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A history of the united states in the reconstruction period


The original Northern objective in the Civil War was the preservation of the Union—a war aim with which virtually everybody in the free states agreed. As the fighting progressed, the Lincoln government Origins of Reconstruction The national debate over Reconstruction began during the Civil War.

In December 1863, less than a year after he issued the Emancipation ProclamationPres.

To Lincoln, the plan was an attempt to weaken the Confederacy rather than a blueprint for the postwar South. It was put into operation in parts of the Union-occupied Confederacy, but none of the new governments achieved broad local support.

In 1864 Congress enacted and Lincoln pocket vetoed the Wade-Davis Billwhich proposed to delay the formation of new Southern governments until a majority of voters had taken a loyalty oath. Johnson offered a pardon to all Southern whites except Confederate leaders and wealthy planters although most of these subsequently received individual pardonsrestoring their political rights and all property except slaves.

  1. Thaddeus Stevens, photo by Mathew Brady.
  2. By the time of Lincoln's assassination the President and Congress were at a stalemate. The main focus of the Grant administration was on Reconstruction, and he worked hard to reconcile the differences between the North and South whilst attempting to protect the civil rights of newly freed black slaves.
  3. Senate as the first black senator Reconstruction Era Timeline Fact 38.
  4. As the fighting progressed, the Lincoln government Origins of Reconstruction The national debate over Reconstruction began during the Civil War.

He also outlined how new state governments would be created. Apart from the requirement that they abolish slavery, repudiate secession, and abrogate the Confederate debt, these governments were granted a free hand in managing their affairs. Andrew Johnson, photographed by Mathew Brady. Library of Congress, Washington, D. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Sen. Charles Sumner from Massachusetts called for the establishment of new Southern governments a history of the united states in the reconstruction period on equality before the law and universal male suffrage.

But the more numerous moderate Republicans hoped to work with Johnson while modifying his program. The first extended the life of an agency Congress had created in 1865 to oversee the transition from slavery to freedom. The second defined all persons born in the United States as national citizens, who were to enjoy equality before the law.

Thaddeus Stevens, photo by Mathew Brady. Arguably the most important addition to the Constitution other than the Bill of Rightsthe amendment constituted a profound change in federal-state relations. Congress decided to begin Reconstruction anew.

The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts and outlined how new governments, based on manhood suffrage without regard to race, were to be established. Thus began the period of Radical or Congressional Reconstruction, which lasted until the end of the last Southern Republican governments in 1877. Three groups made up Southern Republicanism. The second large group, scalawagsor native-born white Republicans, included some businessmen and planters, but most were nonslaveholding small farmers from the Southern up-country.

Loyal to the Union during the Civil War, they saw the Republican Party as a means of keeping Confederates from regaining power in the South. In every state, African Americans formed the overwhelming majority of Southern Republican voters. From the beginning of Reconstruction, black conventions and newspapers throughout the South had called for the extension of full civil and political rights to African Americans.

Composed of those who had been free before the Civil War plus slave ministers, artisans, and Civil War veterans, the black political leadership pressed for the elimination of the racial caste system and the economic uplifting of the former slaves. Bruce in the U. Senate—more than 600 in state legislatures, and hundreds more in local offices from sheriff to justice of the peace scattered across the South.

Turner of Alabama, Josiah T. Walls of Florida, and Joseph H. Delarge of South Carolina and Jefferson H.

Bruce, senator from Mississippi.

But the economic program spawned corruption and rising taxes, alienating increasing numbers of white voters. Meanwhile, the social and economic transformation of the South proceeded apace. To blacks, freedom meant independence from white control. Reconstruction provided the opportunity for African Americans to solidify their family ties and to create independent religious institutions, which became centres of community life that survived long after Reconstruction ended. The former slaves also demanded economic independence.

But President Johnson in the summer of 1865 ordered land in federal hands to be returned to its former owners. Lacking land, most former slaves had little economic alternative other than resuming work on plantations owned by whites.

Some worked for wages, others as sharecroppers, who divided the crop with the owner at the end of the year. Neither status offered much hope for economic mobility.

For decades, most Southern blacks remained propertyless and poor. Nonetheless, the political revolution of Reconstruction spawned increasingly violent opposition from white Southerners. White supremacist organizations that committed terrorist acts, such as the Ku Klux Klantargeted local Republican leaders for beatings or assassination. African Americans who asserted their rights in dealings with white employers, teachers, ministers, and others seeking to assist the former slaves also became targets.

At Colfax, Louisiana, in 1873, scores of black militiamen were killed after surrendering to armed whites intent on seizing control of local government. Increasingly, the new Southern governments looked to Washington, D. Depiction of the secret societies that terrorized African Americans during Reconstruction.

By 1869 the Republican Party was firmly in control of all three branches of the federal government.

After attempting to remove Secretary of War Edwin M. Stantonin violation of the new Tenure of Office ActJohnson had been impeached by the House of Representatives in 1868. Grant was elected president that fall see United States presidential election of 1868.

Soon afterward, Congress approved the Fifteenth Amendmentprohibiting states from restricting the right to vote because of race. Then it enacted a series of Enforcement Acts authorizing national action to suppress political violence. In 1871 the administration launched a legal and military offensive that destroyed the Klan. Grant was reelected in 1872 in the most peaceful election of the period. The end of Reconstruction Nonetheless, Reconstruction soon began to wane.

During the 1870s, many Republicans retreated from both the racial egalitarianism and the broad definition of federal power spawned by the Civil War. As Northern Republicans became more conservativeReconstruction came to symbolize a misguided attempt to uplift the lower classes of society. Reflecting the shifting mood, a series of Supreme Court decisions, beginning with the Slaughterhouse Cases in 1873, severely limited the scope of Reconstruction laws and constitutional amendments.

Caught in a Trap, a cartoon from c. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden hinged on disputed returns from these states. Negotiations between Southern political leaders and representatives of Hayes produced a bargain: Hayes would recognize Democratic control of the remaining Southern states, and Democrats would not block the certification of his election by Congress see United States presidential election of 1876.

Hayes was inaugurated; federal troops returned to their barracks; and as an era when the federal government accepted the responsibility for protecting the rights of the former slaves, Reconstruction came to an end. By the turn of the century, a new racial system had been put in place in the South, resting on the disenfranchisement of black voters, a rigid system of racial segregationthe relegation of African Americans to low-wage agricultural and domestic employment, and legal and extralegal violence to punish those who challenged the new order.

Nonetheless, while flagrantly violated, the Reconstruction amendments remained in the Constitution, sleeping giants, as Charles Sumner called them, to be awakened by subsequent generations who sought to redeem the promise of genuine freedom for the descendants of slavery.