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Columbia University

The Civil War and Reconstruction – 1865-1890: The Unfinished Revolution

Columbia University via edX


The Civil War and Reconstruction - 1865-1890: The Unfinished Revolution , examines the pivotal but misunderstood era of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War, the first effort in American history to construct an interracial democracy. Beginning with a discussion of the dramatic change in historians’ interpretations of the period in the last two generations, the course goes on to discuss how Reconstruction turned on issues of continued relevance today. Among these are: who is an American citizen and what are citizens’ rights; what is the relationship between political and economic freedom; which has the primary responsibility for protecting Americans’ rights – the federal or state governments; and how should public authorities respond to episodes of terrorism? The course explores the rewriting of the laws and Constitution to incorporate the principle of equality regardless of race; the accomplishments and failings of Reconstruction governments in the South; the reasons for violent opposition in the South and for the northern retreat from Reconstruction; and the consolidation at the end of the nineteenth century of a new system of white supremacy.

This course is part of the XSeries, Civil War and Reconstruction , which introduces students to the most pivotal era in American history. The Civil War transformed the nation by eliminating the threat of secession and destroying the institution of slavery. It raised questions that remain central to our understanding of ourselves as a people and a nation – the balance of power between local and national authority, the boundaries of citizenship, and the meanings of freedom and equality. The XSeries will examine the causes of the war, the road to secession, the conduct of the Civil War, the coming of emancipation, and the struggle after the war to breathe meaning into the promise of freedom for four million emancipated slaves. One theme throughout the XSeries is what might be called the politics of history – how the world in which a historian lives affects his or her view of the past, and how historical interpretations reinforce or challenge the social order of the present.

Taught by

Eric Foner


5.0 rating, based on 7 Class Central reviews

5 rating at edX based on 7 ratings

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  • Jan Kulp
    This was the third in a series of courses on the Civil War and reconstruction. What a great course! Eric Foner is a great lecturer with a very engaging manner. I took this course out of curiosity after finishing another online course and am very glad I did. I have no background in history other than a class taken in Junior high and went into this not knowing much at all about the subject. This course has sparked an interest I never knew was there. I would like to go back and take the rest of the courses in the series, but I'm not sure they will be offered anytime soon. My loss.
  • Bob
    This entire 3 course series is a must for ANYONE interested in learning about the country during that extremely trying time. I came across HIST1.3X in time to take the class when it was originally presented. This stoked my curiosity to then take 1.2x & 1.1x all of which were absolutely fantastic! Do yourself a favor --- all 3 are now archived & available. They are the three best courses I have taken thus far !!!
  • Eric Gehlhaar
    Completes a series of three courses surveying American History in the 19th century. Foner has written the standard text on the Reconstruction period and is a relaxed and witty lecturer.
  • Greg Foley
    Sounds exciting as I just finished Grant by Chernow and reading Rebel Yell by S. C.

    Looking foward to hearing more and actually interchanging with others
  • It is the civil war and reconstruction, which touches on the most pivotal stages in American history that the civil war transformed the nation by eliminating the threat of secession and destroying the institution of slavery.
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    Michael Ye

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