it another way, many of the key issues facing our society right now are Reconstruction questions or at least you can't really understand them unless you know something about that period 150 years ago now. The much abused term relevance certainly applies to Reconstruction nowadays. The definition of American citizenship, who is entitled to be an American in the first place, that is alive in our presidential politics, as you all know, and is a Reconstruction question. It was citizenship, the right to be considered an American, was debated and defined and redefined during the Reconstruction era. The relationship between the federal government and the states, the balance of power in our federal system, was, again, reworked during Reconstruction. Terrorism was a Reconstruction phenomenon, not the terrorism of abroad, homegrown American terrorism, the Ku Klux Klan and similar organizations which can only be described as terrorist groups, thrived in some places during Reconstruction. And the question of how to deal with terrorism was very much on the public agenda in the late 1860s, early 1870s. And the relationship between political and economic democracy, something that's also on our political agenda today, was a Reconstruction question, much debated very vigorously then. So my point is, and one could go on with this, you can't really understand American society today without knowing something about Reconstruction. But perhaps most importantly, from our perspective tonight, Reconstruction was a pivotal moment in the history of American democracy. Many years ago the great W.E.B. Du Bois wrote a book "Black Reconstruction in America" which was a pioneering effort to rethink the history of that period. It was published in the 1930s. The subtitle of Du Bois' book was "The Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America." Du Bois identified this as a critical moment in the history of democracy. Reconstruction reminds us both of the radical promise of genuine democracy and democracy's fragility. One other thing I want to mention before I get into the actual history here is that Reconstruction is also a prime example of what we call the politics of history. I don't mean by that whether the historian is a democrat or a republican or something like that. I mean by the politics of history the way in which historical interpretation, both reflects and helps to shape the world in which the historian is writing. As many of you know, for many, many years, really most of the 20th Century, what we call the standard or old or Dunning school view of Reconstruction dominated historical writing, textbooks and popular thinking. In a very quick nutshell, in that view Reconstruction was the lowest point in the whole saga of American democracy. President Abraham Lincoln, according to this interpretation, at the end of the Civil War wanted to bring the defeated South back into the Union in a quick, lenient, forgiving manner. After his assassination, his policy was continued by his successor, Andrew Johnson, but Johnson was thwarted, according to this view, by the villains of the piece, the radical Republicans, in Congress. Motivated either -- depending on which book you read, either by a vindictive hatred of the South or the desire to fasten the grip of Northern capitalism upon the South or simply the desire to keep the Republican Party in power. Whatever their motivation, they overthrew Johnson's lenient plan and imposed black suffrage, black male suffrage, the right to vote for black men in the defeated South. According to this view, black people were just incapable of exercising democratic rights intelligently; they should not be part of political democracy. And what happened was an orgy of corruption and misgovernment presided over by carpetbaggers, that is Northerners who came down to reap the spoils of office, scalawags, as they were called, white southerners who abandoned their race and cooperated with blacks, and the African Americans themselves. Eventually, according to this view, the patriotic society is like the Ku Klux Klan, overthrew these governments and restored what was politely called home rule or what we would call honestly white supremacy in the South. This view received a scholarly impression over 100 years ago at my university, Columbia University, in the work of William Dunning, John Burgess and a slew of their graduate students who published studies of Reconstruction in various states. It reached a broad audience with the film "Birth of a Nation" which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan. And in the 1920s, one of the great bestsellers of that era, "The Tragic Era" by Claude Bowers. So, what about the politics of history? This view had an amazing longevity. We historians make our living by overturning previous interpretations. Right? That's what we do, to remain the standard view for 50, 60, 70 years is unprecedented, really unprecedented. But from 1900 to the 1960s, this was the standard view of Reconstruction. What explains its longevity is that this view of Reconstruction was congruent with the racial system of the United States from 1900 until the Civil Rights era. In other words, this view was part of the intellectual justification of the Jim Crow South. The lessons of that were very clear. One, it was a mistake to give black people the right to vote; they misused it. Therefore, any effort to restore the right to vote to black people that had been taken away around 1900 in the southern states, any of effort to restore the right to vote should be resisted because it would just lead to another example of the horrors of Reconstruction. Secondly, Reconstruction was imposed on the South by northern outsiders. Maybe some of them were even motivated by humanitarian sentiment. But nonetheless, it proved that outsiders don't really understand southern race relations and the White South should resist outside criticism which began to develop in the 1930s and 40s. Again, if race relations changed, the horrors of Reconstruction would be revisited. And finally, and this is a little arcane now, Reconstruction was a strong argument for what used to be called the solid Democratic South because Reconstruction was granted by the Republican party and southern democrats insisted if white people voted Republican, would get another Reconstruction again. The memory of Reconstruction was used as a mark of the solid south. In fact, Claude Bowers, who wrote "The Tragic Era" -- Bowers was a democratic newspaper editor in Indiana. He wrote that book because in 1928, for the first time since Reconstruction, Herbert Hoover, the Republican presidential candidate, carried some southern states because many white southerners were not willing to vote for Al Smith, the Democratic candidate. He didn't care about Reconstruction. He cared about warning people in 1928, `29, they should not vote Republican anymore in the South. This is what's going to happen if people continue as they did to vote for Hoover then. So that's the politics of this old view. When the Civil Rights revolution came about, the pillars of this old interpretation completely fell to the ground. Once you eliminate the racism, once you eliminate the idea that black people are somehow incapable of being thought of not being part of democracy, then the whole edifice crumbled and the era was completely reinterpreted. Today I think most historians see Reconstruction as a noble if failed effort to establish for the first time in American history interracial democracy. The tragedy, we now think, was not that Reconstruction was attempted but that it failed and that, therefore, it left to subsequent generations this difficult problem of racial justice in the United States. Now, to understand how radical Reconstruction was and how it reshaped American history in significant ways, we have to go back briefly to before the Civil War and just remember