Reconstructing an Identity: Critical Reexamination of the Historical Legacy of John Walter Stephens An Advocate for Social Equality During Reconstruction Who Was Assassinated By the Ku Klux Klan

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jarrell Hampton Young (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site:
Daniel Pierce

Abstract: Many of the individuals that featured prominently in the events surrounding Reconstruction have long been vilified in the public and academic spheres. The long-held worldviews, belief systems and behaviors of a slave society, ingrained over generations, did not immediately cease after the Civil War. The prejudices of the era were perpetuated and given credence by early twentieth century historians who interpreted the events of Reconstruction using the Dunning Method, an inherently biased and overtly racist interpretation. It has only been in the recent past that scholarly historical revisionism deconstructed the overall narrative and demonstrated the fallacies of these early interpretations. John Walter Stephens, a Republican Senator from Caswell County, North Carolina, has maintained a legacy that is indicative of the ramifications of the Dunning School interpretation. For nearly one hundred and fifty years Stephens’s narrative has been one analogous with debasement and corruption; never shifting too far from the public image he had fought against in life. This paper seeks to deconstruct and critique the established biography of John W. Stephens using contemporary scholarship to present a more objective and contextual depiction of the late senator.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Reconstruction, John Walter Stephens, Caswell County, historical revisionism

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