tv The Civil War CSPAN August 17, 2016 1:56pm-3:01pm EDT
perhaps the man who came closest than any other man in history to destroying the nation that was created in the american revolution? >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. next on american history tv, author and historian mark summers looks at the political battle surrounding reconstruction and how the era has been understood through history. mr. summers uses political cartoons, newspaper headlines, and individual anecdotes from the period to illustrate the main topics of debate and how many of the issues argue ready still relevant today. this hour long event was part of the annual summer symposium hosted by the gettysburg college, civil war institute. good evening. i'm peter carmichael, i am the director of the civil war
institute at gettysburg college, also a professor of history, also here at gettysburg. it is my pleasure to introduce mark summers. mark summers is the thomas d. clark professor of history at the university of kentucky where he teaches courses in 19th century u.s. history and political history. he is the author of numerous books including rum, romanticism and rebellion, the making of a president in 1884, as well as a dangerous stir, fear, paranoia and the making of reconstruction. this book was a groundbreaking monograph, one that examined the overlooked role of fear and emotions in reconstruction politics. most recently, dr. summers published this book, "the ordeal of reunion" and it is already sold out in our bookstore, just behind you. there will be more copies coming. this volume, which is part of the university of north carolina
little field series, it is, what i think, a volume that needs to stand alongside eric foner's classic reconstruction. it is that important of a book. mark summers, this evening, he has the task to frame the reconstruction era for us. he is going to raise the big questions of this period. and it is my pleasure to introduce professor summers. [ applause ] >> well, thank you very much, peter. and thank you very much allison for the great work you and the others have done to put this together. i need to note that all of you need to synchronize your watches. peter got his last applause at precisely 20 minutes to 7:00, so that at 20 minutes to 7:00, so at exactly 20 minutes to 8:00, someone raise their hand if i'm
still talking and we'll start applauding him again. i am uneasy, i have to say, up here on this podium. this raised podium, for several reasons. it has been a long time since i've been here. i usually like to thread my way through the crowd, waking people up, shaking them by the shoulder, or just simply yelling loudly in their ear if they have fallen asleep. and i can't do that. the other thing is being on stands like this make me very nervous because the last time i did it at teaching, i guess, in a big survey, i brought along my 2-year-old daughter ariel and got part way through the constitution before she ran up to me, grabbed me and shouted, daddy, stop talking. so don't any of you do that, okay. her interest in history has remained approximately the same, the last time we discussed it, when she asked me that question that i hope is harder to answer than any that you will ask, which was, dad, which came first, the reign of mara theresa or not.
with that point, let's see if we can get under way here and try to say what we can. and those of you who lose the track of what i'm saying, well, i hope the pictures will be fun. i want to throw out a few additional kind of warnings and comments of sorts. the splendid paper we had about honor in the civil war, i had a few things i might add to suggest there to think about, that had to do with it. very appropriate perhaps. one of them is if you ask a fair number of white southerners who voted for the republican party after the war, including confederate soldiers, people like general james les gowcorn, he would tell you, well, we were honor bound to accept the terms of the victor which we surrendered. that's part of the way it works. but it also ought to be said that this same kind of thing is the main method used by just
about any white southerner who supports the republican party. the first thing you do to destroy them is insist that they are crooks, thieves, people without honor. that means they might as well have target signs on them, they can be killed. their lives do not count. so that's where honor comes in. and third, last point of honor, when rutherford hayes ultimately decides to wash his hands of the last vestiges of a reconstruction government, in louisiana, and south carolina, one reason he does it is he believes the promises made to him by the redeemers coming into power there, that they will protect essential black rights. and why does he trust their promises? because the governors of louisiana and south carolina were confederate officers and a soldier's word is good.
so honor plays a part there in a heck of a lot of ways. all right, all right, so that's what we're going to start out with. we're going to start out with something else as well that might be pertinent, might not be pertinent. that is the pictures here. as you can see. it should be obvious, i like pictures a lot. i'm afraid this one comes off of the cigar box, but it is not bad from the 1890s of a suggestion that once the war is over, fellow citizens, again, nothing full reconciliation. and that's part of what today's story is. but i want to start the story before the war, and then after the war with a kind of a story of my own. this man right here, this person you see there is senator charles sumner of massachusetts, a remarkably ideological and fierce republican, a voice for equality and civil rights throughout his lifetime. a man of fierce and indominating
rhetoric, a magnificent rhetorician. he was asked, have you ever heard sumner converse and grant who had suffered it many times said wearily, but i have heard him lecture. that fits sumner pretty well. he was a person very difficult, it should be said, to get along with. and in fact, his commitment to equality was strong, vital before the war, it made him one of the great whipping boys of the white conservative south out there. egalitarianism of a terrifying sort. that ferocity on his part of rhetoric on the rest led in 1856 to him being caned down on the floor of the senate by a congressman from south carolina by the name of preston brooks. caned almost to the point that it killed him.
