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Ashford 2: – Week 1 – Discussion 1

The History of Reconstruction


 Background: Many Americans like to imagine the history of their nation   as one of continual progress. While acknowledging that not all persons and   groups enjoyed equal rights at all times, Americans often take it for granted   that American history moves in only one direction: toward greater rights,   greater freedom, and greater equality. This perspective makes it difficult   for many Americans to understand the Reconstruction period and to place it in   a broader historical narrative. The problem they face is that African Americans   from roughly 1867 to 1875 enjoyed far more political influence and equal   rights than they ever had before, or ever would again until the end of the   modern Civil Rights Movement almost a century later. The fact that a group   could be stripped of rights it once enjoyed is difficult for many Americans   to accept, and so they often retreat into a false narrative, in which African   Americans never gained any rights at all, and were abandoned to their fate as   soon as slavery ended. In this model, the infamous Black Codes—which were in   effect for less than a year—take center stage, and the various gains of   Reconstruction get ignored.

Resources: Review the following resources about the differences   between primary and secondary sources: 

  1. BeamLibrary. (2009, September        23).  Primary,        secondary, tertiary sources .        [Video file]. Retrieved from 
  2. Sections 8.1 and 8.2 of the        Ashford Writing Center, located in the left navigation menu.

When responding to the questions,   draw from at least ONE of the following primary sources and   specifically cite them in your post:

  1. Bruce, B. K. (1876, March        31).  Speech in the        Senate. Retrieved from         
  2. Johnson, J. R. (1865, Aug.        4).  Northern teacher        to the Freedmen’s Bureau commissioner.  Land and Labor, 1865, pp.        699-700. Retrieved from 
  3. The Ku-Klux.  (1871, April 1).        Harper’s Weekly, p. 281. Retrieved from 
  4. United States Congress.        (1866, April 9).  Civil Rights Act.  Retrieved from        

Also, draw from the material in ONE of the following   films:

  1. Kunhardt, P., Kunhardt, P.,        III, and Steiner, N. (Producers). (2002).  What is freedom?.  [Series Episode]        from P. Kinhardt & S. Sheppard (Executive Producers) Freedom: A        History of US. United States: PBS. Retrieved from        
  2. Pollard, S. (Producer &        Director). (2012). Slavery by another name.  [Documentary].        United States: Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. Retrieved from 

Instructions:  After   reviewing your Instructor’s Guidance and completing the weekly reading   assignments (including those in the resource section below), please post a   substantive discussion post of at least 200 words that analyzes the period of   Reconstruction using the following questions as the basis of your analysis: 

  • Were the goals of Radical        Reconstruction feasible ones?  
  • Is it possible to transform a        society drastically by government action, or might attempts to do so        prove counterproductive?  
  • Would a more gradualist        approach to extending rights to and establishing freedom for African        Americans have been more successful? 
  • What would be the costs and        dangers of such an approach? 

Your initial post should be no   fewer than 200 words in length, which does not include works cited or the   questions being answered. It should address all of the components of the   question in a way that demonstrates independent, critical thought and command   of the required material. It should not merely repeat the material in the   textbook or other sources, but should use that material as the basis for an   idiosyncratic interpretation of the topic. All sources need to be cited using   proper APA format. If you borrow wording from a source, the wording   absolutely must be marked as a quotation. 

In addition to your initial post,   you should respond substantially, in posts of no fewer than 100 words, to at   least two classmates and contribute to their analysis of the topic. When   responding to classmates, you should refer to the material from one of the   sources which you did not reference in your initial post. Identify important   points which they may have missed which either support or challenge their   interpretation. Explain how their views have made you rethink your own   conclusions or offer perspectives which might help them regard the topic in a   different way. Feel free to ask probing questions of your classmates, but, if   you do, offer your own interpretation. That is, don’t just respond, “What do   you think of X, Y, and Z?” Instead, respond, “What do you think of X?  I   think W because of V, U, and T. On the other hand some might point to S and   R.” In short, the ideal response to a classmate would involve you encouraging   a classmate to see things from a new perspective, even as you clarify and   develop your own thoughts as well.

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