Last weekend ten teachers from around Colorado took part in a discussion about Reconstruction, led by Professor Scott Yenor of Boise State University. The three sessions and documents chosen for each helped participants focus on the justifications used by the South to account for secession fully understand the challenges that Lincoln and the country faced in trying to re-unite the country after the war.
Of particular interest during the discussion was the problem of self-government in the South: as a cornerstone of the American system, how could it be ensured if it meant that it would enable those states to undercut the goals of Reconstruction? Participants also unpacked and discussed in detail, through selected documents, the practical challenge of determining criteria for readmission to the Union for individuals and states, and the conciliatory tone struck by Lincoln’s original plans for Reconstruction.
Overall, we came away with a much greater appreciation for just how difficult was the challenge Lincoln faced in trying to win the war, and win it in a way that would enable him to rebuild the country – politically, economically, and socially.
To view a selection of readings discussed at this one-day seminar, please visit the links below –
Early Reconstruction and Union:
- Lincoln, Speech on the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise
- Lincoln, First Inaugural
- Lincoln, Message to Congress in Special Session, July 4, 1861
- Lincoln, Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861
Reconstruction During the War:
- Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation
- Lincoln, Letter to General N.P. Banks, August 5, 1863
- Lincoln, Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, December 8, 1863
Reconstruction at the End of the War: