Allen Carl Guelzo is the Senior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (1999) and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (2004), both of which won the Lincoln Prize, as well as Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America (2008); a volume of essays, Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas (2009); and Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (2009). Most recently, he is the author of Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (2012); Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (2013), which won a third Lincoln Prize and the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History; Lincoln: An Intimate Portrait (2014); Redeeming the Great Emancipator (2016); Reconstruction: A Concise History (2018); and Robert E. Lee: A Life (2021). With Patrick Allitt and Gary W. Gallagher, he team-taught The Teaching Company’s new edition of its American history series; his courses on Abraham Lincoln, American intellectual history, the American Revolution, and great history writers are also available on DVD.
Reconstruction has been variously interpreted as an a reprehensible act of sectional oppression, as a failed experiment in racial egalitarianism, or as an unfinished work of class revolution. Its participants -- those who promoted it and those who opposed it -- saw it in very different terms, as a "pure" bourgeois revolution, in which a free labor economy was to erase a feudal oligarchy. Unhappily, the oligarchy won, pacing the way for eighty years of racial and economic injustice.