caned in fact to the point that it would be three years before he could return to the senate to continue to battle for equal rights. i bring him up crucially because in point of fact even during the war sumner is used as an example out there of everything evil and wrong about the northern response to the issue of slavery and equality. this is a pro confederate cartoon. the republican is being sacrificed as you can see here on the altar of, let's see, negro worship, spirit wrapping, free love, socialism, atheism, rationalism, and you can see there as one of the candle holders is, of course, charles sumner. so it should be perhaps not surprising that people were shocked in 1872 when sumner would support the democratic candidate for president, horace greeley, a man who had declared at one point that while it was true that not every democrat was
a horse thief, every horse thief was a democrat. how could you support a party so hostile to equal rights? you who withstood your entire life for freedom. and even more strange after the defeat of greeley, and his death that fall, charles sumner accused of being the most atrocious of egalitarians, this cartoon has quite clear there, charles sumner rose in the senate to offer one of the most controversial moves of his life. a man denounced during the campaign for trying to make the freed black shake hands across the bloody chasm of dead black citizens with the ku klux klan and the worst of southern racism would rise in the senate and, in fact, offer a shocking resolution.
a resolution that did not pass. i want you to look at this cartoon to see how it seemed that charles sumner had fallen so low. this is during the 1872 campaign and there is sumner, abnegating himself, on his knees, strewing roses on the grave of his assailant preston brooks. this may have been a hit with the public who liked to imagine that sumner had essentially deserted his principles, but sumner, who had no sense of humor, didn't understand it at all. he said what did preston brooks have to do with the attack on me? it was not mortal men. it was slavery itself that struck the blow. well, that kind of sense of the abstract may also be why in december when the congress opened, sumner offered a very controversial resolution. that resolution was to propose that all of the markings of american victories against the confederacy be stripped from the flags of the regiments of the united states.
now, remember, in those days when you won a victory, chancellors field, vicksburg, gettysburg, you discovered as a matter of fact these would be put on the banner of those regiments that had been there, and now sumner was calling for these to be removed, for as he argued keeping alive the memory of a civil war amongst the people is something barbarous. it should be said that sumner was on very good grounds, very good grounds. you look at the battle flags of great britain, and you find no kind of insignias of the battle of germantown, for example, or the battle of bunker hill or any of those kind of battles. because, in fact, the united states, before it became the united states, was seen as part of the british empire. you don't put on there insignias of a battle within a people.
and you can look at french battle flags and you will find there are any number of their victories against germany, if they had any, in the 1870s, but won't find volney, won't find von day, where you're fighting against other french in the revolution. you don't do that. but there was tremendous outrage. with the monuments at gettysburg, razed and taken to the ground, would be it forbidden for soldiers without a leg or arm to show themselves in public as it were a reminder of the war? would the splintered battle standard of the boston regiment that stood the boston state house be put away and concealed and under garb? in the state of massachusetts that stood by sumner for so long passed a resolution of censure against this man. what is going on here? why would he do something like this? has sumner deserted the cause? he has not deserted the cause. but he goes right to the heart of maybe how we ought to see
reconstruction. and that's what i'm going to try to explain today. my duty here pretty much is to give you a basic overview of reconstruction and how people see it. i'm going to try to do exactly that as best i can out there. for in fact reconstruction, the further after the war it went became more permeated with this vision of reconciliation, where all people who served on either side were in some sense equally upright, equally brave, equally moral, equally good. by 1913, you can have cartoons like this that show the re-enlistment, the dead rising to meet with their comrades again in the great war in the world beyond. and this sense of reconciliation was made greater because most people assumed that the south was new. that it had become something
different from what it had been before. a land of factories and water mills, a land of diversified agriculture and of relatively patronizing but harmless relationships between white and black. this vision permeates everything. and, in fact, this willingness to forget what the war and its aftermath were about is also helped on by an american racism that do no borders to no boundaries. all you do is look at these cartoons and a new york comic magazine, easter eggs, that's called, and look at the black stereotype as well as of course the jewish stereotype that you probably noticed there, and the -- and the like or the comical blacks at the bottom, this you'll find in just about every issue, something like that, it's there. so it should not surprise us then that what happens by the turn of the century is if you of reconstruction made by historians that in fact is very dark and very hostile to see it as a tremendous and disastrous mistake.
