Cartoon: Jesse and Frank James Discover the Risks of Railroad Robbery, by M.W. Summers

Political cartoon and commentary by historian Mark Wahlgren Summers: meet two men who eclipsed Jesse and Frank James in their exploitative conquests. Continue Reading Cartoon: Jesse and Frank James Discover the Risks of Railroad Robbery, by M.W. Summers

Cartoon: John B. Gordon Takes Umbrage and Crisp Twenties, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Today’s cartoon and commentary by historian and illustrator Summers features the hypocrisy of some politician-businessman relations in the Reconstruction South Continue Reading Cartoon: John B. Gordon Takes Umbrage and Crisp Twenties, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Cartoon: Wade Hampton’s Whiskers, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Political cartoon and commentary by historian Mark Wahlgren Summers: How the Lost Cause lost its way with Wade Hampton Continue Reading Cartoon: Wade Hampton’s Whiskers, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Cartoon: 1874 Arkansas Politics, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Historian Mark Wahlgren Summers’ latest political cartoon and commentary: 1874 Arkansas Politics is to Politics What Jackson Pollock Is to Portrait Painting. Continue Reading Cartoon: 1874 Arkansas Politics, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Cartoon: The Grannies, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Today’s cartoon and commentary by historian and illustrator Summers highlights the scandal of political patronage in the Reconstruction South. Continue Reading Cartoon: The Grannies, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Cartoon: Sumner Gives the Lord Another Chance, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

On Thursdays over the coming weeks, we will feature a new cartoon—hand drawn by Summers—that offers a creative, satirical spin on Reconstruction history. Each cartoon is accompanied by brief commentary from the author/illustrator to help put things into context. These cartoons stimulate your brain, tickle your funny bone, and bring history to life in a whole new way. Next up in the satirical scaffold: a depiction of the Senator of Massachusetts, Charles Sumner. Continue Reading Cartoon: Sumner Gives the Lord Another Chance, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Cartoon: Not Everyone Loves a Parade, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Louisiana’s first Republican governor, the flamboyant Henry Clay Warmoth was unable to rein in a free-spending legislature, one of the most corrupt anywhere south of New York. Not all the spending was stealing; money to aid railroad construction and special privileges given to northern corporations that might link New Orleans with Mobile, Texas, and the North could have freed the Pelican State from the cash-crop economy, in which freedpeople’s opportunities were limited—if it had worked. Continue Reading Cartoon: Not Everyone Loves a Parade, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Cartoon: We’re looking for people who like to steal, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

On Thursdays over the coming weeks, we will feature a new cartoon—hand drawn by Summers—that offers a creative, satirical spin on Reconstruction history. Each cartoon is accompanied by brief commentary from the author/illustrator to help put things into context. These cartoons stimulate your brain, tickle your funny bone, and bring history to life in a whole new way. First up in the satirical scaffold today: corrupt politicians and the businessmen who love (to bribe) them. Continue Reading Cartoon: We’re looking for people who like to steal, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

Excerpt: Stories of the South: Race and the Construction of Southern Identity, 1865-1915, by K. Stephen Prince

When it was published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin quickly became the most inflammatory, explosive, and politically significant literary text of the antebellum period. Adapted to the stage shortly thereafter, Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s moral fervor, emotional power, and iconic characters soon made it a theatrical institution. Continue Reading Excerpt: Stories of the South: Race and the Construction of Southern Identity, 1865-1915, by K. Stephen Prince

K. Stephen Prince: Thinking about Reconstruction at 150 Years

Reconstruction remains one of the most widely misunderstood eras in United States history. Though historians have largely discredited the white supremacist interpretations of William A. Dunning and his students, the Dunning School lives on in the public at large. Otherwise informed and well-meaning individuals unthinkingly parrot early-twentieth-century critiques of Reconstruction, casually dismissing it as an era of federal overreach, northern cruelty, and cynical corruption. My own experience bears out this observation: a friend who claims that Reconstruction failed because it was “too harsh,” or a student who labels the period a “tragedy” without being able to provide a single reason for this characterization. I expect other scholars of the period have had similar experiences. It seems that on an instinctive, knee-jerk level, many Americans respond negatively to Reconstruction, though most could not explain why. The 150th anniversary of Reconstruction offers a perfect opportunity to set the record straight, or at least to give the public a fair accounting of the period’s challenges, its successes, and its failures. Continue Reading K. Stephen Prince: Thinking about Reconstruction at 150 Years