what the situation then was. As you know, on the eve of the Civil War in 1860, there were four million slaves in the United States. There were also a quarter million free black people, half of them more or less in the North and half in the South, but they were by no means included in democratic rights. Black men in the South, of course, had virtually no rights. Free ones in the North, they could not vote except in a handful of states in New England. In other words, democracy was for white people in the United States before the Civil War. And this was the power of slavery, the most important economic institution in the United States before the Civil War by far, shaping the concept of nationality of citizenship and democracy. On the eve of the Civil War, the law of the land as laid out by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision of 1857 was that no black person could be a citizen. Forget about slaves. Free black people born here could not be a citizen of the United States. Citizenship was for whites only. Now, I don't emphasize this to say look how racist people were but to emphasize the radical change that came about because of the Civil War and the destruction of slavery. The political scientist Benedict Anderson, in a book about 20 years ago, coined a phrase to describe nationhood. He called it the imagined community. A nation is not just a set of boundaries on a map, a physical space, but it's a kind of intellectual idea as well, an imagined community, people's concept of who is and is not part of the nation. Well, Reconstruction brought about a redefinition of the American nation. The only people before the Civil War who had anticipated this were the abolitionist movement, black and white. They had put forward an alternative concept of Americanism, which was to sever the idea of democracy and citizenship from race. The United States could be a multiracial democracy of equals. That did not exist before the Civil War. But the Civil War and Reconstruction took that idea of severing race from democracy and put it into the laws and Constitution. The immediate catalyst for this was, I think, the service of 200,000 black men in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War. By the end of the war it become widely accepted in the North certainly that by serving in the Army, black men had staked a claim to citizenship in the Postwar world. Fighting and dying for the nation gave them a claim to subsequent participation. Now, Abraham Lincoln himself is a perfect example of this. Lincoln had never supported the basic rights of free black people before. He hated slavery but he was certainly not a racial egalitarian before the Civil War. But during the war he changed his mind. And by the end of the war he was advocating the right to vote for some African American men. In his last speech before he was assassinated in April 1865, speaking of Reconstruction, Lincoln said he said, "I would prefer that some black men be given the right to vote." Who? Well, he said the very intelligent. This is the free black population and those who served nobly in our ranks. In other words, the former soldiers. Now, that's not universal suffrage but by this point Lincoln is way ahead of the curve. At that moment only five Northern states allowed any black men to vote and yet Lincoln is calling for a significant degree of black voting in the Postwar South. Now, Lincoln, of course, did not live to try to put a Reconstruction plan into effect. His successor, Andrew Johnson -- I think has a good claim to being the worst president in American history. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: There is competition for that slot. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: But Johnson is a strong contender. He lacked all of Lincoln's qualities of greatness. He was deeply racist. He had no sense of public opinion. He had no connection with the Republican Party. He had no feel for the political situation at the end of the Civil War. And basically he thought black people should just go back to work on plantations, get paid some wages now, and have nothing to do. He thought that government should continue to be in the hands of white people. Johnson set up new governments in the South in 1865 in the months after the Civil War, completely controlled by white southerners. He opposed blacks voting anywhere at any time. These new governments passed a series of laws which we called the Black Codes which tried to use the power of state governments to force the former slaves back basically made it a crime for black people not to go to work for a white person. If you didn't have a labor contract to work for the entire year for a white person, you were guilty of vagrancy. You could be arrested, fined, and if you couldn't pay the fine, you would be just sent out to work on a plantation. The point of these Black Codes is not that they were effective. They weren't. But that they turned Northern public opinion against Johnson's policy. They seemed to be attempting to reestablish a form of slavery in the South. Very quickly in 1866 Congress decided that Johnson's plan, the Republican Congress, Johnson's plan needed serious revision. In the spring of 1866, they passed one of the most important laws in American history, the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This is the origin of the concept of civil rights as a point of national law or jurisprudence in this country. It was the first one to declare who is a citizen of the United States and what rights citizens are to enjoy. The Civil Rights Act states at the beginning that anybody born in the United States is a citizen of the United States. That seems pretty simple. But it was not the case before the Civil War because black people born here couldn't be citizens. And this is the concept we call birthright citizenship which, again, is a Reconstruction idea which has become enormously controversial in the last couple of years. Birthright citizenship is a genuine example of what we sometimes call American exceptionalism. I'm not a gigantic fan of American exceptionalism as a concept because too often when people claim things are exceptional, it's mostly because they don't know anything about any other country. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: And many things claimed to be exceptional are not exceptional at all but I don't know what's going on elsewhere. But birthright citizenship is exceptional. There is no country in Europe today which gives automatic citizenship to everybody born there. I think Canada does but very few advanced countries do. As I say, it's controversial today because this gives the children of undocumented immigrants born here automatic citizenship. That is the case. If a person comes from Mexico, I guess, you know and they get through the wall, which President Trump is going to build, and the woman has a child here, whatever the status of the parent, that child is a citizen of the United States. This principle is a statement about what kind of society we are, that anybody can be a good American. It doesn't matter we don't have a religious test. We don't have a racial test. We don't have a test of who your parents are. Anybody can be an American. It's certainly up for grabs at the moment. And the Civil Rights Act and then the 14th Amendment, which puts this idea into the Constitution, don't actually say anything about race in that. It applies to everybody. Across the board, not just former slaves. Then the Civil Rights Act went on to say, ok, all of these citizens born here are to enjoy basic legal equality, basic equality before the law. They list a series of things which everyone, all citizens who enjoy these equally. The law has to apply equally to everybody. This completely repudiated the legal history of the United States up to that point. Every state in the Union had laws discriminating against