personal statement about this. somebody once said, i'm not sure who, probably insultingly, that there were two novels that could change a bookish 14-year-old's life forever. one was atlas shrub and the other is the lord of the rings. one leads to an emotionally stunted socially crippled adulthood unable to deal with the real world, the other, of course, involves orks. he left out -- he left out in fact another book, with unbelievable heroes and villains that engendered a life long obsession in this 14-year-old, for it is one of those blissful days when i was very convincingly pretending to be sick to get out of school, a technique i'll be glad to share with anybody needing excuses for missing faculty meetings or the like that i picked up and found i couldn't put down that
greatest and most widely read history of reconstruction, claude g. bowers' "the tragic era ." this book was first published in 1929. an indiana journalist narrative made tremendous drama of how turning away from mercy and the common sense of lincoln, a vengeful north led on by hypocrites and fanatics put the south to the torture and at the point of the bay net forced it to let black people share in politics and the rewards of their labor. we watch in there as congress puts the south at the mercy of black ignorant voters and white thieves out there. we gape as they steal everything not nailed down and open the street cars and even the hotels to the slaves of yesteryear. they would bankroll this revolution after lincoln to their own end until common sense, constitutionalism and originally of corruption aided by the great national liberation movement, the ku klux klan,
brought america home again. whose heart wouldn't beat for president andrew johnson being mobbed by self-proclaimed patriots? who wouldn't bridle at the black hearted, black bearded ruthless indiana's oliver p. morton, the delusional kid gloved narcissism of charles sumner and the like. he didn't convince me very long. i had the perfect anecdote in the remarkable cartoons, for in those days i dreamed of being a political cartoonist, where you don't need to compile an index for your work. but from that honored book i took increased devotion to that era to which so many figures in the civil war had given their last full measure of devotion. indeed, captivated by alan nevins' order of the union, i vowed some day to do for the post war era what he had had done for the dozen years leading up to the war and in my own four volumes, and did draw the pictures for it as well. this did not happen.
but it gives you an idea of ambition. now to those of us who have read bowers' tragic -- reaction like this must sound like midsummer madness, the kind of grip on unreality that either gets one certified or makes one take his forces into the peach orchard outside gettysburg. it is hard today to read even as overheated prose out there with any kind of sympathy. history isn't supposed to read like j.k. rowling or like barbara corcoran, but the style does for it what all the dole monographs simply couldn't, create this demon theory of reconstruction. until the magnificent book about it, this was by far the most widely read history in the period. even today, it may take -- it may be the take that most nonhistorians have unjust what happened after the civil war. there is not much question about that. and bowers didn't just ignore any source that didn't fit his
way, he twisted them, authored them, reshaped them and distorted them. now, it is not fair to fault middle school minds like mine, the middle ground middle americans for bowers' success. it is how universal the praise was. at least among white scholars. men of good hope and liberal values like henry steel honored it as truth rising if not from her well, then at least from the democratic party and the country's most progressive paper, which bowers actually belonged to, just as alan nevins had. and the assumptions of bowers, that republicans were a wealth driven group and businessman supporting the best government their money could buy, it had to be true. you could argue the way and the character in an old comic strip did as a matter of fact that
history is like a mixed drink, if you don't like it the way it is, you keep adding things until you get it the way you want. most americans treated it that way. in diagnosing what needs to be done in the present and only natural that historians should feel tempted to do that too. with the times in which they live, shaping what they find most important. so for those to whom racial equality seemed an outlandish notion, those who tried to further it looked like don quixote. really only the former confederate gentlemen of property and standing. for those to whom racial equality seemed very much beside the point and in an age of drought and depression, like the 30s, mass unemployment and social stability, in fact, reconstruction even turned into an irrelevance after bowers time.
the prairies, that's what people cared about in history. and so you can look, for example, that you can have a movie called the plainsman, gary cooper, gene arthur, maybe you've seen it, maybe not, 1937, a lot of fun. really bad history with a lot of fun, where we have the beginning with abraham lincoln, with the war over, informing his cabinet of the great unfinished task before them, and that was civilizing the west. in point of fact, that also meant what we could describe as wiping out the indians that were crowding up that land. and if any of you seen the movie you know how the scene ends with mrs. lincoln interrupting her husband to remind him that they have theater tickets that evening and on the president's exit, a cabinet member saying with dramatic irony, i've never seen him looking so well. as is second world war approached, reconstruction began to be more debatable ground, largely due to the challenges
from a number of black historians like w.e. du bois and second thoughts of white ones. and you know it becomes harder to fight an enemy who defines nationhood by race, to feel quite the same way about bowers' villains, their faces clearly turned zionward and as they were entitled to an endless ream of historians get out of jail free cards. by the 1940s, the whole take on reconstruction is beginning to end. and by the 1960s, a new orthodox was taking its place out there. reconstruction is now seen differently as the first civil rights revolution. as a lost opportunity. by the 1970s, scholarship had put to use sources not just those collected or produced by forgotten somebodies dedicated to the proposition that all senators were created equal, but to that earlier generation of historians treated as largely
voiceless, the untitled and sometimes unpropertied mass of americans, blacks, women, the homesteaders, and school teachers and sharecroppers. the real tragedy, as eric foner would argue, came from how far we fell in reconstruction from the uncompleted promise of today. it was as eric foner would describe reconstruction an unfinished revolution. now, keep in mind that term unfinished. not a thwarted revolution, folks. not an abortive revolution, not even a half won revolution as john milton spoke of the half one, turning back too soon and lost to him forever. unfinished, as if this is in some sense a continuous process, leading up to and in many ways enlightening the present day. in that term, foner and others have presage not just the reconstruction generation
future, but perhaps our own, the great unfinished task remaining before us. now, i suppose when it comes down to it, it is progress that this has changed even in terms of culture. i suppose it is progress that, for example, we no longer have movies glorifying the ku klux klan, such as birth of a nation would do, where they ride to the rescue of white southern womanhood with crosses in their hands, and execute those guilty of rape or attempted rape. i think it is very much progress, in fact, that those people, the great masses who were most affected by this reconstruction at last have a voice. and their story is important. it is vital to see these figures. not great people, not elected people, but the people, in fact, whose lives socially were dramatically so completely changed.
