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Framing Reconstruction: Presidents, Popular Sentiment, and the Idea of a Lost Moment of Racial Accommodation

November 17, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm

Should Reconstruction be considered a lost moment when the loyal citizenry of the United States, having defeated the slaveholders’ rebellion and killed slavery, squandered an opportunity to provide full political and social equality for African Americans in the wake of Appomattox? This program explores how the four Reconstruction presidents have been assessed, how Union war aims shaped the postwar political landscape, and how modern perceptions often ignore attitudes and political realities in the postwar years. It suggests that an appreciation of wartime goals and of American traditions regarding a peacetime professional military establishment render the story of Reconstruction not only understandable but also predictable.

Gary W. Gallagher  is John L. Nau III Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia. A specialist on the 19th-Century U.S., he has published widely on the history and memory of the Civil War. His books include The Confederate War (1997);Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War  (2008),The Union War (2011),The American War: A History of the Civil War Era (co-authored with Joan Waugh, rev. ed., 2019), and The Enduring Civil War: Reflections on the Great American Crisis (2020).   


 Joan Waugh is Professor of History Emerita at UCLA, where she taught courses on the Civil War and the Gilded Age and won the University’s highest teaching awards. A former president of the Society of Civil War Historians, she has written, edited, or co-authored numerous works, among themUnsentimental Reformer: The Life of Josephine Shaw Lowell (1997), The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture(2004), U.S. Grant: American hero, American Myth (2009), and The American War: A History of the Civil War Era (2020).   

A Preview Interview with Dr. Joan Waugh and Dr. Gary Gallagher

Further Reading

Here, you’ll find more resources to feed your interest in the topics covered at this event.

More by Dr. Waugh and Dr. Gallagher

Gallagher, Gary, and Waugh, Joan. The American War: A History of the Civil War Era. Flip Learning, 2019.

“U S Grant and the Crisis of Reconstruction.” Youtube, uploaded by Miller Center2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjQf_W69iWk&t=2291s.

Primary Sources

National Parks Service. “Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction.” https://www.nps.gov/anjo/andrew-johnson-and-reconstruction

Secondary Sources

Foner, Eric. “Successes and Failures of Reconstruction Hold Many Lessons.” The New York Times, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/05/26/how-should-americans-remember-reconstruction/successes-and-failures-of-reconstruction-hold-many-lessons

Gordon-Reed, Annette. “What If Reconstruction Hadn’t Failed?” The Atlantic, 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/what-if-reconstruction-hadnt-failed/412219/

Grant, Jordan. “In 1868, Black Suffrage Was on the Ballot.” Smithsonian Mag, 2021. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-history/2021/02/19/black-male-suffrage/

Guelzo, Allen. “Reconstruction Didn’t Fail. It Was Overthrown.” Time Magazine, 2018. https://time.com/5256940/reconstruction-failure-excerpt/

Robinson, Armstead L. “Reassessing the First Reconstruction: Lost Opportunity or Tragic Era?” Reviews in American History, vol. 6, no. 1, 1978, pp. 80–86. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/2701480.



November 17, 2022
6:00 pm - 7:15 pm


Dallas Hall 306 (McCord Auditorium)
3225 University Blvd
Dallas, TX 75205 United States
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