black people, making something a crime for a black person when it wasn't a crime for a white person, this kind of thing. They said, no, no, we can't have laws like that anymore. Or even customs, a very intriguing word, customs that deprive citizens of their basic rights are now to be suppressed by the federal government. So anyway, the point is the Civil Rights law was a very important turning point until the history of citizenship and democracy in this country. But, of course, a law can be repealed by the next Congress. So very quickly Republicans put these principles into the Constitution itself in the 14th Amendment, passed by Congress in 1866, ratified eventually by 3/4 of the states by 1868. Again put this principle of equality before the law, equal protection of the law. No state can deprive any citizen or any person, actually, not even a citizen, of the equal protection of the law. Put it into the Constitution. The word equal is not in the original Constitution. The original Constitution says nothing about the equality of citizens. The founders were not interested in that. They did not believe all citizens were equal in any way. It was the 14th Amendment which made the Constitution what it is today; that is to say, a vehicle through which aggrieved groups who claim they lack equality can take their claims to court. For a long time it wasn't used that way. But in the 1960s, `70s, era up to today, the courts have used the 14th Amendment to expand the basic rights of all sorts of groups, not just former slaves. And, of course, this doesn't say anything about former slaves. It talks about citizens born in the United States. Most recently, not that long ago, the opinion written by Justice Kennedy in the decision that said that states cannot prohibit gay people from enjoying marriage, that's a 14th Amendment decision. That's an equal protection of the law decision. Now, the people in 1866 weren't thinking about gay marriage, obviously. But they put these principles into the Constitution knowing that that concept of equality would expand over time in ways, of course, they were not capable of anticipating 150 years earlier. So every section of the Supreme Court now has cases arising out of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment and Civil Rights law also mark a significant change in the federal system; that is the relationship of the federal government and the states. The Civil War had crystallized in the minds of Northerners the idea of a powerful national government protecting the basic rights of American citizens. The [Inaudible] called this the Constitutional revolution of Reconstruction. It not only put this concept of equal rights into the Constitution but it empowered the federal government to enforce that equality. You can see the point I'm making. If you compare the 13th, 14th and 15th, Reconstruction amendments, all three of them, to the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments which lists our basic civil liberties, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, speech, trial by jury, etc., etc. One of the first words of the Bill of Rights, of the First Amendment, Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, press, Congress. The Bill of Rights restricts the federal government. It has nothing to do with the states when it was passed. It was written by people who thought that the danger to liberty was a too powerful federal government. An idea we certainly hear a lot today as well. It had nothing to do with states. Could a state suppress freedom of speech? Absolutely. Try to give a speech against slavery in South Carolina. You're in jail. Is that a violation of the First Amendment? No. Because it's a state doing it not the federal government. Massachusetts had an established church until 1825. Was that a violation of the First Amendment? No, because it was a it was a state not the federal government. Now look at the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, all of them end with a clause saying Congress shall have the power to enforce this amendment. Congress shall make no law versus Congress shall have the power. Bill of Rights restricts the federal government, 13th, 14th, 15th Amendment empower the federal government. A fundamental shift. Now, as a result of the Civil War and the end of slavery, the national government is seen as the protector of individual rights and the states are seen as the ones likely to violate your rights. The 14th Amendment makes the federal government, for the first time, what the great abolitionist senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner, called the custodian of freedom. And certainly ever since in the 20th Century, etc., when aggrieved groups look for their rights, they often appeal to the federal government and certainly the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s required federal intervention to force the states to abide by the law. So this is a fundamental shift about where the responsibility for protecting the rights of citizens lies, federal authority, the federal courts which have overturned over and over state discriminatory action. And that is a Reconstruction principle. Now, so far I haven't said anything about the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act, the 14th Amendment said nothing about the right to vote. But soon thereafter Congress decided that the governments that had been set up, the all-white governments that had been set up by President Johnson, were just no good. In fact, they were worse than no good. They were terrible and decided there had to be new governments in the South based on manhood suffrage. No state at this time gave women the right to vote. We're talking about which men ought to have the right to vote. In 1867 congress mandated that black men should have the right to vote in creating new governments in the South. It didn't apply to the North at that moment. As I said, before the Civil War, only a tiny handful of black men could vote anywhere in the Union. Suddenly now many, hundreds of thousands of them, are given the right to vote. And this is a fundamental change in American democracy. And then that principle is put into the Constitution in the 15th Amendment, which is ratified by 1870. But the 15th Amendment is a little bit different from the 13th and 14th. The 13th just abolishes slavery. Slavery can no longer exist in the United States. The 14th establishes the principle of citizenship and equal rights. The 15th is meant to give black men the right to vote throughout the nation but it is not it is phrased in a negative manner. The radical Republicans wanted an affirmative 15th Amendment which said something like all men aged 21 and over have the right to vote that would have been pretty simple but that's not what they did. What they did was they said no state can deprive you of the right to vote because of race. Now, what's the difference? Can't be deprived of the right to vote because of race so black men are going to have the right o to vote. Well, the difference is that many ways of denying peopling right to vote remained legal. The first one was gender. Right? Women could be denied the right to vote because that's not because of race. Right? That's because of gender and not until the 19th Amendment does that change. And even things being done today like, you know, changing the early voting or demanding driver's licenses to vote and all of this kind of thing. Those don't say anything about race. The 15th Amendment almost inadvertently allowed for numerous ways. When southern states did, around the turn of the century, take the right to vote away from black men, they did not do it by law saying, hey, black men can't vote anymore because that would have violated the 15th Amendment. They did it through poll taxes, literacy tests, understanding clauses, which on the face of it were not racial but, in fact, were