Where are the Women in the History of Reconstruction?

Over at Claire Potter’s Tenured Radical blog, we had an interesting exchange about women in the history of Reconstruction. Potter chided Eric Foner for eliding the history of women in his review of Douglas R. Egerton’s new Wars of Reconstruction. Potter then asked what the history of Reconstruction might look like if we remembered the women. I replied:

“One place to start is with the African American women who worked in coalition with Stanton, et al. in those years. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was among them and she would endorse the political compromises of the 14th and 15th amendments, though not without lament. More generally, mid-nineteenth century black women activists would not endorse the view that the 14th amendment operated to “remake black families, and black masculinity, in the patriarchal model established and defended by white men.” To the contrary, black women took inspiration and insight from the debates generated by the Reconstruction amendments. In their community institutions, especially African American churches, they waged important battles for the rights of women using the rhetoric of politics. And sometimes they did so in coalition with their male counterparts. Yes, let’s remember the women.”

From there thread got very interesting. Read more here.

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