William Archibald Dunning

William Archibald Dunning

William Archibald Dunning (1857-1922) was an American historian who founded the Dunning School of Reconstruction historiography at Columbia University, where he had graduated in 1881. Between 1886 and 1903 he taught history at Columbia, and was named a professor in 1904.New International Encyclopedia Born in Plainfield, N. J., Dunning was among the founders of the American Historical Association and AHA president in 1913.

Historical influence

The interpretation of post-Civil War Reconstruction in the United States that Dunning and his students propounded was the dominant theory taught in American schools for the first half of the 20th century. The viewpoint of Dunning and his followers was warmly sympathetic to former slave owners who had led some southern states to secede from the United States.

Dunning and his followers also condemned white Southerners who did not stand with the Confederacy during the Civil War and who joined the Republican Party after the war. Former Confederate leaders referred to the largest group of white Southern Republicans who did not identify with the goals of former plantation owners as Scalawags. They also referred to Northern whites who moved to the southern part of the United States after the war as Carpetbaggers. Both were derisive terms that Dunning and his followers popularized.

:Reconstruction's mythic cast of characters includes the "carpetbaggers", whom southern whites portrayed as greedy interlopers exploiting the South; the "scalawags", who were traitorous southern whites collaborating with the Yankees; the freedmen, who were sometimes seen as violent and depraved in the myth but mostly seemed ignorant and lost; and the former Confederates, who were the heroes of the story, all honorable, decent people with the South's best interests in mind. [McCrary, Peyton, "The Reconstruction Myth" in "Encyclopedia of Southern Culture"]

Our contemporary understanding of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson traces back to the early twentieth century, when Columbia University's William Dunning lent academic respectability to a popular version of Reconstruction history pioneered by segregationist Southern Democrats and slavery apologists. Dunning wrote from the point of view of the defeated South and painted the Radical Republicans as villains. His interpretation served the ideological purposes of a majority-white country eager to put the divisions of the nineteenth century behind it, and it thus came to saturate public memory until the very dawn of the civil rights era. Indeed, its indirect influence is visible even in John F. Kennedy's book "Profiles in Courage", which admired... Edmund G. Ross, the Kansas Republican senator who cast the vote that acquitted Johnson. [Joshua Zeitz "The New Republic, 18 January 1999, pp. 13-15]

Books by Dunning

* "History of Political Theories, Ancient and Mediœval" (3 vol., 1902–20)
* "Reconstruction—Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction" (1898, rev. ed. 1904)
* "History of Political Theories from Luther to Montesquieu" (1905)
* "Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 1865–1877" (1907)
* "Carl Schurz's Political Career, 1869-1906", with Frederic Bancroft (1908)
* "Paying for Alaska" (1912)
* "The British Empire and the United States (1914)"
*cite book


* Beale, Howard K."American Historical Review." "On Rewriting Reconstruction History," 807–27.

* Foner, Foner|Eric Foner. "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877." 1988.

* Lewis, David Levering|David Levering Lewis [http://silverdialogues.fas.nyu.edu/docs/CP/301/leveringlewis.pdf]

* Franklin, John Hope|John Hope Franklin. "Mirror for Americans: A Century of Reconstruction History" presidential address, American Historical Association. 1979. [http://www.historians.org/info/AHA_History/jhfranklin.htm]

* McCrary, Peyton. "The Reconstruction Myth" in "Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" (University of North Carolina Press: 1989) McCrary, a historian with the United States Department of Justice taught at the University of Minnesota, Vanderbilt, and the University of South Alabama for 20 years.

* Zeitz, Joshua. "The New Republic," 18 January 1999, pp. 13-15.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • William Archibald (disambiguation) — William Archibald may refer to:*William Archibald (1852 1926), English born Australian politician *William Archibald (screenwriter) (1917 1970), Trinidad and Tobago born American screenwriter (for example, of I Confess )William Archibald may also …   Wikipedia

  • Dunning (surname) — Dunning is a surname. Notable persons with that surname include: Charles Avery Dunning, Canadian politician Chester Dunning, Texas historian and specialist in Russian studies Darren Dunning, English footballer Debbe Dunning, American actress… …   Wikipedia

  • Dunning School — The Dunning School refers to a group of historians who shared a historiographical school of thought regarding the Reconstruction period of American history (1865–1877). Contents 1 About 2 Criticism of the Dunning School (1950 2007) 3 Representati …   Wikipedia

  • William Melville Martin — (August 23, 1876 ndash; June 22, 1970) served as Liberal Premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan from 1916 to 1922. Martin was elected to the House of Commons for Regina in the Canadian federal election, 1908 federal election, and re… …   Wikipedia

  • John Archibald Maharg — Infobox Prime Minister name = John Archibald Maharg honorific suffix = MLA caption = office1 = Leader of the Opposition term start1 = 1923 term end1 = 1923 predecessor1 = Donald McLean successor1 = Harris Turner party = Independent (supportive of …   Wikipedia

  • Walter Lynwood Fleming — (1874 1932) was an American historian, born on a farm at Brundidge, Ala., April 8, 1874, the son of William LeRoy and Mary Love (Edwards) Fleming. His parents on both sides were Georgians who migrated to Alabama in the ante bellum period. His… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Columbia College people — The following list contains only notable graduates and former students of Columbia College, the undergraduate liberal arts division of Columbia University, and its predecessor, from 1754 to 1776, King s College. For a full list of individuals… …   Wikipedia

  • political philosophy — Branch of philosophy that analyzes the state and related concepts such as political obligation, law, social justice, and constitution. The first major work of political philosophy in the Western tradition was Plato s Republic. Aristotle s… …   Universalium

  • Liste der Historiker des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts — Die Liste der Historiker des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts führt beispielhaft solche Personen auf, die im Gesamtgebiet der Erforschung, Darstellung und Interpretation der Geschichte, einschließlich der Archäologie, Ur und Frühgeschichte und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • 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. Since Du Bois was known for his Marxism, it is not surprising… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.