The Republicans pushed through the Civil Rights Laws, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and military occupation of the South. The Southern states were in strong opposition to this and Johnson tried to go around Congress, but failed and he was impeached, though not convicted. Most of the country supported the Republicans and they remained in control throughout Reconstruction, with Grant defeating Johnson in the election of 1868. Most Southern whites felt threatened by this legislation which gave African Americans their rights and were opposed to military occupation. As a result, they lashed out against the African Americans. White Leagues were established throughout the South denouncing the Civil Rights laws using violence against former slaves. With organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, many African Americans were assaulted and murdered without any real reason – there was no pattern to the violence; it was just random acts intended to frighten and control the African Americans.
White Southerners wanted to keep the African Americans under their control. They believed in White Supremacy and felt that only they really knew how to deal with the African Americans and the fate of the freed people should be left up to the South. The Southerners felt that they knew what was best for the African Americans and that they should be in charge of their lives. They felt the African Americans were happy being peaceful laborers with all their needs provided for by whites and that trying to turn them into self reliant citizens would have devastating consequences for the Southern economy. The African Americans were not considered as their equals and should therefore not be given their same rights as whites – they would never be the intellectual or social equal of the whites. Because of this, they saw the future for African Americans as one controlled by whites.
Black Southerners, obviously, felt just the opposite. They were ready to take their stand next to whites as their equals and wanted to have all the same rights