Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875

Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875

Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875

Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875

Synopsis

"Butchart's work is a revisionist interpretation of the work of the secular and religious aid societies and the Freedmen's Bureau in educating free blacks.... A carefully researched, well-written, controversial book. Recommended." -Library Journal

Excerpt

Historians only recently have noticed that Reconstruction did not commence at the conclusion of the American Civil War or with the first congressional movement to deal with the defeated Confederacy. Reconstruction was initiated, haltingly and with contradictory methods, in the early days of war as the army, the federal government, and voluntary agencies came in contact with the human object of the war: the slave, the black American, the "contraband of war." By the same logic, Reconstruction did not end with the political compromise of 1877, but continued for many years, for the reconstruction of the South was more than the work of political parties and politicians. It was, in its most profound political dimensions, a struggle to establish the contours of postslavery southern society -- its mode of production, class structure and class relations, culture, ambience, and institutions.

The context for a reconstructed South was established by emancipation and northern victory; the content, however, was forged in the fires of conflict between the goals and aspirations of northern whites, blacks, planters, and poor whites, mediated by the power held by, and the alliances formed between, northern and southern elites. The society that emerged from the conflict was not the free-soil, free-labor society hoped for by many northerners, nor the prewar slavery sought by some southerners, nor the liberated, autonomous world demanded by Afro-Americans, but it was a fundamentally transformed milieu. A slave society became a capitalist society, albeit one with much of its working class in virtual peonage; slave owners became employers, merchants, and allies of northern industrial interests; slaves and white subsistence farmers became employees, a working class in the modern sense.

The schools established for the freedman during and after the Civil War were intended to assist in that transformation. This book analyzes the ideas of the northerners who organized freedmen's education, noting . . .

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