The Reconstruction Era History and Aspects Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

The Reconstruction era began with Lincoln, who pursued the aims of reconstruction (uniting the Northern and Southern states that at the time were still engaged in the civil war and the defending the rights of the black people in the South) with the help of rather moderate tools. They were considered unsuccessful since the first reorganized state (Louisiana, 1864) refused to grant the voting right to the blacks. After the assassination of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson appeared to be ready for a more radical policy, which appealed to the Republicans. However, the new President did not gather the Congress, opting for issuing his own proclamations that granted the amnesty to all the southern people except for those in the position of power or exceptionally rich ones; apart from that, the black were refused the voting rights (1865).

What is more, with time amnesty was also provided to the high-ranked Southern people as well if they “asked nicely”; this meant that the confiscated land was returned to these people and could not be passed to the blacks against the hopes of some radical Republicans. In the meantime “black codes” were adopted in the southern states to control the blacks, and they did not presuppose political equality. The Freedman’s Bureau attempted to provide for the freedmen and the people who got impoverished in the war; the blacks had the chance to work for money or, most often, share wages, on the land where they used to be slaves, but they still had no political rights.

To change this situation, the Congress had to work over Johnson’s vetoes: the Reconstruction acts of 1867 were enacted despite the resistance and derogatory comments of the president. The southern states were divided into military districts; army officers headed there to register voters: that included all the males regardless of their color, aged 21 or older. In order to become reconstructed, a state was expected to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment (that granted civil rights to American people regardless of their color). Later, the Fifteenth Amendment also became a requirement: that one was devoted to the voting rights of people regardless of the color. Gender-based discrimination was not challenged by either.

The nearly successful impeachment of the President made him stop resisting the change. The appearance of Ku Klux Klan and similar terrorist groups served to discredit neo-Confederate purpose, and in 1868, the Republican president General Ulysses S. Grant was elected. That mostly happened due to the black voters as the white tended to vote for the Democrats candidate, Seymour. During President Grant’s administrations, the Ku Klux Klan was suppressed (with the help of three laws aimed at the Amendments’ reinforcement), and major steps towards spreading the education among the blacks were made.

Beginning with 1875, the Reconstruction was retreating when, following the panic of 1873, Democrats won the majority in the House. With the withdrawal of troops from the South in 1877, the era of Reconstruction was ended. The 1877 Compromise made the future of the political rights of the black ended up uncertain to put it mildly. Therefore, the success of the Radical Reconstruction was short-lived.

To sum up, the radicals and Johnson had different views of what reconstruction meant: Johnson attempted to unite the states as fast as possible without being concerned with the rights of the freedmen; the radicals, however, could not agree to accept the Southern states that failed to provide its blacks with education, land, and, above all, political rights. Their Reconstruction turned out to be partially successful: the states did become united; the freedom of the black was reinforced. Still, the economic inequality between the black and the white was stunning, and, after 1977, the political rights of the black could not be guaranteed.

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