fo rum The Future of Reconstruction Studies Reconstruction in the South W. Fitzhugh Brundage http://journalofthecivilwarera.org/ forum-the-future-of-reconstruction-studies On its face, Reconstruction was the discrete historical process of reintegrating the former Confederacy into the American nation. This process began as soon as the Union captured territory in the Confederacy (circa early 1862) and concluded with the compromise after the disputed election of 1876, which marked the restoration of home rule by southern whites. But as the inherited periodization of the nineteenth century loosens its grip on our imaginations, the noun "Reconstruction," as applied to postbellum historical processes and to the 186277 period, is likely to lose much of its utility as a descriptor for the subjects and questions that scholars are interested in. The temporal boundaries scholars apply to "Reconstruction" almost certainly will be much more permeable in the future than they were during the twentieth century. This article calls for scholarship that explores more fully the ideas about methods for social reorganization that informed ideas about "reconstruction" even before the Civil War. The article also argues that the conventional end date of Reconstruction obscures political, economic, and social processes that were not synchronized with presidential elections. Embracing a more capacious and flexible periodization of reconstruction is not intended to dismiss long-emphasized themes or turning points in the scholarship, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, presidential Reconstruction, Radical Reconstruction, the so-called Reconstruction constitutional amendments, or the retreat from Reconstruction. To the contrary, these events will remain central to the interpretation of the long durée of reconstruction. But attention to the long durée allows us to better recognize the asynchronous pattern and speed of change in the region.
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jan 26, 2017