Historian Eric Foner, in his Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988), wrote:
“Revising interpretations of the past is intrinsic to the study of history. But no part of the American experience has, in the last twenty-five years, seen a broadly accepted point of view so completely overturned as Reconstruction – the violent, dramatic, and still controversial era that followed the Civil War. Since the early 1960s, a profound alteration of the place of blacks within American society, newly uncovered evidence, and changing definitions of history itself have combined to transform our understanding of race relations, politics, and economic change during Reconstruction. Yet despite this change in consciousness, so to speak, historians have yet to produce a coherent new portrait of the era.”
The following portion of this exhibit addresses the previous interpretations, examines the new evidence and interpretations, and relates them to Virginia and Stafford during the Reconstruction period from 1865-1877.