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American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War


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American Experience
Reconstruction: The Second Civil War
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Series Description

Premiered October 1988 As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award. Series release date: 10/1988

Program Description

In the tumultuous years after the Civil War (1863-77), America grappled with how to rebuild itself, how to successfully bring the South back into the Union and how to bring former slaves into the life of the country. Dion Graham narrates. 1602 “Revolution”--In the chaos following the Civil War, a revolution takes shape in the South. Former slaves move to take control of their lives, setting up their own communities, churches and schools. Southern whites, deeply threatened, resist — often violently. Congress finally acts to stem the violence and safeguard blacks’ rights, and passes Radical Reconstruction, imposing military rule on the South and giving black men the vote. 1603 “Retreat”--Radical Reconstruction, the world’s first large-scale experiment in interracial democracy, sweeps across the South; white resistance flares into violence. Northern commitment to Reconstruction wanes as the white Southern version of Reconstruction, the “lost cause,” captures the Northern imagination. By l877, Reconstruction is over, but it has laid the groundwork, both in legislation and in black memory, for the great Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. On-screen commentators Edward L. Ayers, University of Virginia David W. Blight, Yale University Russell Duncan, University of Copenhagen Drew Gilpin Faust, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Eric Foner, Columbia University James G. Marston, III, Descendant of Louisiana Planter Dana D. Nelson, University of Kentucky Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University Ted Tunnell, Virginia Commonwealth University Clarence E. Walker, University of California, Davis Shot on location in Alabama: Tuscaloosa Georgia: Groveland, Midway, Ossabaw Island, Savannah Louisiana: Natchitoches, Shreveport Massachusetts: Danvers North Carolina: Raleigh Re-enactors • First Louisiana Cavalry Regiment, Company E, based in Louisiana • Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, based in South Carolina • The Liberty Greys, New England • Sixty-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, based in Georgia • Societé d’Europe, New England • Third South Carolina Cavalry, based in Georgia • Thirty-Second Georgia Artillery, based in Georgia • Twenty-Eighth Massachusetts Regiment, based in Massachusetts and New Hampshire Featured characters • Frances “Fan” Butler, a plantation mistress who struggles to reclaim her place in a world where slaves are now free • Tunis Campbell, a fiery black minister who mounts a pitched battle with white landowners • John Roy Lynch, a former slave who is elected to Congress • Marshall Twitchell, a Yankee officer who ventures into the most violent corner of Louisiana to try to impose order • And the presidents and generals whose lives are caught up in the epochal struggles of the era



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Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War,” 10/24/2003, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 26, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4ACAD59122394FD89A1AF2CE19D48447.
MLA: “American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War.” 10/24/2003. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 26, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4ACAD59122394FD89A1AF2CE19D48447>.
APA: American Experience; Reconstruction: The Second Civil War. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4ACAD59122394FD89A1AF2CE19D48447
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