- the centrality of black experience
- the larger context of an emergent national state
- the impact of social, political, economic, and moral developments in the North affected the course of Reconstruction in the South
Foner is careful to show that Reconstruction failed not because of class warfare, but because of racial conflict; poor whites aligned with white elites to oppress blacks in support of Republican "free labor ideology," even though this move was against their own class interests. He thus complements a detailed discussion of black community institutions and efforts to gain education and representation with an analysis of how fear of black assertiveness shaped both the postslavery system and the emergence of a new Republican party. As Foner suggests, in the complex post-Civil War environment of Reconstruction, 'perhaps the remarkable thing about Reconstruction was not that it failed, but that it was attempted at all and survived as long as it did."