Reconstruction & Eric Foner

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thursday night I attended The Significance of Reconstruction in American History : Keynote Address by Eric Foner at Ladson Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC.  Ladson Presbyterian Church is a beautiful building.  Ladson, present church, was built in 1896 (previous building was burnt by Union troops when Sherman entered Columbia in 1865) and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Ladson was the perfect place to hold the talk by Eric Foner regarding Reconstruction as this church hired its first ever African-American minister, a former slave, in 1876.

As I was seated and taking in the simple beauty of the inside of this building, I suddenly heard the Battle Hyman of the Republic being played.  I looked towards the front of the church to find a man playing the clarinet.  He continued playing a couple of hymns which were just beautiful!

There were a few introductions made then Eric Foner began speaking on Reconstruction.  Mr. Foner spoke in a way that felt more like a conversation then like an actual lecture which immediately drew me in.  He began with a question..."What was Reconstruction?"  He then continued with noting that Reconstruction is still very much a part of our lives today.  Many of the issues we are currently dealing with in 2016 are the same issues that were being dealt with in 1865 (and throughout Reconstruction)...citizenship, the relationship between State and Federal, terrorism, etc. 

Eric Foner continued to speak on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Reconstruction Act of 1867, the Second Reconstruction (the Civil Rights Movement), and 40 acres & a mule.  Before I knew it the talk was over and we were all exiting the Church.  What felt like 5 minutes (but was really an hour) opened my eyes (even more) to how history repeats itself...when in 2016 we are still discussing/debating/living/arguing 1865 matters because things have not changed we seriously need to wake up and make a change.  Mr. Foner ended his talk with a quote from Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Union officer who was the Colonel of the 1st SC Volunteers, "Revolutions may go backwards." 

I am very glad that I was able to attend this wonderful talk by Eric Foner.  Check out his book Reconstruction : America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877, I know I will.

Happy Travels,

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