administered in a way to eliminate entirely black voting. So there was a kind of flaw in this interracial democracy from the beginning which opened the door to serious restrictions on the rights of black men in the south. Well, anyway, the Reconstruction Act of 1867 inaugurates the period we call radical Reconstruction in which these new governments came to power in the South and had many remarkable accomplishments. Black men voted. They held office at all levels of society. It was not as the old Bowers and claim black supremacy. No. Most of the offices remained in the hands of whites but the idea that they were probably up to 2,000 black elected officials in the South during Reconstruction was a pretty amazing change in American democracy. My count and this is not totally I have seen referenced three black elected officials before the Civil War, one in Massachusetts, one in Ohio. Now there are thousands of them, quite a change in how our political system operated. These governments established the first public school systems in the South, the first statesupported they hadn't managed to have that under slavery. They tried to rebuild the Southern economy. They tried to protect to some extent the rights of black laborers on the plantations. It was a remarkable experiment in democracy. But, of course, former slaves coming out of slavery had needs other than voting and holding office and that kind of thing. They came out without property, without any economic wherewithal, and, of course, they said we need economic democracy as well as political democracy. The phrase which reverberated throughout the South which many people have heard of even though they don't know about Reconstruction was 40 acres and a mule. That was a symbol of the African Americans saying we want an economic foundation for our freedom. We don't want to just be totally dependent on white employers. Give us land, they said, and then we will be truly independent. Of course, that did not happen. Andrew Johnson very early turned land that had come into the hands of the federal government back to their its former owners. In other words, the political revolution went forward but the economic revolution that might have accompanied it did not. Even though there were people like Thaddeus Stevens, the great congressman from Pennsylvania who wanted the federal government to confiscate land in the South from the plantation owners and distribute it among the former slaves, this never was enacted. Most African Americans remained poor, impoverished, with little alternative but to go back to work for white employers. But the political revolution was dramatic enough that, as I said, it inspired a violent counterrevolution, the Ku Klux Klan and groups like that, which used terrorism to assassinate local officials, to intimidate people to try to prevent them from voting, and to try to overturn these new southern governments. Violence was successful in undermining Reconstruction in many parts of the South. But hand in hand with that went a retreat by the 1870s on the part of the North from this ideal of equality, a reluctance to intervene anymore in Southern affairs. And one by one these Reconstruction governments were overturned until by 1877 when we generally date the end of Reconstruction, the entire South was back under the political control of white supremacist democrats where control would remain until the civil rights era. Now, in many ways Washington, D.C. often neglected in this larger narrative of Reconstruction, offers of microcosm of this story that I have been relating. Of course, to this day, Washington, like Puerto Rico and a few other places, offers a proof that our democracy is not quite as all-encompassing as we sometimes like to think. >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: During the Civil War Reconstruction, Washington offered congressional Republicans a kind of laboratory where they could put into effect some of these policies without worrying about sort of states' rights and that kind of thing. The city witnessed battles similar to that in other places over the legal, ideological and practical consequences of the end of slavery. Of course, Washington led the way in abolishing slavery. Congress abolished slavery here in the spring of 1862 well before the Emancipation Proclamation. The act, abolishing slavery, in Washington was highly unusual compared to what came later because it not only abolished slavery but it included money for compensating the owners, monetary compensation, the only place where emancipation went along with monetary compensation in this period and also money for colonizing former slaves who wanted to leave the country. Lincoln and many others at this time thought colonization would accompany emancipation; blacks would go to Africa or Central America or somewhere. Money was appropriated but it wasn't spent. No black person wanted to actually leave. So the money was just remained in the coffers. Ironically, the compensation was meted out in a very unusual way. There was a commission set up to adjudicate only owners loyal to the United States, not pro-Confederate owners, would get monetary compensation. Well, how do you know if the owner is loyal or not? Because they all claim to be loyal when money was at hand. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: Well, often the slaves were interviewed. Yeah, the slaves were interviewed by this commission to say, well, was your owner proConfederate or proUnion? They would say, well, I don't know, when Stonewall Jackson defeated the Union Army, he opened up a big bottle of champagne. I don't know. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: There were instances of owners collaborating with their emancipated slaves. They said, look, Joe, if you testify I'm proUnion, I'll give you some of the money I'm getting. So it was strange. Black people could not testify in court at this time against a white person but in this commission, which was not a court situation, they were able to. And actually it was the word of blacks that determined very often whether the owner so it was a strange story and interesting. And once Washington went through a period of territorial government, with a racially integrated legislature like many of the Southern states, but even at its peak, Reconstruction in Washington was handicapped by congressional oversight continuing, lack of adequate national funding which made the Republicans the Republicans wanted an ambitious public work system. Washington was a wreck, frankly, at this period. And the black constituency desperately wanted jobs on projects to reconstruct the city but there was never enough money, really, to accomplish that. And eventually the city experienced its own form of retreat from Reconstruction and it would take a long, long time again to get back to what passes for home rule here. Well, I'm just pretty much at the end of my time but there's a long story that takes us from the end of Reconstruction to the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, almost a century later, and to today, when as I say, many of these issues are still on our agenda. To make a very long story short, by around 1900, starting with 1890 in Mississippi and ending around 1906 in Georgia -- throughout that period every Southern state took the right to vote away from African American men and instituted the new system of racial domination which goes by the kind of shorthand of Jim Crow. The pillars of this system included racial segregation, taking the right to vote away from black men in the South, the collapse of black education in many place places, severe cutbacks in public funding of education in other facilities for blacks, and, of course, policing the edge of the system, violence, lynching. Between 1880 and 1950, I think about 4,000 people were lynched in this country, most of them African Americans in the