Afterthe American Civil War in which attempts were made to solve the economic,social, and political factors arising from the readmission to the Union of theConfederate States that had seceded at or before the outbreak of war. PresidentAbraham Lincoln already started planning before the Reconstruction, he plannedto readmit states with a criterion in which 10% of the voters that had pledgedloyalty to the Union. This lenient approach was opposed by Radical Republicans,who instead favored the measures passed in the Wade-Davis Bill. Andrew Johnsonbecame the President after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. He wanted to keepit simple and easy to restore the local rule. So, he took over and continuedwith the moderate policies of Lincoln, but due to the enactment in the South ofthe black codes and the demand for stricter legislation in the North resultedin victories of Radical Republicans in the congressional elections of 1866.
In 1867, Congress then passed theReconstruction acts, which established military districts in the South andrequired the Southern States to accept the Three Amendments. The federalgovernment outlawed slavery with the 13th Amendment, defined andprotected citizenship for all Americans under the 14th Amendment.Lastly, suffrage was extended to all men slaves under the 15thAmendment. This attempt was a good step for representing Reconstruction as awhole. Apart from that, not much went well.
Fitzgerald summaries Reconstruction”as a contest between those who attempted the doomed, but mostly right thing,and those who were doing the very wrong thing and prevailed. But only for atime” (p. 212). Several factors contributed to the failureof Reconstructions. The main objective was to get the South back on its feet.After the war much of the area had been damaged. There was also the problem offreeing the slaves, which crippled the plantations. One of the major points of Reconstruction wasto make blacks equal citizens in the eyes of the law, as the ReconstructionActs made clear.
However, this really did not happen. As soon as Reconstructionended and the Southern States were allowed to do whatever they want to do, theyimposed segregation on blacks and did all sort of things from preventing themfrom voting. In addition, reconstruction failed to help economically as theFreedman’s Bureau was underfunded and cut short, leaving the vast majority offree slaves uneducated and still in the South.
There was no land reform, hencethe slaves were forced into a crop-sharing system and did not own their own farms,which could have made them more independent and equal. And so, they had tocontinue working on the farms, which was not so much of a difference from howthings had been during slavery unless this time they were paid workers. After Reconstruction was ended in 1877, white peoplein the south used their regained political powers to pass Jim Crow laws, these lawsenforced segregation and took the vote away from the black people whose parentsor grand parents were slaves. The Ku Klux Klan was also formed to keep black peoplefrom having any political and economic power. And all this resulted in the eliminationof the freed slaves newly gained civil liberties and also failed to solve the long-termracial integration.