American Experience: Season 16, Episode 2

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War, Part 1 - Revolution (12 Jan. 2004)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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Title: Reconstruction: The Second Civil War, Part 1 - Revolution (12 Jan 2004)

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Episode credited cast:
Ryan Dupree ...
Marshall Twitchell
Dion Graham ...


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Release Date:

12 January 2004 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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A nice re-examination of Reconstruction.
26 February 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The Reconstruction era lasted for well over a decade following the US Civil War. This time period was marked by an attempt to re-form the nation as well as grant political equality to newly freed Black citizens. Ultimately, however, despite some good intentions, many of the gains made on behalf of Black-Americans was lost when the Southerners were allowed to systematically disenfranchise the non-White voters.

Starting in the late 19th century, many have attempted to reinterpret this period in history. Folks who were profoundly in favor of portraying the Whites in the South as victims relabeled much of this period in negative ways--saying the Northerners who came South were all villainous 'carpet-baggers' intent on raping the region and bringing inequity. D.W. Griffith went so far as to portray the Blacks of the time in nearly demonic terms--and his picture, "Birth of a Nation", did much to solidify this inaccurate view of Reconstruction as an imposed evil by the North.

"The Second Civil War" attempts to correct this error. It shows how in many instances, necessarily legislation to provide Blacks with full citizenship rights was undone by bigoted folks who had no intention of changing a system they thought was just fine. So, in the revisionist view of the 19th-20th century, following Reconstruction, lynchings, threats by the Klan and voter intimidation were somehow made to seem acceptable or even necessary--and "The American Experience" attempts to correct this false image--showing the good, bad and ultimate failings of the era through a less partial lens. And, it exposes the racism that underpins the false image of the times through interviews, photos and the like. Well worth seeing and quite thought-provoking.

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