we need to see it, in fact, in all of its tremendous power. we need to see, for example, the notices and the paper of former slave men and women advertising the wife, the child, the husband, the parents, that had been sold away from them, people that no law had made into wife or husband, but who in the eyes of god they saw as joint to get them forever. some would find them and some would not. we need to see, as foner does, the story of reconstruction as the making of black institutions, of churches, and of schools and society. it seems to me a tremendous progress that in movies, the whole stereotype of reconstructionist change, how many of you have seen the movie "lincoln"? how many, okay. good for you. very good. my rule is i never trust a movie younger than myself, but for the
lincoln movie i make an exception if i can. i think it is progress that thaddeus stevens in that movie, the fellow you see there in his chestnut colored wig, is not being played by lionel barrymore as a warped frustrated old man in a wheelchair as he was in the 1942 movie, a kind of post war mr. potter. though i confess a lot of me wishes keenly that the 1942 movie he had been able to induce andrew johnson to jump off a bridge or that a guardian angel in the form of frederick douglas would have appeared to teach johnson his ways. tommy lee jones is a great step forward. i agree on that. even with his avuncular style closely resembling that of douglas mcarthur in a movie released in the same year and even though he takes a central role than the real stevens would have claimed for himself. but radical sheikh or radical republican sheikh has the same drawback as the predecessor, it meets out merit and blame based
on what we have become, not on what americans saw in the context of what they had experienced. and in fact it seems to me that there are problems with that. the problems are not that i oppose what reconstruction was, the site of thousands and thousands of former slaves able to vote, to hold office, to sit on juries, to be judges, to be state senators. the vision of one of them sitting in the senate seat that had belonged to jefferson davis, it didn't, but that in fact is what the cartoonists seem to see this is a monumental and powerful story. the existence of two black senators of the united states who we see there between frederick douglas, let us honor, let us praise this fact and let us not kid ourselves. this reconstruction was not undone by its corruption.
it was not undone by its incompetence. it was undone by terrorism, a kind of terrorism you would be familiar with today. if you have any sympathy for the post war klan, you must love isis. the fact of the matter is they will attack anyone and the more harmless the better. you don't go after somebody on the public street. you call them out of their house, out in the woods, at midnight, 50 of you to 1, to lash them, to beat them, to kill them, or to castrate them. that is how the south was redeemed. and we better see and recognize that. you talk about the 55,000 casualties in three days of gettysburg. i will tell you that it is easy to imagine many more than 55,000 casualties in this second american revolution. and these honored dead would not be honored, nor would the north take increased devotion from them.
they would instead be dishonored, having been beaten, having been threatened, having been killed, the conservative press would then go to libel their careers and their lives with every dirty lie they could find to show that these were dishonorable people, unfit to live on any terms political or otherwise. that is the story of the klan. that is the story of the redemption of the south. that is nothing to be heroic about, that is nothing to cheer. and in much of the south, it is close to revolution, and we had better see that. it is not just against voters, it is against their wives, their daughters, their mothers, their children, their schools, their churches. that is the fact. we had better see that, we had better recognize it. look at this cartoon. this is based on an actual headline. black voter killed in richmond, headline in the richmond wig, one vote less. nice. isn't it? let us not think that redemption
is worse than slavery. these people are not returned to slaves, their children, their wives, husbands cannot be sold from them. but the fact of the matter is the story is one of great and terrible and bitter tragedy. and if in this cartoon a democratic presidential candidate shows what reform means with 6 to 7 blacks reformed at hamburg by white leagues and white militia, it is a cruel cut, but it is valid right there. this reconstruction out there is a reconstruction not that fails of its own accord, but one that finds itself beleaguered and beaten and a national government with all of its power has not the force to break it, not the force to beat it. so what can i tell you that is new that foner hasn't told you? i think foner is the best history of reconstruction around. i say that right now. i am not his equal.