South. In the South, the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment which remained on the books were, in effect, abrogated. They were not repealed by Congress but they were violated with impunity with the acquiescence of northern political leaders and, I have to say, with the acquiescence of the Supreme Court of the United States which year by year issued decisions undermining the 14th and 15th amendments. The Civil Rights revolution later on is sometimes called the Second Reconstruction, the same kind of combination of a mass movement of people and federal leadership eventually led to the reinforcing or the reapplication of these Reconstruction laws and amendments. So one of the lessons we might think about here from this story is that rights on the books are not selfenforcing. They're not sufficient. The 14th Amendment remained part of the Constitution, the 15th Amendment. But they were ignored for many, many decades. In other words, as an old phrase goes, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. But the fact that these Reconstruction measures did remain as what Charles Sumner called sleeping giants, sleeping giants in the Constitution, provided a legal basis for the Civil Rights revolution when it arose in the 1950s and `60s. In South Africa in the 1990s, when apartheid was overthrown, they had to write a new Constitution. Because the Constitution they had was an apartheid constitution. We did not need a new constitution. We did not have one. There was no change in the Constitution as a result of the Civil Rights revolution except one small thing, eliminating poll taxes. What we needed was for the old constitution to be enforced. And eventually it was, a century after the first Reconstruction. Now, during the Civil War, Thomas Wentworth Higginson -- an important abolitionist from Massachusetts, who was a commander of black soldiers, the first South Carolina volunteers in the Civil War and later wrote a famous book, "Army Life in a Black Regimen." Higginson remarks, revolutions may go backwards. In a sense, he was warning of the fragility of democracy. Reconstruction was a revolution that went backwards. And in some ways we are still living with the consequence of that history. So thank you very much for listening. >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: Thank you. Thanks very much. As I say, I welcome people making comments or questions. The microphones are over here. So the first gentleman, go ahead. >> Thank you very much. Thank you for your presentation. Given the hostility that many Southerners felt just toward the very presence of black people and many Northerners had no commitment to equality the way we understand it today, what do you think could realistically have been done in 1865, `66 so we wouldn't have had to wait 100 years to even begin? >> Eric Foner: Yeah. Well, you know, that's what we call sort of counterfactual history. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: It's hard to say. But this is a problem of historical study altogether. At any historical moment, let us say the moment we're living in right now, there are always many options available. We do not know what is going to happen. Right? Nobody knows what's going to happen tomorrow, next year, etc. The historian knows what happened. That gives us tremendous advantage. Right? We can write a narrative explaining what happened but the problem with that is it sort of makes everything seem inevitable. Everything is inevitable after it happens. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: But it's not necessarily inevitable before it happens. I don't think the failure of Reconstruction was totally inevitable. I think it was possible to imagine scenarios I'm not talking about utopia on earth. The transition from a slave society to a free society would have been fraught with difficulty under any circumstances. But I think it's possible to imagine further enforcement of the laws and constitutional amendments which would have maybe given Reconstruction more staying power. We can explain why that didn't happen but I'm not sure I would say that was inevitable and there was no other alternative possible. I think, you know, if a more vigorous willingness to enforce these law and constitutional amendments were in existence, then maybe Reconstruction would have lasted longer and some form of actual democracy would have sunk deeper roots in the south. Maybe. You know, as I say, that's counterfactual history. It's hard to know if that really was possible or not. >> To amend the Constitution you needed 3/4 of the states >> Eric Foner: Say that again. >> To amend the Constitution you needed ratification >> Eric Foner: Right. >> When did the southern states come back? >> Eric Foner: That's a great question. Lincoln always insisted by the way, let me just parenthetically say the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery if you saw a movie, you noticed that Lincoln was very active in doing that. But by the way, that's Hollywood not history. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: It gives you the impression that Lincoln originated the 13th Amendment which he definitely did not and he wasn't even interested in it for many months. Later toward the end he got very involved. But that aside, Lincoln always insisted that to amendment the Constitution you needed 3/4 of all states, including Lincoln insisted they had never really seceded. Secession was illegal, etc. But then how are you going to get southern states to ratify? Well, when Lincoln died, I think 21 of the 27 states that were necessary for ratification had ratified. But that meant six were still needed. They came back in under Andrew Johnson. When Johnson created new governments in the South in 1865, one of the things he said was basically he said, look, white people can do whatever they damn well please here; I don't care what happens to blacks. But you've got to ratify the 13th Amendment. Slavery is over, folks. I'm sorry. You've got to ratify you cannot come back without ratifying the 13th Amendment. So it was Johnson who got the final number of votes. Now, there was reluctance. Mississippi refused to ratify it. Mississippi didn't get around to ratifying the 13th Amendment until 1995. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: It's true. It took them a while. But enough states ratified by December 1865 that the 13th now, the 14th Amendment, Johnson's government said we don't want this. But the new government that was set up, the radical Reconstruction governments with black voting, they all ratified the 14th Amendment. Or enough of them to get it through. So it was an interesting political debate. Now, there were people in Congress said forget it; they're out of the Union, we shouldn't count them. It should only be 3/4 of the northern states because they're not here. What is it this? We passed things through Congress when the southerners were absent. We don't say those votes have to be counted. So where but Lincoln and Johnson and others, no, no this would recognize secession if we say they don't have to be counted. So it was a complicated thing. Eventually they got enough southern states to ratify this by forcing them to do so that they became part of the Constitution. People have gone to the Supreme Court over time and said, hey, these things were not really ratified. And the Supreme Court has said, get out of here. We are not touching that one with a 10foot pole. They're part of the Constitution. Forget it. You know? Tough luck. >> You said Reconstruction ended in 1877? That was the deal, wasn't it, in the election of 1876? >> Eric Foner: Some people date it by the socalled bargain. You know, 1876 was a disputed presidential election, the bargain eventually between Hayes and Tilden. Hayes becomes president. He agrees to withdraw the last troops -- there weren't a heck of a lot of them -- from the South and recognized basically white democratic control of the whole south. Now, black men continued voting. Some of Reconstruction continues. It wasn't until the 1890s that the vote was taken away. Historians have an odd we don't know how to count is our basic problem. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: Historians don't know that a century is 100 years which is what the word means, right? Anyway, what we call the long 19th Century which goes from the French Revolution to World War I. There's the long civil rights era. And now there's the long Reconstruction. People are saying, no, it's not 1877. Reconstruction in one form or another goes to 1900. So they're expanding the concept of Reconstruction to include the 1880s, which is fine. A lot of important stuff 1877 is not just the end of everything. It is an important turning point. But in some ways Reconstruction continues after that. So it's a good point. >> So you spoke about the enduring legacy of the Dunning interpretation that lasted pretty much up until the Civil Rights movement. So now we've had 50 years of scholarship or more where a different interpretation has taken hold. I want you to talk about the enduring legacy still, particularly in the white South, of that Dunning interpretation. I lived in the rural South for a long time. I'm thinking particularly of the Andrew Johnson national historic site which is not run by a bunch of yahoos. It's run by the National Park Service. >> Eric Foner: I know. >> It's on the big sign. It says Andrew Johnson, defender of the Constitution. And >> Eric Foner: I've been there. I know. You're not going to change >> So what else >> Eric Foner: What else came out of Greenville, Tennessee? You know Johnson is the man. >> How do you explain why >> Eric Foner: Why does it stick around? It's a perfectly good question. First of all, I have been involved with the National Park Service a lot in trying to get them to upgrade the presentation well, to do something. The Andrew Johnson site is it. There was no National Park Service site in this country other than that one that deals with Reconstruction. >> Which is a horrible one. >> Eric Foner: A horrible comment on the National Park Service. I hate to say it. Now, they have tried in a way to do something about this. Right now they are trying to again. There's a report being issued on places where you might deal with Reconstruction. But, you know, it's true. First of all, the old view still has a lot of staying power. There's no question about it. Among older people who have learned this in schools. It takes a while. Yeah, scholars and universities have overturned it but it takes a long time for that kind of thing to trickle down into popular consciousness. The old view had had a very clear set of heroes, villains, and this kind of thing. Now, it is changing a bit. Certainly I think in Southern schools I lecture a lot in the South. Textbooks are up to date on Reconstruction. I think there is a bit of a change going on in public there are more public memorials. Or they're taking down statues of Klansmen as great leaders and that kind of thing. But it takes a while. There's no question. The most popular movie ever made in this country, "Gone with the Wind" has a whole segment about Reconstruction. Again, it's not quite "Birth of a Nation" but it's pretty much the same thing. It glorifies the Klan, shows black people running amuck. People don't go to "Gone with the Wind" to hear about Reconstruction. They go to find out what happened to Scarlett O'Hara. But they are learning by osmosis some kind of history. It's still out there. It's a good point. It's a point of, what can I say, modesty for historians that we ought to realize how little impact we have on public consciousness, unfortunately. So it's a good point. >> Would you explain a little bit more depth why 150 years after the Civil War or more than two centuries after the creation of this country the District of Columbia, which was originally part of the original United States, is the one place where there is no guarantee of a Republican form of government and no democracy? >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: I agree with you entirely but I have no idea. I really don't know exactly why that has happened. I think in the 20th Century I think the large black population of Washington, D.C. had something to do with the reluctance of Congress to allow Washington, D.C. genuine home rule. >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: If one were going to you know if one were going to make Washington a state, let us say and it has a higher population than a number of states this would be two more Democratic senators, let's say, presumably. So therefore Republicans in Congress are not too happy about that. So, you know, there's always immediate political kind of pros and cons for it. I do not claim to be an expert on the history of Washington, D.C. So but, you know, we have the Historical Society of the District of Columbia represented here. >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: I say ask these guys in the front row about that. They'll give you the answer. Ok? Yeah? >> I'm now going to put Tennessee in a better light with my question. >> Eric Foner: Yes. Thank you. >> Among the original Confederate states, I believe Tennessee was the only one not subject to the old preclearance rule under the Voting Rights Act. Can you give us a little history of how that came about? >> Eric Foner: That's an interesting question. I know Tennessee this probably isn't the reason for that but Tennessee Andrew Johnson was military governor of Tennessee during the Civil War. And Tennessee was actually exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation in order to generate local white support for Johnson's regime there. Johnson's more or less declared the end of slavery in Tennessee anyway at the beginning of 1865. Tennessee ratified was the only southern state to ratify the 14th Amendment before Congress established black suffrage in the rest of the South. So it actually came back in much quicker than most of the other southern states. Nonetheless, the fact is that Tennessee did have disenfranchisement and did have Jim Crow. I don't know enough about the legislative history of Tennessee in the 20th Century to know why it was not put into the Voting Rights Act as a place that needed preclearance. Presumably their voting rules were not quite as discriminatory as other places. I don't know. On the other hand, Tennessee is also the home of Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the major founders of the Ku Klux Klan. And, in fact, there are more statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee than there are of Andrew Jackson, the President, who came out of Tennessee. But he's not as wellknown to the people of Tennessee as Nathan Bedford Forrest. So they have a few things to learn there. So the answer is, just like with Washington, D.C., I don't know. Actually. >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: Historians have to be willing to say that. >> It's good to see you back again. I guess this is my third time with you. Without giving too much credit to the folks who ran Reconstruction you said that Reconstruction was a failure but during Reconstruction, or during that period, we got the creation of the historical black universities that educated a lot of black people, we got public schools, as bad as they were, we got black population that by the end of the 19th Century had created wealth for itself. I think that you got to give some credit to those freedmen who worked with their scalawags and the others to create a Reconstruction that did have some positive results. >> Eric Foner: You know, I don't disagree with you at all. I think that's a good point. When I say it was a failure, I do not want to undercut the many