FRESH AIR: In the period after the Civil War, former slaves were made promises of equality and citizenship by the federal government. Historian Eric Foner analyzes the fate of those promises in Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction.
The drastic changes in American society are pointed up by three amendments to the Constitution: the 13th abolished slavery; the 14th guaranteed birthright citizenship and equal rights for all Americans; and the 15th barred states from discriminating on the basis of race in voting rights.
Foner writes, “The unresolved legacy of Reconstruction remains a part of our lives. In movements for social justice that have built on the legal and political accomplishments of Reconstruction, and in the racial tensions that still plague American society, the momentous events of Reconstruction reverberate in modern-day America.”
Now the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, Foner has written about America’s social and intellectual history since 1970, when he wrote Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, about the Civil War and the Republican Party. MORE