Was Reconstruction the opportunity for building a new social order according to which the North and the South of the USA could develop in a mutual agreement after the years of the cruel Civil War? What were the ways to achieve the goals pointed out as the results of the Civil War?
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The American historians and researchers made the attempt to answer these controversial questions in their movie Reconstruction – the Second Civil War. According to the title of the movie, it is possible to state that it is rather difficult to consider the period of Reconstruction as the beginning of the peaceful living of the nation after the war, but it is the start for the development of long and problematic processes which involve all the sides of the nation’s everyday life.
The authors of the movie present a wide retrospective of the events which took place during Reconstruction and gave their detailed analysis with references to the evidences presented in a number of historical documents and memoirs.
The authors also discuss the period of Reconstruction basing on the material given in the book by Eric Foner which is Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. Thus, the movie is divided into two parts which present the through examination of such fields of issues as the civil rights and the effects of Civil War and Reconstruction on the people’s lives.
Therefore, was it possible to create a new social order in the situation of the almost absolute decline of the nation and social confusion of the majority of the people who did not know how to live under new conditions? The war did not solve the problem of racial prejudice. If slavery is forbidden, it does not mean that ‘black’ people become the part of the ‘white’ society immediately and without any difficulties (“Reconstruction”). The movie offers the evidences that this problem was not only solved but also acquired new features.
To depict the peculiarities of Reconstruction, the authors of the movie accentuate the figures of the most important historical leaders and focus on their role in creating the revolution in the social and political life. However, political leaders tried to control the situation on the governmental level, but what processes were in progress in society?
The stories about the ordinary Americans help to create the full picture of the issue of Reconstruction and determine its main aspects. It was the personal story of every individual in the USA behind Reconstruction. There were not such people who could avoid its negative effects. The situation was rather challengeable for both ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ who tried to adapt to the new social structure.
Reconstruction has the decisive impacts on the history of the American nation. The pictures from the movie illustrate the development of the aspects of such significant notions as freedom and citizenship (“Reconstruction”). The issues of Reconstruction were also important for the development of the basics for building the principles of the modern American nation and society.
In their movie, the authors of Reconstruction – the Second Civil War draw the audience’s attention to the fact that it is absolutely necessary to concentrate on both positive and negative effects of Reconstruction as the one of the most controversial period in the American history and not ignore them because this period has the significant historical meaning. Reconstruction’s results are quite helpful for understanding the processes in the modern society and history.
“Reconstruction – the Second Civil War”. PBS American Experience. 19 Dec. 2003. Video.