Schools of reconstruction after the Civil War

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Both Lincoln and Johnson had foreseen that the Congress would have the right to deny Southern legislators seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, under the Constitution. This came to pass when, under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, those congressmen, also known as radical republicans, who sought to punish the South refused to seat its elected senators and representatives. Then, within the next few months, the Congress proceeded to work out a plan for the reconstruction of the South quite different from the one Lincoln had started and Johnson had continued. Wide public support gradually developed for those members of Congress who believed that blacks should be given full citizenship. By July 1866, Congress had passed a civil rights bill and set up a new Freedmen's Bureau -- both designed to prevent racial discrimination by Southern legislatures.

There were five major schools of reconstruction that emerged after the Civil War.

The first of which was known as the Dunning school. The Dunning School was from 1900 to 1960 a dominant school of historiography regarding the Reconstruction period in American history, 1865-1877. It was named after Columbia University professor William Dunning, whose seminar trained many of the leading historians. In a series of state-by-state monographs, as well as large-scale histories, Dunning School historians argued that Reconstruction was badly handled after the Radical Republicans won the 1866 elections. They generally agreed with the policies of Abraham Lincoln and especially Andrew Johnson, and sharply condemned Ulysses Grant as corrupt. They saw the Carpetbaggers and Scalawags as corrupt, and believed the Freedmen were unready for full participation in politics. Worst of all, they said, the exclusion of ex-Confederates was a terrible mistake. The Dunning school was the most radical of the five schools and was also racist.

During the 1920's...