The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 276
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
state, and the recent appearance of various studies suggests that Recon-
struction writing is entering a postrevisionist phase.2
Up to a score of years ago, the body of Texas Reconstruction works
was composed of a general study of the Presidential Reconstruction
years (Ramsdell), one survey of the Republican years (Nunn), a wide-
ranging monograph of the prewar and postwar years that basically ac-
cepted the two previous interpretations (Wallace), and a handful of
other essays. Generally based upon a limited array of sources (many
times conservative newspaper accounts), these studies discussed con-
troversial topics such as the Freedmen's Bureau, the two constitutions
of 1866 and 1869, the law, economics, and a few other related issues
such as the Republican party and to a lesser extent the State Police. All
were portrayed in a baneful light. Blacks were almost totally neglected.:'
In the last major reassessment of Texas Reconstruction historiog-
raphy, Edgar P. Sneed in 1969 discredited past interpretations of the
postwar years, asserting that Texas historians writing about the post-
bellum era had "confused sympathy with judgment" and thought it
History (cited hereafter as JAH), LXI (Sept, 1974), 325-338; Larry Kincaid, "Victims of Cir-
cumstance. An Interpretation of Changing Attitudes toward Republican Policy Makers and
Reconstruction," ibid., LVII (June, 1970), 48-66; Michael Les Benedict, "Preserving the Con-
stitution: The Conservative Basis of Radical Reconstruction," ibid., LXI (June, 1974), 65-90,
Armstead L. Robinson, "Beyond the Realm of Social Consensus: New Meanings of Reconstruc-
tion for American History," Ibid., LXVIII (Sept., 1981), 276-297; Richard O. Curry, "The
Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877 A Critical Overview of Recent Trends and Inter-
pretations," Civil War History (cited hereafter as CWII), XX (Sept., 1974), 2'5-228. Perman
writes that the divergent explanations "are all permeated by a tone of recrimination and
blame," 3. To him, the "central question is not why Reconstruction failed but whether it had
any chance of succeeding in the first place," 4. A brilliant summary of all the changing perspec-
tives is Eric Foner, Reconstructzon- Amerzca's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York
Harper & Row, 1988), xix-xxvn For analysis see C. Van Woodward, "Unfinished Business,"
New York Review of Book, XXXV (May 12, 1988), 22-24, 26-27
2Charles William Ramsdell, Reconstructzon zn Texas (New York. Columbia University, 1910);
W. C. Nunn, Texas Under the Carpetbaggers (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962). On
Ramsdell see James Payne Sutton, "Texas Historiography in the Twentieth Century- A Study
of Eugene C. Barker, Charles W. Ramsdell and Walter P. Webb" (Ph.D. diss, University of
Denver, 1972). Especially useful for analysis are Eric Foner, "The New View of Reconstruc-
tion," American Ilertage, XXXIV (Oct./Nov., 1983), 11; Eric Foner, "Reconstruction Revisited,"
Reviews in American History, X (Dec, 1982), 82- oo; and Eric Foner, Nothing But Freedom
Emancipation and Its Legacy (Baton Rouge. Louislana State University Press, 1983) Two excel-
lent recent surveys of Reconstruction historiography are John Hope Franklin, "Mirror for
Americans. A Century of Reconstruction History," American Historical Review, LXXXV (Feb.,
1980), 1-14; LaWanda Cox, "From Emancipation to Segregation- National Policy and South-
ern Blacks," in Interpreting Southern History Hstoriogsaphcal Essays in Ilonor of Sanford W
HIgginbotham, ed. John B. Boles and Evelyn Thomas Nolen (Baton Rouge. Louisiana State Unim-
versity Press, 1987), 199-253. A work that surveys several Southern states during this era but
completely ignores Texas is Otto H Olsen (ed.), Reconstruction and Redemptzon in the South
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980) In Reconstruction. Amenca's Unfinished
Revolution, Foner successfully weaves Texas into the national Reconstruction context His many
observations about Reconstruction Texas are careful and splendid at the same time
'Ernest Wallace, Texas in Turmoil: The Saga of Texas, 1849-1875 (Austin- Steck-Vaughn Co.,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/332/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.