successes it had. It's a failure in failing to permanently establish these basic rights for people that were put into the law and constitution. But you're absolutely right, there were many things that were accomplished in Reconstruction which were not wiped away. As you say, public schools, black universities come out of Reconstruction. Just the creation of a black community, independent black churches, very important. Really created as largescale institutions in Reconstruction. So I appreciate that comment because I do not want to denigrate the people, black and white, who worked in those governments who really did try to make the South a much better place. So the failure is really a national failure, a national failure to fundamentally enforce the law, which is what government ought to be doing. So I accept that point. I do not want to leave the impression that nothing was accomplished in Reconstruction, far from it. Yes? >> When you spoke of American exceptionalism, you said sort of compared to what. And what struck me later was that the 13th Amendment applied to women and the 14th Amendment did not. >> Eric Foner: That's it's certainly true. The 13th Amendment applies to everybody. Nobody can be a slave in this country, man or woman. That's absolutely true. The 14th Amendment applies to everybody. No, when it says birthright citizenship, there's no gender bias on that. >> Equal protection of the laws. >> Eric Foner: That doesn't say anything about women or men. Equal protection of the law the 14th Amendment has a gender thing in the second clause which deals in an indirect way with voting which basically says if states deprive any group of men of the right to vote, they lose representation in Congress. But if they deprive women of the right to vote, no penalty. And that alarmed the women's rights movement very much. That is a gender distinction. But the first clause, equal protection, due process, liberty, birthright citizenship has no gender thing. Now, the fact is, that is constitutional law. It is being superimposed on common law. The common law of coverture, as we call it, grossly discriminated against women. It said a married woman has no legal identity other than through her husband, cannot own property on her own, cannot sign contracts on her own. It's a good point. The clash between constitutional law and common law and I'm not a lawyer but was being fought out in Reconstruction. So I'm certainly not saying that women enjoyed the same equal rights as men. Clearly they didn't. But there's nothing in the language of the 14th Amendment that excludes women from the basic principles of equality that are put in there. >> And yet the principle that you were talking about at the beginning of the revolution was applied to black men and not even black women. >> Eric Foner: Absolutely, of course. That is absolutely right. And this led to a big split between the radical Republicans and the Women's Rights movement. The Women's Rights movement which largely suspended operation during the Civil War in order to press for emancipation now demanded the right to vote for everybody. They didn't oppose black male suffrage. They said we should have man and women suffrage. But the republicans in Congress were not in favor of that and it didn't get implemented. And that led to a very bitter confrontation. So it's a useful it's a good point but it doesn't arise out of the language of the 14th Amendment. It arises out of the sort of power politics of the moment. Yeah? >> Of all the questioners you have here, you need to have one that has a southern accent; so first thing. >> Eric Foner: Good, good. I'd like to hear that. >> I'm a product of Reconstruction. In my family about 22 members of U.S. colored troops, including my great grandfather. My friends are tired of hearing me say that. Two members served in the North Carolina General Assembly. And the gentleman who was here before me, he mentioned that we could have schools and so forth but also churches and businesses and organizations and families, just being able to get married after the war. >> Eric Foner: Of course. >> Just to be able to keep your children was important after the war. >> Eric Foner: Yes. Yes. >> You also said that you really can't tell what's going to happen. But I feel like I do. Now, my guide is Dr.John Franklin's forgotten book "The Militant South." You >> Eric Foner: A good book. >> You need to know what the South was like between 1800 and 1860, which all of my ancestors lived in. You also said something I'm glad to hear you say that no one has said about how the South began to have public schools after the war. They began to have public schools because black people were starting to get schools. And whites couldn't be left behind. So that's why you got public schools. >> [Laughter] >> White folks in the South can thank black freedom for getting their children in public schools >> [Applause] >> And I really hadn't done enough work on this. And you solved that for me. I've been thinking of that all along. >> Eric Foner: Well, yeah. The thing is that these new governments that were set up, the radical Reconstruction governments, were not you know, there was there's a tendency in the old view to say, well, they're just punishing white people now. Instead of the whites punishing blacks, the blacks are punishing whites. That is not the case at all, as you said. They wanted to expand the rights of everybody. They were the real democrats, small d, in the South at that time. So, yeah, they wanted to set up schools. African Americans were desperate for education coming out of slavery, for many reasons. Obviously they understood education was essential to be a free person. But they didn't say, hey, let's just set up schools for blacks. They said, no, we need public school systems for everybody. And they got the first statesupported public school systems in the South. So it's a good point. They were trying to expand they weren't trying to exclude whites. They were trying to expand the definition of the citizenry of the South to include everybody who was there. But there was violent resistance to that was the problem. Yeah. Thanks for raising that >> My final point. It's short. If you look at Dr.Franklin's book, you'll see that the Southern attitude, which is in the South but it's in the Republican Party, is doing everything to that he described. The weaponization of words, the weaponization, in fact, the attack on public school, the reducing of infrastructure, taxes, everything. And the weaponization I believe will lead to a lot of guerrilla activity in the next eight years in this country. The guns continue. As long as you know what is going on, what could happen, the better off you are and you can prepare for it. That's my advice. >> Eric Foner: All right. Thank you. >> Good night. >> Good evening. Thank you for your talk. >> Eric Foner: Thank you. >> With your permission, two questions. In fifth grade my public school had an essay contest on Abraham Lincoln, who I happened to love at the time. I was also enraptured with nature, forests, and especially pine trees. So I wrote an essay comparing him to a pine tree on top of the mountain, the greenery all year long, bending just a little bit with the breezes and all. And I won the contest. >> Eric Foner: Good. >> And then through the years I read a little more and more and more. But I read I'm not trained as a historian. I remember reading a book, I believe it was called "Team of Rivals." >> Eric Foner: "Team of Rivals," of course, Doris Goodwin. >> Right. And two things chagrined me a little bit. Number one, she pointed out that Lincoln this goes back to your pre-Reconstructionist comments. She point out that Lincoln never really aligned himself with the abolitionist forces. >> Eric Foner: Right. >> And I'm wondering if that was a kind of deliberate political calculation given all the states and