Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Blog Post #3 Brown

The Reconstruction era also known as the “Unfinished Revolution” had many major changes in history such as the creation of the 14th and 15th amendments and the black codes. In reading Joshua Brown “Reconstructing Representation, 1866-1877” it made me realize that it wasn’t as easy as I imagined it. Although many former slaves or immigrants were able to find  jobs due to the new laws being placed, it wasn’t enough for them to support their families. There was an economic depression in 1873 which led to many businesses hiring immigrants or former slaves because it was cheapest option for them. Leslie Illustrate Newspaper photo gives a great description on how families didn’t have enough money to feed the rest of their children and had to share their last piece of loaf wondering “where the next supply of food may come from”(Brown 133). Specifically it was demonstrated that the women did most of the work while the man just “sits idly by his cabin-door carousing with his boon companions”(Brown 132). There was also a “bitter Long Strike during the winter of 1874-75” where many miners protested to recieve a higher pay. During this Franklin Gowen the president of the Reading Railroad tried to “gain total control of eastern Pennsylvania coal mining by destroying the miners’ union”(Brown132). A lot of the people started to become chaotic because there was a lack of representation for the poor community. Even in today’s society there is a lack of representation for those who live in poverty. Although many changes have accrued throughout the years the most important issues we still continue to have is poverty and labor. It was interesting for me to see and learn about the negative side of the reconstructive era because what normally comes to my head when I think about reconstructive is how society improved due to new technology and expansion which eventually created more jobs for people. Now I see that it isn’t always the case and that every change has their pros and cons.

One thought on “Blog Post #3 Brown”

  1. OK, you touch on some important points here… but thinking about the illustrated newspapers as one of the major media outlets of their day, how does Brown suggest they manipulated readers by using images of striking miners and workers, immigrants, the poor, etc.? At times they portrayed these groups sympathetically, but more often than not they seemed to reflect a conservative, middle-class perspective that was rather hostile to immigrants and strikers.

    A point of clarification: yes, the period Brown describes (1866–77) overlaps with Reconstruction, but that was primarily a southern, and largely political phenomenon. The events covered in this chapter, as you correctly identify, reflect a very different aspect of the period, but be wary of referring to this as Reconstruction… for one thing, very few former slaves were competing for jobs in mining or other primarily northern industries at this point.

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