nor do i intend to be his equal. the fact of the matter is it is very good indeed and everybody should read his reconstruction. of course you should buy my book as well, but you should read his reconstruction. i have a different kind of message. what if you in fact look at reconstruction not from the perspective of the present, but in fact the perspective of the past? did you folks know that the term reconstruction to talk about the remaking of the country actually began to appear in the newspapers before the first shots of the civil war were fired? absolutely true. all during that secession wind there is talk about how you reconstruct the union, how you bring it together. and there were all kinds of plans for this, if you allow the border states not to go out of the union, that ultimately the deep south states will choose to treat and come back in, eventually, if you create several confederacies, deep
south confederacy, ohio valley confederacy, probably won, one would assume, by kentucky through the, these can merge forth some day. this vision of reconstruction is a constantly changing one. and that is really where i would suggest we could look at reconstruction differently. we can look at it, in fact, not simply as the reconstruction of the south in terms of race, but the reconstruction of the union, the reconstruction of the nation, the concentration on issues of equality and civil rights is long overdue and it is good. but it is not the only theme that defines reconstruction. look at this cartoon. this is close to the end of the war. how could people feel more bitter than after the murders and deaths and slaughter at fort pillow, at cold harbor, at vicksburg, fort wagner. here is lincoln inviting
jefferson davis and robert e. lee and the confederate states back to the table of the union. we look at it right there, and it is clear this vision of a reunited country has deep resonance with the very cartoonist who will be defending black civil rights, the vision of the prodigal son returning to the fold, the vision, in fact, of all people being able to toast the cause again as we can see it. now the terms of peace are clear, they are submission, an unconditional surrender, not a give and take, not a negotiated settlement out there. but the terms are those of welcome, and those terms are critical to understand. if anyone deserved to be hanged as a war criminal, to be hanged as a traitor, it should have been that man lodged in fortress monroe, confederate president
jefferson davis, for the waging of war around the united states is quite specifically what the treason clause is all about. and yet two years after the end of the war, jefferson davis walks free, never to find himself in prison again. and the bail money was raised by among others northerners like the editor of the new york tribune, a voice for equal rights themselves. there is an impulse there to bring us together, and that impulse is crucial. an impulse that allows jefferson davis to live free, to give speeches of how right he was for the end of his days, and impulse out there that allows alexander stevens to become a congressman and later to become a governor of the state of georgia, again, free of all penalties or inconvenience. a reconciliation out there that makes a 14th amendment, that denies the vote to nobody, no southern confederate is denied the right to vote. a small number are denied the
right to hold office again until congress removes their disabilities and most of them will have those disabilities removed within a decade. we better see that. we better understand this world. we better understand this society. it is why a man like wade hampton, a confederate general, can end up being a governor and then a senator. from the state of south carolina. it is why a confederate senator like lucius lamar of mississippi can end up on the united states supreme court. why it is that the republicans didn't try to block his nomination i leave to your imagination. the fact of the matter is that is the reality out there. and already this process is going on with a few months of the war as the pardons by the thousands are issued by the president in washington, to just about anyone who asks of them. that pardoning process may have
alarmed much of the north, but there was no attempt to try to alter it as well. and if in 1868 the republican party can take on the democratic candidate for president, who is, i might add, the most remarkable candidate in the world, when he said he didn't want the job, they meant it, they had to kidnap him from the convention. seymour may be seen as a devil out there, tempting the confederate, and there is columbia and columbia saying lead us not into temptation, but look closely at this picture of this devil out here and look at columbia. the former confederate isn't seen as a villain. he's seen as a person that can be transformed either way back towards civil war and violence or toward peace and prosperity with everyone else. let us remember that vision, for that vision out there is critical to understanding, not only why reconstruction turned out the way it did, but why in
the end the north finally decided that it can go no further to enforce black rights against the will of so many people in the white south. ultimately you want to have one country again. you can talk about northern racism and it is there. you can talk about, in fact, democrats would never reconcile to equal rights and it's there. but the simple fact of the matter is, americans wanted to get back to a nation, a united nation under the constitution amended, but that they had known. you got an alternative by 1876. your alternative is you can assume and hope that over time black rights will be restored and regained and that you have gained enough as it is and let white southerners choose their
own timetable and hope for the best, blindly and wrongly, but hope it. or you can decide that for all time to come, you're going to do the same thing, every time the republicans who have a majority of the votes in the south get in trouble, you will send the united states army down there to enforce it and see that the republicans win. how long are you going to have a constitution and a free government with something like that? with southern states, always slightly unequal, always eligible to be -- it is a crucial issue. it is a hard issue. i do not say republicans made the right decision. i do not say that what happened in the end was not a bloody and terrible and wrong result in many ways. i do not deny this fact. it is a simple fact. if in fact you can have a
situation where the democratic party will have in the newspaper the statement it is the moral duty of democrats to cheat republicans and populists out of their vote any way we can, rob them, you bet. what are we here for? that's not a situation you want. but the fact is, what is the alternative? and the truth is the issue of union matters. and finally, let us not assume that reconstruction failed in every sense. it did save and make permanent the union. the black schools may have been truncated, but they did not vanish. the black rights to own themselves did not vanish. the right to testify in court was not removed, the right to own property, the right to have legal marriage, these were not removed. and something has changed dramatically. if democrats, the great party of white supremacy, in state after
state in the north, when the great civil rights bill charles sumner's bill ending segregation in public facilities is overturned by the supreme court, state after state in the democratic northern states, the governor will go to the legislature and say these rights have to be protected for our black citizens. the right to be buried in any kind of cemetery, the right to go to school with white people, the right, in fact, to hold property, the right to go to hotels or to restaurants, we need a state law to do it. and those state laws passed. this reconstruction is not as much of a victory as it might have been, but it is a dramatic victory nonetheless and you can see its markers in the schools out there, you can see its markers out there in the creation of black newspapers in new orleans and elsewhere, some of which would end up lasting, you can see it in so many different ways. but ultimately the issue out
