The Failure Of Reconstruction In The United States

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As humans, we often fear those who are different from us. After the ending of the American civil war in 1865, the priority was to rebuild the south after the abolition of slavery, disruptions of the economy due to war, and renew the political system from the previously existing system. Due to the freedom of these African Americans the souths hatred grew towards this specific group, African Americans were left to suffer harsh discrimination and terrible conditions. Although it did come to an end, the resulting outcome has been labeled both a success and a failure.

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When reconstruction began in 1865, America had just finished fighting the civil war. It was to repair the North and South, politically, socially, and economically. Economically or politically the south was non-existent they were searching for a way back in. Reconstruction consisted of 3 major initiatives restoration of union, the transformation of Southern society, and to favor of the rights of freed slaves. The union of total war destroyed Southern crops, plantations, and entire cities. Inflation became so severe thousands of white Southerners starved to death and those who were economically good lost everything such as clothes, houses, and starved. To restore the union and transform society once again the North and the South would have to reunite. They worked out their situation and congress passed three new amendments. First, was the thirteenth amendment, the abolition of slavery, second the fourteenth amendment was that it granted black males citizenship, and third was the fifteenth amendment which granted black males the right to vote.

The main goal was supposed to have a profound change in society. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Hill, Elias.” Testimony before the congressional committee investigating the Ku Klux Klan, 1871.” “Reading the American Past: Selected Historical Documents Vol. 1: To 1877 ed. Ed. Michael P. Johnson: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 330-333 states, “They struck me again with their fists on my breast, and then they went on, “when did you hold a night-meeting of the union league, and who were the officers? “who was the president?” I told them I had been the president, but that there had been no union league meeting held at the place where they were formerly held since away in the fall.” This shows, how the South was stubborn to accept change in politics, culture, and the economy they fought to keep the old South. Meaning they wanted African Americans to be enslaved; they were scared African Americans would better themselves and take over their organizations/Jobs. The U.S., Statutes at large, treaties and proclamations of the united states of America, vol. 13 (Boston,,1866), pp. 507-9 says, “… such issues of provisions, clothing, and fuel, as he may deem needful for the immediate and temporary shelter and supply of destitute and suffering refugees and freedmen and their wives and children under such rules and regulations as he may direct.” African Americans understood the change of means of American freedom by them enjoying a period where they had the right to vote, participated in the political process, got land from former owners, seek their employment. However, whites in the South believed that the North was determined to destroy their lives giving blacks their freedom. Which made them bitter and scared that they would be degraded by this race. 

Both blacks and whites had different meanings when it came to “American Freedom”. Which resulted in confrontation with one another. The North and the South reunited, abolish slavery, and gave rights to black men; this may sound great achievement; however, these amendments were forgotten in the south. “Mississippi black code, November 1865.” Reading the American Past: Selected Historical Documents Vol. 1: To 1877. 4th ed. Ed. Michael P. Johnson. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 317-320 states, “it is negro exists for the special object of raising cotton, rice, and sugar for the whites, and that it is illegitimate for him to indulge, like other people, in the pursuit of his happiness in his way.” This automatically proved how the South portrayed black people; In 1887, the right to was stripped from black males. The Southern state legislatures passed “black codes” ensuring that freed slaves living was not improve. Wealthy whites used literacy tests meaning they prevented blacks from voting. Even if you were a rich black man you would still get discriminated against just because of your skin color. 

Personally, Reconstruction was not a total success, but it was a step at least a step in the right direction. Laws that were created for African Americans are formally known as the right to vote, and citizenship. Although the south was against everything, this made a huge impact on other groups of people, who may never get the courage to fight for their rights.

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