In Stephen Nissenbaum’s article, “ An Insurrection That Never Happened: ‘The Christmas Riots’,” he presents a somewhat convincing analysis of the social inequality, lack of government unison, and political movements to prove reconstruction was never completed. He does this by first explaining an example of the christmas riots, then continues to show its relevance and interpret it in the more general history of the time. Nissenbaum states, “The story of the ‘Christmas Riots’ of 1865 is a microcosm of the entire period that became known as reconstruction, the years between 1865 and 1877. It was a period of great hopes for the freedmen, hopes that were dashed, then raised, then dashed once again.” (15).
His arguments for his thesis can be grouped into political, economic, and finally social areas. Socially, acts such as the black codes, vagrancy fines, and the ku klux klan proved the majority of the whites society’s goal was to keep racial inequality where it was. Economically speaking, refusing to grant the slaves land after freedom, the 14th and 15th amendment which both having to be passed in order to allow adult males to vote, and the lack of education available for them made a steady income difficult. Finally, Mississippi and Texas refusing to sign the 13th amendment, the split congress which refused to accept nominations for political elections, and Mississippi being denied military assistance during elections proved that the efforts to put forth legislation was politically challenging. These were strong points because they were historically verifiable facts that supported the argument in his thesis.
The motive behind writing this piece is largely assumed, but also slightly ins...
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...essages and vague roundabout statements tends to lose the reader. For example, “For the first time in Southern history (and, as it happened, the last time for another century), black people were exercising real political power.”(16). This raises the question of what he considers all of southern history, why it hasn 't happened for another century, and what the real power is. This leads the reader on tangents which he does not follow up with.
Overall, Nissenbaum’s article, “An Insurrection That Never Happened: The ‘Christmas Riots’ of 1865” was a meaningful, but poorly executed message. It lost many readers with the odd structure, and confused many with the contradictory evidence, but the thesis was clear and the idea was successfully planted in the audience’s head. I feel that the main point of writing is to spread ideas or information, so, I consider him a success.
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