there is an issue that needs to be understood. to see reconstruction not simply from our perspective, but from the perspective of people that had gone through this great and terrible war, and who did not want a big army because big armies turn you into prussia, they turn into france, they're the tools of would be tyrants and napoleons. i think all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't have saved the governments of the south. i do not think it could have happened. so when reconstruction comes to an end, in dismay, disorder, disputed election, maybe the striking thing is that in that disputed election there would be no civil war, no renewed conflict, and confederates would be the first to declare that even though their candidate was beaten, it would not be like
1860. it would not be like the election of lincoln, they would not rise in arms to make themselves be in power or to go out of the union. the virus of secession was gone and for good. so we come back not just to that image of reconciliation and value, not just of the vision of the handshake between blue and gray, 50 years after gettysburg out there, in point of fact, we have to ask what happened to the ideal of liberty, and that brings us right back not just to the handshake and the promise of liberty as we see there, but to charles sumner, for on the same day that charles sumner offered his resolution to expunge the names of battles from union battles grounds, charles sumner also rose with a civil rights bill to end discrimination on street cars and in railroad lines, in schools and in cemeteries, in hotels and in restaurants and in opera houses
and in playhouses throughout american life. two years later, the legislature of massachusetts understanding finally sumner's idealism and realizing what a cherished value he was and knowing he was an ailing man rescinded the vote of censure. the resolution was read in the senate on march 9th, 1874, sumner was there to hear it when his colleague did it. later in that afternoon, he complained of what he described as a toothache in his heart and headed home early. this night he was struck down on the floor of his library by a massive heart attack. he was a dying man, everyone knew it. the next day, people came to pay their last respects, his funeral the biggest since the death of lincoln. but sumner had the same plea, my bill of, my civil rights bill, don't let it fail. reconciliation and civil rights were not incompatible. they were reconcilable with each
other. in fact, you could not have a true reconciliation without those civil rights, that, in fact, was sumner's warning, a warning not heeded. and for those who wonder about keeping alive the memory of the civil war, one last epilogue that goes back to sumner, you see sumner's resolution was not the first time he did it, in 1865, when the question came of paintings for the united states capital, while the war was on, sumner offered a resolution that no painting in the capital commemorate this war. that there be no reminder in our capital that americans had ever fought against each other. and this was the man even then fighting and battling for an end of slavery, fighting and battling for the right of black people everywhere to vote. what he proposed instead is there be instead a civil war painting that commemorated america's advance toward
equality. four years after his death, that painting, the painting by carpenter of the emancipation proclamation being read to lincoln's cabinet would be put in the capital and dedicated to the cause, to the cause of freedom, and to the cause of both reunion and of equal rights. what i say right here is in fact we have to remember then not simply to look at the past for messages about the present, but to remember it in many ways as they saw it, and to remember something else that you will find over the next several days. and that something else is pretty critical. the story of reconstruction did not end with foner. and it sure as heck didn't end with me. or anybody else. it can be constantly reread and recalibrated with new things to say.
you can look, for example, that reconstruction in the north and you will. you can look at reconstruction as it affected out west and it did. you can look at how it took the blood and fire out of the manifest destiny that made us want to swallow the entire caribbean, as, in fact, was the case. i tell you, in fact, my best lesson on this is that reconstruction, the questions of reconstruction are never fully answered, new ones will constantly be offered. in fact, when it comes to that, no library of reconstruction survey can match the tremendous unbibliography of books not yet written and deserving notice. as calvin and hobs would have said, there is treasure everywhere. thanks very much. [ applause ]
>> all right, so i guess, folks, if they want to ask questions can ask questions, but you have to get to the mike. so do i, in order to be able to do that properly, i suspect. so let's see what we can do, if anyone wants to come up and ask anything, one kind or another, preferably not about which came first, the reign of maria teresa or not. >> my name is steve from evanston, illinois. here is my -- the picture you lay out of could we have had union soldiers in the south indefinitely is a very, i don't know how to say it, a static image that assumes the present situation would continue forever. but rather what if we had just done -- used those soldiers -- i believe if we had done that for first five or eight years after
the war and had protected black elected officials and created a civil society, i mean, we're talking about nation building. but there was no infrastructure. had there been black sheriffs, black local officials, they couldn't have waged that terror as easily without -- wouldn't necessarily have required union soldiers the entire time. >> well, the answer to that is as a matter of fact they did use troops over and over for the first ten years of reconstruction and there were lots of black officials. the fact of the matter is there were even black militia in the southern state militia out there. but you can't cope with the guns that are in the hands of white folks and the fact of the matter is you're not dealing with a fight in the open field, it ain't no gettysburg and you ain't got no little round top out there. what you got out there is individual people out on the edge of the sharecroppers on the edge of the plantation and they're alone and they're going to be visited at midnight by
about 30 or 40 masked people. you will find no jury, no sheriff that is going to convict him. it is not going to happen. the law enforcement officials are powerless. and the united states government could have sent down troops, but in fact it did, and once the troops go away, the same kind of attrition and dripping down happens. and by 1875, the north doesn't want to see this go on any further because they really see a america where the army is going to play a real role in the, well, we call it the nation building out there, and so on, and it frightens them. and it is no closer to an end in '76. if anything, it has gone worse. some people think that, you know, it could have saved itself. i don't -- i really am very, very grim about that. i've got a very nice colleague and friend named michael fitzgerald, one of the best people in reconstruction. he thinks if the prosperity of the early 1870s had gone on, reconstruction might have had an
but the moment there is a panic and depression and everybody is mad and everybody is paying taxes and a lot of people lost their jobs and they want a scapegoat, it is over. i think it is over by the end of 1868. i think the message by the end of 1868 is there isn't an army big enough to protect every and that means you can keep on killing, congressmen, state representatives, local leaders, and it happens again and again. i wish i could say that the army would have made a difference, and a lot of them out there on the frontier, i just don't think it happens. i don't think it could. i'm afraid i'm much more grim about this than anybody else. but thanks for the question. it is a valid one to ask. good one. all right. anybody else? anybody over there? fire away. >> john dubic, wilkes-barre, pennsylvania.
