Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 by W. E. B. Du Bois. New York. 1938. Harcourt Brace & Company. 746 pages. March 1938.


black reconstruction in america harcourt brace 1938 no dwFROM THE PUBLISHER -


   A distinguished scholar introduces the pioneering work in the study of the role of black Americans during the Reconstruction by the most gifted and influential black intellectual of his time. BLACK RECONSTRUCTION IN AMERICA is a book by W. E. B. Du Bois, first published in 1935. It is revisionist approach to looking at the Reconstruction of the south after its defeat in the American civil war. On the whole, the book takes a Marxist approach to looking at reconstruction. The essential argument of the text is that the Black and White laborers, who are the proletariat, were divided after the civil war on the lines of race, and as such were unable to stand together against the white propertied class, the bourgeoisie. This to Du Bois was the failure of reconstruction and the reason for the rise of the Jim Crow laws, and other such injustices. In addition to creating a landmark work in early U.S. Marxist sociology, at the time Dubois’ historical scholarship and use of the techniques of primary source data research on the post war political economy of the former Confederate States’ were equally ground breaking. He performed the first systematic and rigorous analysis of the political economy of the reconstruction period of the southern states; based upon actual data collected during period. This research completely disestablished the anecdotal, racist bromides which had come to form the basis of the so-called ‘scholarship’ of the reconstruction period. Dubois’ research discredited forever the notion that the post-emancipation and post-Appomattox south had degenerated into either economic or political chaos, and had been kept in a state of chaos by the armed forces of the Union, through their military occupation. On the contrary, the reconstruction state governments had for example, established their states’ first, universal primary education systems. They did this because the reconstruction state constitutions (which they had written) had, for the first time, established as a right, the free public primary schooling of their states’ children. These governments had also been the first to establish public health departments to promote public health and sanitation, and to combat the spread of epidemic disease that is inherent in the semi-tropical climate of the south. And when the redeemer government’s seized power in later years and re-wrote these states’ constitutions to reestablish ‘race law’ and the Jim-Crow system, they did not touch the education and public health and welfare laws and constitutional principles that the reconstruction governments had established.



Du Bois W E BW. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was internationally renowned as a writer, scholar, and activist. Among his published works are THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLKS, JOHN BROWN, and BLACK RECONSTRUCTION: AN ESSAY TOWARD A HISTORY OF THE PART WHICH BLACK FOLK PLAYED IN THE ATTEMPT TO RECONSTRUCT DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, 1860—1880. He also wrote other major fiction, including DARK PRINCESS.








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