Reconstruction A Failure Essays
Du Bois' extensive use of data and primary source material on the postwar political economy of the former Confederate States is notable, as is the literary style of this 750-page essay.He notes major achievements, such as establishing public education in the South for the first time, the founding of charitable institutions to care for all citizens, the extension of the vote to the landless whites, and investment in public infrastructure.The academic consensus at this time portrayed black enfranchisement and Reconstruction governments in the south as a failure.A view had collected around James Pike's work, The Prostrate State (1878), written shortly after Reconstruction ended.
The newspapers specialized on news that flattered the poor whites and almost utterly ignored the Negro except in crime and ridicule." Some critics rejected Du Bois' critique of other historians writing about the freedmen's role during Reconstruction.
It marked a significant break with the standard academic view of Reconstruction at the time, the Dunning School, which contended that the period was a failure and downplayed the contributions of African Americans.
He wrote a more extensive essay on the topic entitled "Reconstruction and Its Benefits", which was first delivered to the American Historical Association in December 1909 in New York City.
The police were drawn from their ranks, and the courts, dependent upon their votes, treated them with such leniency as to encourage lawlessness.
Their vote selected public officials, and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect upon their personal treatment and the deference shown them.