you talked about a number of blacks being killed. has anyone crunched figures for the number of freed blacks and white republicans killed in that period between 1865 and, say, 1877? >> nobody has made an estimate on the number out there. i can tell you that in georgia in 1868 the freedomists tried to make a list of blacks attacked or killed just in the state of georgia in 11 months and it came to over 500. the guesses are at least maybe 2500 killed in louisiana that year. in texas, it was worse. remember, what general phil sheridan said, if you have a choice between living in texas or hell, he would live in hell and rent out texas. gills vandow did an article some years ago taking certain counties in upstate louisiana and his calculation was that of black males between 18 and 64, the number killed is about 20%.
so that will give you some kind of inkling. it is not a small number. not a small number. yeah. fire away. >> hi, melissa williams. i'm an teacher in central valley academy in new york. i have a question. you -- which was something i had never heard of about sumner wanting to sort of erase all glorification of the war. what is your opinion, because this is an issue that is going on today with removing anything that has to do with the confederacy, just your opinion and thoughts on it. >> that's a very fine question and tricky one. i'll irritate and exasperate everyone. in my town, they're trying to remove the statue. i think it is punishment enough he's riding a horse of the wrong gender because the statuemaker got it wrong. i don't approve of doing that. i think there should be statues to people that, yeah, new
england yankees like me are ashamed of just to remind us about this kind of stuff. i think the most obscene thing i can think of has to do with calhoun college, one of the residential colleges at yale, used to be a little stained glass window there of john c. calhoun, in the 1990s, this removed that enslaved black so he's now just standing there with the constitution. i would have had to have it with the entire thing to show what the principles meant. i think that ought to be there. when it comes to the erasing of things, let me offer a caution, sumner was not saying get rid of all memories of the war. he wasn't saying that the tokens on state banners should be removed. and he wasn't saying that battle monuments should be removed. he was saying in the united states regiments not the first massachusetts infantry, not the 49th new york infantry, but in the united states regiments, collected from all of the
states, these regiments and there may have been maybe seven of them, should have these removed and the reason has to do with, you guessed it, honor. the argument is very simple. how can any southerner in the future, any white southerner in the future, serve in a regiment under a banner that celebrates victories over him and his people? let confederate states have what they want. let union states have whatever banners they want, let there be monuments everywhere, but the united states itself should not be committed to this. that's kind of the message. i don't have to tell you i think sumner was absolutely right and one of the leading abolitionists of this time, wendell philips, also thought that he was right. he was a believer in equal rights beyond anything one could ask for. he said this is something you simply don't do to commemorate. does that answer the question? >> thank you very much. >> my pleasure. okay. fire away.
>> chamber chamber land from atlanta. >> cool. >> you mentioned earlier nation building and so my question is more or less to what degree would you put reconstruction on the same level of nation building as, say, the current events in saudi arabia -- sorry, afghanistan and iraq? >> that's a fair -- >> -- nation building always failing. >> well, yeah, but it is failing for -- maybe for slightly different reasons. i'm not sure it is quite the same. trouble is, you know, history doesn't repeat itself really. in many ways it is like a corkscrew, twisting through and coming in a different place all the time. i get worried about current events. historian, colonial historian i had in college was once asked how in fact, you know, theodore roosevelt's policies differed from those of benjamin franklin, thomas jefferson -- i don't know.
