Reconstruction Essay, Research Paper

The Era of Reconstruction following the Civil War was a period marked by an intense battle to reconstruct a worn-out and devastated society. The war, which was aimed at facing the national job of bondage, merely led to subsequent quandary over emancipation and an vague status of freedom. Some had naively believed that stoping bondage would work out the job of racial inequality, overlooking the bias and uninviting atmosphere towards inkinesss. Questions over how to reinstate a unpatriotic population with the autumn of the Confederacy and reconstruct a destroyed southern district rang throughout the state. Although the former slaves were undeniably freed, the foundations for a racial democracy were laid, and the state was one time once more united, overall, Reconstruction was a period of political discord, defects, and general failure.

After the war, the South was left in a province of complete convulsion. Passing ground forcess had shattered the South & # 8217 ; s agricultural economic system with the combustion of edifices, destructing of harvests, and killing of farm animal. Southern industry was besides severely hurt, as assets needed to back up loans were lost in the war. More significantly, the South, for the first clip of all time, was without an easy net income economic system based on bondage. Racial bias was every bit strong as of all time and many white Southerners, with a feeling of high quality found it hard to set to the new manner of life. To the discouragement of many freedwomans, President Johnson returned to whites the plantations that the Union Army had given to inkinesss during the war. Many freedwomans were forced to digest sharecropping in which they rented land from white plantation owners and relinquished a part of their crop. As a consequence, hapless husbandmans were bit by bit pushed into utmost debt and became victims of a onerous occupancy. The black codifications passed by the legislators of Southern provinces besides suppressed inkinesss. Although the codifications allowed for minor legal rights, they besides were geared to put inkinesss in an inferior place. Interracial matrimony was prohibited. In some countries freewomans needed particular licences to prosecute in specific trades and in others they were denied certain lands for farming. The South was left in economic ruin filled with racial favoritism.

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With the South in a province of despair it was clear that the federal authorities needed to take action. However, how to make so was greatly debated. Much of the weaknesss of Reconstruction were a consequence of the opposing positions of President Andrew Johnson and Congress. Johnson, a Southerner and former slave owner to the full disagreed with the Republican purposes of rigorous southern reinstatement and racial equality and from the get downing called such groups his & # 8220 ; adversaries. & # 8221 ; Johnson & # 8217 ; s Jacksonian strong beliefs for a genuinely united state led him to take a firm stand on the rapid Restoration of Southern authoritiess based on the prewar white electorate. High Confederate functionaries and all those having belongings valued at more than $ 20,000 were excluded from amnesty, but were entitled to single forgivenesss granted straight by the president. Such forgivenesss placed the president in a place of great power and made reinstatement excessively easy. Probationary governors were besides appointed to name constitutional conventions, in which the provinces were expected to sign the Thirteenth Amendment get rid ofing bondage, nullify their sezession regulations, and disown the Confederate debt. However, Johnson & # 8217 ; s program in pattern revealed that small had changed in the South. None of the provinces enfranchised even literate inkinesss. Many declined to invalidate the sezession regulations and disown their debt. Furthermore, Mississippi even refused to sign the Thirteenth Amendment. For the most portion, Johnson & # 8217 ; s program of Reconstruction left the South in its prewar province.

Doubting Johnson & # 8217 ; s plan and concerned for the safety of the freedwomans, the Republican Congress opposed the president & # 8217 ; s attempts and sought their ain program for reordering the South. Upon meeting in December of 1865, the organic structure refused to sit any of the representatives from the seceded provinces. All maters refering to the Restoration of the South were to be reserved for the freshly created Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction. Congress, believing that emancipation was non plenty and the rights of former slaves were in demand of protection, passed the Freedmen & # 8217 ; s Bureau and Civil Rights measures. It was contended that the agents of the once created Freedmen & # 8217 ; s Bureau

would implement the Civil Rights measure through their power to carry on tribunals and settle unfairnesss. Predictably, Johnson opposed both measures and declared them unconstitutional. By blackballing them, the president marked his disaffection from Congress and set off a concatenation of events taking towards failure.

After overruling Johnson & # 8217 ; s veto, Congress began to develop its ain Reconstruction program. Groups of the Republican Party sought to border a new amendment that could supply greater security than that given under the legal power of the Thirteenth Amendment. In its concluding signifier the Fourteenth Amendment defined American citizenship, ( includingblacks ) prohibited provinces to go through Torahs which hurt the natural rights of inkinesss, and established a franchise clause which potentially gave inkinesss the right to vote. Furthermore, it officially disqualified all former Confederates from public office. Republicans so passed the Reconstruction Acts which instituted the & # 8220 ; extremist & # 8221 ; stage of their program. They divided the South into five military territories, enfranchised inkinesss, and required southern provinces to pull up fundamental laws safeguarding such right to vote. Congress was determined to protect the rights of former slaves and set up a brotherhood of trueness.

Despite its ultimate failure, Reconstruction did hold some positive results lending to a changed South. Freedmen began to travel frontward both economically and politically as inkinesss easy assumed places as delegates, legislators, and professionals. The desire to unite, and readmit Rebel provinces shortly became a world and by 1868 all but three had been acknowledged. The new province fundamental laws were improved from their predecessors. States now assumed duty for many societal services that had once been left to local and public functionaries. Furthermore, public school systems, infirmaries, and establishments for the homeless and handicapped were created. Tax systems were fairer and provinces now undertook plans for economic recovery and up substructure. Most significantly, nevertheless, was that inkinesss were undeniably freed.

However, the many insufficiencies and failures of Reconstruction seem to outweigh these minor accomplishments. The footings of Ulysses S. Grant, Johnson & # 8217 ; s replacement, were filled with dirt and failed to finish the work of Reconstruction. White domination was reasserted through political relations and southern force. The extremist Republican motion died out, amnesty was frivolously granted to former Confederates, and the North & # 8217 ; s gradual loss of involvement in Southern affairs contributed to a flawed epoch. Many politicians were loath to go on sectional spat for in the words of Samuel J. Tilden, & # 8220 ; We have merely emerged from one civil war, and it will non make to prosecute in another civil war & # 8230 ; it would stop in the devastation of free government. & # 8221 ; White supremacists, with the purpose of restoring their laterality, shortly followed the & # 8220 ; Mississippi Plan, & # 8221 ; which called for the Restoration of Southern conservativists in local authorities and bullying through force to inkinesss electors. Blacks lost much of their newly gained economic power and were one time once more pushed back to a province of utmost lower status. Factionalism within Republicans, through the growing of Liberals in 1872, and the fiscal terror of 1873 contributed to a platform of assorted purposes and placed uncertainty on the Republican bulks in the House. Despite attempts to reform a devastated state in the old ages following the Civil War, small was accomplished with Reconstruction.

Reconstruction was an experiment that doubtless could non last. Marked by intense political division and sectional attitudes, the accomplishments of liberated slaves after the war were easy drawn to a minimal towards the terminal of the century. The Compromise of 1877 and the government-adopted policy of rapprochement exemplified the prostration of Reconstruction and willingness of the North to drop their strong beliefs for true racial equality.


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Donald, David, The Politicss of Reconstruction. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers,


McPherson, James M. Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War And Reconstruction. New York:

Alfred A. Knopf, INC. , 1982.


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