Title: Failure of Reconstruction
Successes of the Reconstruction:New state constitutions allowed all Southern men to vote Replaced many appointed government positions with elected positionsStimulated industrial and rail development in the South through loans, grants, and tax exemptions
New Southern governments directed mostly by transplanted Northern Republicans, African Americans, and Southern moderates created public schools and orphanages
However, Reconstruction ultimately failed.State governments were seen as ineffective. There was widespread poverty and lack of land reform for African Americans. Many who participated in Reconstruction were corrupt, selling their votes for money and favors.Although government industrialization plans helped rebuild the Southern economy, these plans cost a lot of money.High tax rates turned public opinion, already antagonistic to Reconstruction, even more hostile.
Believing that giving away planters land to former slaves was too extreme, Congress passed the Southern Homestead Act.This law set aside 45 million acres of government-owned land to provide free farms.The failure of Congress to provide 40 acres and a mule resulted in a new economic dependency on their former mastersThe sharecropping system developedThe employer provided the land, tools, seedbasically everything but the labor. If able, some switched to tenant farming, renting the land they farmed from the landowner.Land ownership usually consolidated into huge holdings and concentrated on one cash crop, usually cottonAfrican American signed work contracts with white landowners to toil under the lash, as if slavery still existed
13 year old boy sharecropping
Opponents waged a propaganda war against Reconstruction:Southerners who cooperated were called scalawags Many were farmers who never owned slavesNortherners who ran the programs carpetbaggersThe name came from the suitcases they carried, implying they had come to the South merely to stuff their bags with will-gotten wealth
Accompanying the propaganda war was a war of intimidation, spearheaded by the Ku Klux Klan.The Klan targeted those who supported Reconstruction; it attacked and often murdered scalawags, black and white Republican leaders, community activists, and teachersThe Klan successfully intimidated many of its opponents, preventing a more complete implementation of Reconstruction
Because Reconstruction did nothing to redistribute the Souths wealth or guarantee that the freedmen would own property, it did very little to alter the basic power structure of the regionSoutherners knew that when the Northerners left things would return to a condition much closer to the way they were before ReconstructionThe New South was becoming industrial, but in many ways it remained the same. White southerners deeply resented that the federal government controlled their states.
Worse, throughout the 1860s and 1870s, the Supreme Court consistently restricted the scope of the 14th and 15th AmendmentsIn United States v. Reese, the court legalized grandfather clauses, poll taxes, property requirements, and other restrictions on voting privilegesSoon nearly all Southern states had restrictive laws that effectively prevented African Americans from votingIn the Slaughter-House case, the court ruled that the 14th Amendment applied only to the federal government, not to state governments, an opinion the court strengthened in United States v. Cruikshank
Finally, because Grants administration was so thoroughly corrupt, it tainted everything with which it was associated, including Reconstruction
During the 1872 election, moderates calling themselves Liberal Republicans abandoned the coalition that supported Reconstruction.Angered by widespread corruption, this group hoped to end federal control of the SouthAlthough their candidate, Horace Greeley, did not defeat Grant, they made gains in congressional and state elections.
Several congressional acts, among them the Amnesty Act of 1872, pardoned many of the rebels, thus allowing them to reenter public lifeOther crises, such as the financial Panic of 1873, drew the nations attention away from ReconstructionBy 1876, Southern Democrats regained control of most of the regions state legislatures.
The election of 1876 was extremely close, with the vote in several states contested on charges of fraudThe election demonstrated the split between the North & SouthWith the Compromise of 1877, Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops in the South, and in return, Rutherford B. Hayes became president
For a century after Reconstruction ended, the South was known as the Solid South, always voting Democratic. It was not until the 1970s that the Republican Party was able to gain ground in the South.
The Reconstruction brought many changes, including the regions first public school systems.
The infrastructure was repaired, facilities built, and railroads added. Facilities were open to all southerners, but were usually segregated by race.
Picture: Senator Hiram R. Revels and Representatives Benjamin S. Turner, Josiah T. Walls, Joseph H. Rainey, Robert Brown Elliot, Robert D. De Large, and Jefferson H. Long. African Americans in government: Forming the largest group of Republican voters in the South, nearly 700 African Americans served in southern state legislatures during Reconstruction. They included Hiram Revels, who took the Senate seat held by Jefferson Davis before the war.
The fact that blacks were serving in Southern governments represented a huge step forward, given the seemingly insurmountable restrictions placed on blacks only a few years earlierLife after Slavery for African Americans: Freedom meant a variety of things, including reuniting with family and the search for employment. Some moved west or north, but most stayed in the South. Freedmen were taking the lead to improve themselves and gain control of their lives.The Black Codes were repealed in every state. The changes angered those formerly in control, and some freedmen felt more needed to be done to help them obtain land.Most eagerly sought education and began to establish their own institutions, including churches and schools. The churches became centers of community life. A wide variety of other organizations were created, including debate clubs, drama societies, trade associations, fire companies, and mutual aid societies.Former white plantation owners would hire former slaves to work the land in exchange for food, clothing, housing and a small bit of pay.
In terms of the power structure, the laborer was subjected to the demands of the sharecropper until he paid all debts in full.
This relationship was further skewered by the landowners ability to "rent" out his laborers if s/he felt it would yield larger profits. Scalawags: Scalawag was the name given to southerners who supported the shift in power to Congress and the army. Many were farmers who had never owned slaves. Some joined the Republicans to prevent the planter class from returning to power; others were southerners ruined by the war; still others wanted to end the dependence on plantation agriculture.
Carpetbaggers: The scalawags allied with carpetbaggers, northerners who came south to take part in the regions political and economic rebirth. Scorned as low-class persons who could carry their belongings in a carpetbag, many were educated and came from a variety of backgrounds. Many bought abandoned land cheaply or formed partnerships with planters.
Terrorist Groups: Reconstruction brought violent opposition throughout the South. The KKK and similar organizations wanted to restore the old political order. Their methods included threats, house burnings, and killings against not only blacks but whites as well. State governments were unable to control violence.
The Ku Klux Klan formed in 1866 and soon began terrorizing African Americans and whites who were loyal to the Union. Violence against blacks was rarely prosecuted. Local sheriffs and Civil War veterans supported and enforced these laws. White citizens formed private groups, supposedly to keep order in the South.Southern cities grew rapidly. Atlanta and other cities became business centers, with textile mills and other manufacturing ventures being built. Workers still earned lower wages in the South, and many were locked in a cycle of debt.
Three Supreme Court decisions seriously weakened the goals and operations of Reconstruction. The Slaughterhouse Cases, United States v. Cruikshank, and United States v. Reese served to limit the impact of the 14th and 15th Amendments.
In US v. Reese: A Kentucky electoral official had refused to register an AfricanAmerican's vote in a municipal election The Court held that the Fifteenth Amendment did not confer the right of suffrage but prohibited exclusion on racial grounds.
The Cruikshank case dealt with the Colfax Massacre, an incident in which an armed mob of whites attacked and killed over one hundred blacks in Colfax, Louisiana. The ringleaders were put on trial and convicted under the Enforcement Act of 1870, legislation similar to modern legislation making it a crime to interfere with constitutional rights. The Supreme Court found the indictment faulty. The Cruikshank court held that the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses apply only to state action, and not to actions of individuals. Lost faith: Costly building programs raised taxes and put state governments in debt.Liberal Republicans helped the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives.Economic factors came into play, with the depression that began in 1873 taking more attention.
Northerners were dismayed that the army was still