What is the “revisionist history” of scholars such as Woodward, Bond, and Stampp?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The revisionist history of the Reconstruction Era is centered around the idea that earlier historical interpretations of that time were tainted by anti-black bias. 

The earlier historiography of Reconstruction is sometimes known as the "Dunning School."  This school held that Reconstruction was a major mistake largely because it gave too many rights and too much power to the freed slaves.  These people were unready for such things and their mistakes made segregation necessary.

The revisionist school recognized that there were problems with the Reconstruction governments.  However, this school also argues that the real problem was that there was not enough commitment to protecting the rights of the freedmen.  It argues that "negro rule" and the corruption of the "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags" were not the real problem.  The real problem was that the governments were simply not willing to push hard enough to truly bring about equality for African Americans.

This revisionist history has come to dominate the field of Reconstruction historiography.