The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War

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Pat Young

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The blog Muster has a series of reports on a conference at the University of Conn. titled: “The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War.”

The first report can be found here:

https://www.journalofthecivilwarera.org/2019/05/2019-draper-conference-review-the-greater-reconstruction-american-democracy-after-the-civil-war-part-i/

From the blog post:

I would like to start my review of “The Greater Reconstruction” conference by providing a sense of the animating logic of the event. Manisha Sinha, Draper Chair of American History at the University of Connecticut, organized the program. Accordingly, she provided opening remarks around a series of questions that framed the various panels that followed. Fortunately, too, Sinha participated in the closing plenary session and offered some initial thoughts about the cumulative significance of what had taken place (more on that in the next post). Without her guiding vision, this important reconsideration of Reconstruction could not have taken place.

In keeping with the theme, each panel pushed the temporal and historiographic boundaries of Reconstruction. Day one opened with a panel on “The Legal History of Reconstruction” that featured an interdisciplinary gathering of historians and legal scholars. Pamela Brandwein brought attention to the state action doctrine as articulated in the Ex Parte Yarborough case (1884), and especially in the ruling of Associate Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley. Kate Masur connected the repeal of the black laws in the Old Northwest, prior to the Civil War, to the debates surrounding the Thirteenth Amendment in 1866. Christian Samito reminded us of another important truism, namely that the 1866 Civil Rights Act did not abandon an overarching commitment to federalism. John Fabian Witt challenged what he considered the last holdout of the Dunning School—the view of military authority as antithetical to civil rights themselves. Collectively, the opening panel effectively pushed back on the historiographic supremacy of the Cruikshank decision (1876) and the later Civil Rights cases (1883).
 
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Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
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