anything after the 1900s is current events to me. i'm cautious about that. nation building in the south is kind of different. number one, you got a long standard tradition of at least on the face of it democratic institutions. and you're not trying to create new democratic institutions. you are widening out the vote. that's one. second thing out there is you've got an awful lot of southerners, perhaps a majority of them, if you count white and black, who are in favor of precisely this kind of nation building. you may have read the new york times, two or three days ago, new movie coming out about a confederate dissident through the in mississippi, a so-called scallywag out there. my wife's response was, wow, i didn't know any southerners were -- supported reconstruction. well, let me tell you, about 40,000 of them in the state of north carolina, probably more than that in tennessee, tens of thousands in arkansas. union people and people who to
-- for many reasons wanted to see a new and better and different south. and as for black people, african-americans, male and female, they're unanimous in that regard. remember, in south carolina, you may not know it, you probably do know, south carolina won the civil war, you do know that, right? it is true. but in a different way than you think. because your typical south carolinian in 1865 is black and a slave. three out of every five people in south carolina is black. in point of fact, equal rights is a victory for south carolina. and in point of fact in just about every state out there are constituencies like that, maybe a black majority in louisiana, maybe in mississippi as well. so the story out there in many ways is democracy is something that really means letting the people rule, you got a much bigger number of active nation builders or state builders than i think we're facing over there.
but, again, that's current events. what do i know about current events? it is something where i could say all kinds of dribbling and crazy things and then you think i was running for president. okay. what else? [ applause ] i accept your nomination. if i ran, i would run as the head of the futilitarian party. which means that anything that happens won't turn out the way you expect it to. okay. next question, if any. >> i'm ross, with the thaddeus stevens society. >> cool. >> i appreciate your enthusiasm in this lecture. and i noticed early on you had a picture of the great commoner with darth vader. >> i did. >> which i guess you were meant to. can you expand upon that image and also maybe talk about what at least i see as a propaganda effort against him up through the 1960s and whether or not you think there is hope for
resurrecting him as one of our great heroes. >> that's a very good question. and in fact you all know, of course, that stevens street down there is named after thaddeus stevens. >> he also helped found this college too. >> who also helped found this college. the only great person ever to come out of lancaster, pennsylvania, in the 19th century, i might add that's where james buchanan also lived, it could be said. as i have said often about james buchanan to my class, he declared if he came back in another life he would like to come back as a frog sitting in a quiet mill pond where nothing happens. where nothing happened, which shows he doesn't understand transmigration because you have to be good in this life to come back as a higher form of being. sorry i had to insult him somewhere. out there, thaddeus stevens, you'll notice i brought him in twice.
the first time with darth vader. the second time as the knight fighting the dragon out there. the good guys, the bad guys. i take the good guys vision of him. thaddeus stevens because of his belief in equality, because of having a non-white housekeeper, lydia smith, who was reputed to be his mistress by democratic slanderers and the like, was seen as the epitome of evil, all the way up through the dunning school and beyond. a vicious, ferocious fanatic fueled with hatred and resentment. let me tell you several basic facts. thaddeus stevens, well before slavery became an issue on which pennsylvanians cared at all, at least in terms of the slaves, was taking no fee. if i'm not mistaken, in the 1838 constitutional convention, when pennsylvania decided to take the right of voting away from blacks, who until then had had that right, it was only one member who refused to sign that constitution, and that was
thaddeus stevens. the father of the public school system of pennsylvania, the great voice for equality, the great commoner. he is a man that deserves great credit and great honor. and i don't have to tell you, as well, that thaddeus stevens, when he died in 1868, would tell a reporter, the great pity of my life is i have lived so long and so uselessly. for he believed even then that reconstruction would not be able to survive, that the commitment was not there. and when this man died, he would have himself buried in the black church yard, and there on his gravestone, you can see some words pretty close to the following. i reside here in this quiet spot, not from a desire for seclusion but finding that every other cemetery makes a bar on the basis of race, have determined in death to be as i was in life, to speak for my
great belief, the equality of man before his creator. that is thaddeus stevens. [ applause ] american history tv airs on c-span3 every weekend, telling the american story through events, interviews, and visits to historic locations. this month, american history tv is in primetime to introduce you to programs you could see every weekend on c-span3. our features include lectures in history, visits to college classrooms across the country to hear lectures by top history professors. american artifacts takes a look at the treasures at u.s. historic sites, museums, and archives. reel america, revealing the 20th century through archival films and news reels. the civil war, where you hear about the people who shaped the civil war. and the presidency focuses on
u.s. presidents and first ladies to learn about their politics, policies, and legacies. all this month in primetime and every weekend on american history tv on c-span3. coming up on this special edition of american history tv, while congress is on break, a look at how the end of the civil war was redefined after the war. then, a look at the confederate defeat and the impact on southern honor. that's followed by the emancipation of slaves during the war as shown through photographs from the time. thursday on american history tv primetime, the 40th anniversary of the national air and space museum. the celebration took place in july with the current museum director, retired general jack dailey, and a look at exhibits on the start of aviation and
into space exploration. it begins tomorrow night at 8:00 eastern. >> the civil war institute at gettysburg institute in pennsylvania recently hosted a conference on reconstruction and the legacy of the civil war. next, a pam of historians talked about how southerners created their own narratives during reconstruction to explain why the civil war was fought and lost. their talk is about an hour. all right. good evening. i'm peter carmichael. i am a professor of history at gettysburg college and also the director of the civil war institute. it's my pleasure this evening to be moderator and panelist for this session on the anatomy of a lost cause. joining me, to my immediate right is keith bohannon.