There was a need to repair the country after the Civil war. It was a success, but also could be considered a failure. There were strong differences in opinion the country. The war was officially over as far as the military was concerned, but there had been massive trauma on both sides. The country needed to heal. People wouldn’t get over the losses of loved ones for a long time, if ever. The trauma of warfare surely had them in a state of post-traumatic stress disorder as we would label it today. The Confederate states needed to reunite with the North. Anger and resentment still lingered on both sides.
There were 4 million recently freed people wandering around with no certain path for their future. They were uneducated, roaming aimlessly and in a strange state of limbo. They had been freed by the 13th amendment. The leaders of the country were trying to figuring out what to do. Men who had the most importance in state government started suggesting reconstruction plans. Plans that they felt would be appropriate. Abraham Lincoln’s plan had certain criteria he thought that the Confederate states should have and when that criteria was met they could they rejoin the Union. Officials from higher ranks couldn’t be in an office or handle the rights of voting. They also had to get 10% of their citizens to accept the freeing of the slaves and promise to be stay in the Union.
The plan never went further because he was murdered on April 14th in 1865. Andrew Johnson felt the same as Abraham Lincoln’s reconstruction plan. Men from the Radicals had a different plan. These ‘Radical Republicans”, as they called themselves, wanted to help all the newly freed people. They also felt that the South was responsible for the Civil war and the Radicals were angry.The Radicals didn’t like Andrew Johnson’s plan and evidently others didn’t either since Johnson was impeached in 1868. He did stay in office, but had no say in anything. When it was all said and done, Congress ended up making their own Reconstruction plan. Their plan stated that they would have their military set up camp in each state.
Confederate soldiers were pardoned if the pledged allegiance to the union.They would have to agree to agree that if a man was born in their state then they were a citizen and it would be guaranteed that they would be given all the rights and protections of every other man no matter what color or race and they revised the 14th amendment to make it all official. The blacks voted, the southern states became Republican and by 1871 all the states of the South had rejoined the union. There was an depression and in 1873 Republicans no longer wanted to pay attention to the South as the economic state of the country took precedence. They had basically given up and felt they couldn’t do any more to change their situation.
They then enacted the ‘Civil right act of 1875” which made it unlawful to publicly discriminate. In 1876 there was an election between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B Hayes. The two men were very close in votes and it had to be decided by the electoral ‘commission’ a group formed basically in case of a tie. The Compromise of 1877 was that Hayes, a Republican, would win. The commission had agreed unanimously, but some compromising had to be made. The military had to be taken out of the Southern states and this made the recently freed slaves extremely vulnerable to local and state laws which favored the whites.
The whites made the ‘Black codes’ which made life horrifying for the blacks. Groups terrorized blacks and many blacks died at the hands of the K.K.K. and the Lowrey gang. The Federal laws were there in place, but the military wasn’t there to enforce them. As far as they were concerned the reconstruction, in their opinion, was complete. Was it a success? Was it a failure? A failure at first ,but it’s starting to get better these days. It was exactly that, a compromise and it may be just what Lincoln was suggesting, a slow disintegration of slavery.
It will take a long time for the aftermath of it all to heal and the stigmas to go away.The success was the freedom from a master, but freedom in the New World and fending for themselves was another battle. The laws were made and with every law, some people would inevitably break them. It’s just the way some people are, but at least finally the matter was settled. It did one other thing, it opened the door for women’s rights. We needed reconstruction so as to adjust that 14th and 15th amendment. Suffrage groups needed this for the next success, women’s rights. In my opinion, as a woman, Yes, I think reconstruction was a success.
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