the organizations and political tendencies and shifting coalitions or whether you see it more as a matter of the lack of kind of moral political will. >> Eric Foner: That's a good question. Lincoln was not an abolitionist, never claimed to be an abolitionist. You're right about that. Why? Lincoln hated slavery. He once said, I think I hate slavery as much as any abolitionist. But then why wasn't he one? The abolitionists insisted that slaves should become free and equal members of the society. This was not Lincoln's view before the Civil War certainly. He was never an opponent of racism in the same way he was an opponent of slavery until maybe the very, send of his life. It's also worth noting that Lincoln was a politician. The abolitionists were agitators outside of politics mostly. Lincoln was a politician. There weren't hardly any abolitionists in the Illinois and certainly the part of Illinois that he lived in which was mostly settled by Kentuckians and others. If you were an abolitionist, your chances of getting elected to anything was pretty nil. But Lincoln knew abolitionists, cooperated with them. When the Republican Party was found, in Northern Illinois there were abolitionists and there were conservative Republicans this is the 1850s who said we can't work with those guys; we got to get them out the party. And Lincoln said, to use I'm paraphrasing him, using a modern phrase. Hey, those people are part of our base. You know? You can't win just with your base but you don't alienate your base if you're a political leader. They're an important part of the party. So Lincoln was willing to work with abolitionists. In the Civil War when a bunch of radicals, abolitionists from Missouri, came to the White House to bother Lincoln and Missouri was a total mess. The Civil War was going on. Lincoln didn't want to hear about it. They came and talked to him. When they left, Lincoln said to John Hayes, secretary, said this in his diary, he said those guys are devils but they're devils facing Zion-ward. In other words, I don't agree with them but we're sort of heading they are going in the right direction. You know? They're not like the Southerners. I'm for the end of slavery. They're for the end of slavery. Different ideas of how to do it, etc. So Lincoln's relation to the abolitionists is complex. He was not one but he was not antiabolitionists either the way so many Northerners were at the time. >> All right. The second part of my first question is >> [Laughter] >> Eric Foner: I think we have one more question. >> Another point she makes is that some of Lincoln's more dramatic action to free the slave was actually triggered by his need for more men in the Army. >> Eric Foner: Yeah. Well, the Emancipation Proclamation includes for first time authorization of enrolling black men in the Army. By that point, yes, that was an important consideration. You know, at the beginning of the Civil War, like with many wars, people were gung ho and had a romantic idea of warfare and enlistment. North and South was vigorous. By 1862, people realized this was not very romantic war. It was a horrible slaughter in some ways. In this enlistment was falling. Both sides eventually had to use conscription. And Lincoln realized that the reservoir and black man power couldn't be ignored. That was one of the numerous the Emancipation Proclamation is caused by many, many things. But one of them is the need for black soldiers. No question about it. Ok. Let me just get over here >> Could I do a real quick one? >> No! >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: I think we need to give other people a chance to speak. >> Thank you. Your talk was wonderful. I love your sense of humor. I also like my friend Marvin back here. I'm not from the southern real South but I'm from Oklahoma, which wasn't even a state then but they have slaves. We had our battle of honey springs. >> Eric Foner: There was a little bit of a war out there. No question. >> But I remember when I was in school and when you studied the Civil War. We studied Civil War, a lot of battles. But when it came to the Reconstruction, the only thing I remember is a picture I can see it still in that book -- of a carpetbagger, literally carrying a carpet. That was the Reconstruction. All of these carpetbaggers came and how horrible it was for the South. But I just had to say that because of Marvin. What I really wanted to bring up was another book. I frankly can't remember the author. I feel stupid about that but it's an important book, too. "The Cause of all Nations." Its about the Civil War and internationally. >> Eric Foner: Doyle? >> That's it. At any rate, one of the major points comes through in this book over and over is how internationally how important the other countries were look at us as a model of democracy and if we lost the Civil War, then what did that mean for France and other countries that were struggling with the same kind of wanting a democracy. Of course, they were always going up and down in theirs. That makes me also think: Is there a model about slavery? There were other countries like the U.K., Brazil, other countries that gave up their slaves and didn't have a Civil War. Is there a model? Is there some model of another way that the >> Eric Foner: That's first of all, it's a good point. Historians American historians, the latest tendency or trend which is valuable is to look at American history in a more global perspective which is fine. At the time people were very aware of the international implications of Civil War. Lincoln certainly himself the Gettysburg that's what the Gettysburg Address is about. Right? This is about whether this war is about whether democracy will perish from the earth not just from the United States. The idea was that the U.S. was a symbol of democracy, a representative of democracy. And if the government was sort of destroyed, it would be a blow to democracy everywhere not just within this continent so to speak. Could slavery yes. Many places have had slavery. Many places have abolished slavery. In Haiti it was abolished by a violent revolution of the slaves. In the British Empire it was abolished by the British paying them all, basically. They abolished slavery and then paid gigantic compensation to the owners. Lincoln proposed that, you know, here. In the first and second year of the Civil War Lincoln was proposing compensated emancipation. He asked Congress to place constitutional amendments authorizing that. He went to Delaware early on, to the representative Delaware only had 1,800 slaves. He said let's get the ball rolling. We'll buy all your slaves. We'll free them. Delaware said, no way; we're not interested in this, Lincoln; get out of here. We want our slaves. In other words, peaceful means of getting rid of slavery were tried in the United States and they failed. The problem is the South didn't want to give up its slaves. They wanted their slaves. So I had never seen a plausible scenario for the peaceful abolition of slavery in this country. War is a horrible thing. I do not glorify the Civil War. But as Du Bois said, and I'll finish with this, in black Reconstruction war is violence, anarchy, slaughter but sometimes good comes from it. And in this case the good that came from it was the destruction of slavery which couldn't have happened in any other way. Ok. >> [Applause] >> Eric Foner: Thank you very, very much. >> [Applause] >> Jane Levy: Thank you so much, Professor. I'm Jane Levy. I am the Chair of the Historical Studies Conference this year. It's been my great pleasure to work on this project to see all of you here. We have a reception upstairs which is why we're cutting off the conversation from the podium. I think we'll be able to continue it upstairs. So please join us for more. >> Eric Foner: Great. Ok. Thank you all. >> [Applause] 1

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