Read the portions of the chapter that discuss the Black Codes. Also read the section "Where Historians Disagree: Reconstruction." The following selection is taken from the writings of William A. Dunning. Consider the following questions: How does Dunning's account reveal his racist assumptions? How would accounts such as Dunning's lead white Southerners in the twentieth century to conclude that they had been gravely wronged by Reconstruction? Which of the following positions is more convincing? Were the Black Codes a necessary and realistic response to the situation, or were they a thinly disguised attempt to resubjugate the freedmen?
William A. Dunning
The crop-lien system, initiated during Reconstruction, continued to be a major grievance of Southern farmers well into the twentieth century. The following selection is taken from The Ills of the South, by Charles H. Otken, a Mississippi Baptist preacher and schoolteacher. Consider this document and the relevant parts of the text, and answer the following questions: Why did the crop-lien system arise? What were the consequences of the system on land ownership and crop selection? Could the system be fairly described as a "vicious circle"?
Charles H. Otken
Read the section of the text concerning the case Plessy v. Ferguson, which was decided by the Supreme Court in 1896. Included here are excerpts from the majority opinion and from Justice John Marshall Harlan's lone dissent. Consider the following questions: Which opinion is more convincing concerning the implication of the inferiority of blacks in the "separate but equal" doctrine? How does Harlan's dissent foreshadow the arguments of twentieth-century civil-rights crusaders? Is the United States Constitution today truly "color blind"?
Plessy v. Ferguson
This is the Wade-Davis bill, the first Congressional framework for Reconstruction which was pocket-vetoed by Abraham Lincoln. What does it suggest about the prevailing Reconstruction sentiments in Congress? In what ways does it augur the elements of Congressional Reconstruction that pass after the failure of Andrew Johnson's attempt at "Restoration"?
The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution are sometimes referred to as the foundation of the "Second American Revolution." What do these amendments add to the constitution, and how do they either build upon or alter the work of the Founders?