My Response to the PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Publisher: Dissident Voice
Date Written: 19/04/2019
Year Published: 2019
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23634
A criticism of the PBS series on Reconstruction which presents slavery as a 'southern problem,' ignoring its ties to capital and class.
In a preview to the PBS series, viewers are promised the full truth of about this "misrepresented and misunderstood" chapter of American history. In my opinion, this pledge was not entirely kept. The program's viewers might be forgiven for gaining the impression that an "indifferent North" was a major factor in Reconstruction's total overthrow. That Northerners - without specifying their class identity - eventually "grew tired" of the South's seemingly intractable racial problems, withdrew Federal troops in 1877 and "tragically" allowed the South to restore white supremacy and re-subordinate the black labor force. For me, this serious glossing over what actually happened imposed limits on what lessons might be derived from Reconstruction and applied to our situation today....
The North and the South were not discrete economies as commodities and capital flowed between them. As such, narratives about Reconstruction that neglect to portray slavery as a national institution and refer to it as a "Southern problem" are limited in their explanatory power. Should we be surprised that the word "capitalism" isn't listed in the index to Gatess book and if memory serves, it also remained unmentioned in the series? Viewers might ponder the reason for this omission.