"Black Reconstruction" is Published

Black Reconstruction in America is a book by W. E. B. Du Bois, first published in 1935.

It is revisionist approach to looking at the Reconstruction of the south after its defeat in the American civil war. On the whole, the book takes a Marxist approach to looking at reconstruction. The essential argument of the text is that the Black and White laborers, who are the proletariat, were divided after the civil war on the lines of race, and as such were unable to stand together against the white propertied class, the bourgeoisie. This to Du Bois was the failure of reconstruction and the reason for the rise of the Jim Crow laws, and other such injustices.

In addition to creating a landmark work in early U.S. Marxist sociology, at the time Dubois’ historical scholarship and use of the techniques of primary source data research on the post war political economy of the former Confederate States’ were equally ground breaking. He performed the first systematic and rigorous analysis of the political economy of the reconstruction period of the southern states; based upon actual data collected during period. In chapter five, Du Bois argues that the decision by slaves on the southern plantations to stop working was an example of a General Strike. This type of Marxist rhetoric is in concert with his arguments throughout the book that the Civil War was largely a war fought over labor issues.

Du Bois' 1927 visit to the USSR inspired him to call the Soviet system "the most hopeful vehicle for the world." In 1935 he published the book Black Reconstruction, which offered a Marxist interpretation of the Reconstruction Era. In 1942 DuBois signed a statement of the Citizens Committee to Free Earl Browder, the general secretary of the Communist Party (and as the Venona transcripts later revealed the leader of a large Soviet espionage ring), who was then serving a four-year term for using false passports; President Franklin D. Roosevelt released Browder from most of his sentence as a gesture of goodwill to Stalin.