Try to imagine if people were playing tug-of-war with you and then the rope finally snaps and only one side is left happy. This is how the African Americans felt during the Reconstruction Era. Reconstruction went on for a long time then failed and only the Democrats were happy with the result. After the Civil War, African Americans had nowhere to go and were surrounded in a world of controversy. Many plans were made to help dig them out of their current hole but it all caved in and did not work; one plan was the Ten-Percent plan which only allowed states that seceded back into the United States if ten percent of their voters pledged an allegiance to the Union. Another plan was to give every African American family forty acres and a mule, but that plan never actually took place. Reconstruction took 12 entire years, and even over 12 years it failed. Reconstruction failed to gain equal rights for African Americans for a variety of reasons, Democratic strength, unequal citizenship and just racism against African Americans in general.
Over the time of the Reconstruction era, the Democrats gained massive strength within the government, which is one reason why reconstruction failed to have equal rights for the African Americans. One reason Reconstruction failed is that the north was too easy on the south and let them back into the government too easily via the Amnesty Act, which gave the Confederate states a bigger say in the government (doc 3). Since most Democrats were from the Confederate states they want slavery to continue so Reconstruction failed because they were a big influence against African Americans gaining equal rights to the whites. Another reason that reconstruction failed is how the Democrats dominated the Republicans, these headlines prove it, “Democratic Victory or The Republican Defeat.” (doc 5). Also once they were in the government they controlled it and most things went their way. With the Democrats in power the Republicans couldn’t help the freedman just like what unequal citizenship did to them. Reconstruction also failed to gain equal rights within the United States because of the unequal citizenship that even came from African Americans themselves. The African Americans were so stressed by the economic pressure that they had to focus on themselves and their families not the government; Dr. W.E.B. DuBois says, “Negroes who wanted to work must not dabble in politics” (doc 6). This evidence helps to show how reconstruction failed for the Freedmen gaining equal rights because they explain how it looked and how hard it was from a freedmen’s point of view they had to focus on taking care of themselves, not working for equal rights. They also didn’t know what else to do besides being a slave because that was how they were born and taught how to live. A freedman named John McCoy was told by his former owner that he could go because he was free or he could stay and he would feed and shelter him; this is almost exactly like slavery just not as harsh (doc 7). This evidence explains how freedman were confused and were not used to doing anything besides what their masters say, so they are used to not having to do much thinking. Since they didn’t have to do much thinking they are used to not making decisions so it was hard for them to vote, make money and just be respected by most Confederate whites from day to day. Although these reasons about unequal citizenship between Whites and Blacks are how it looked from the surface, under the evident surface, there was still racism from a couple of different people and groups. Racism was another way of showing how Reconstruction failed to gain equal rights because it kept the freedmen from voting and fighting for their rights. One person who was racist against African Americans was a man named Benjamin Boyer and he stated, “……