February 19, 2014
Reconstruction of a Nation
Wars have large consequences and radical reform, but it took some time after the Civil
War to get reconstruction started in the South. Obviously, many problems arose after the war, like the assassination of President Lincoln, but there was not very strong government action taking place in the south. If reconstruction is promised to the black community that didn’t have certain rights and chances before, then everything should be done to grant those promises, and not overlook it. I will be discussing the mindsets of white southerners and about the degrading of blacks that occurs in the testimonies of the Klu Klux Klan, letter from Jourdan Anderson, and the Black Codes of Mississippi. I will also show the absence of the Reconstruction methods, like voting rights and new opportunities for blacks, which were to be put into place after the Civil War.
The letter from Jourdan Anderson is such an incredible piece that will be treasured by future generations trying to understand the mindsets of southerners during such a crucial time in history. The words used by Mr. Anderson are perfectly put together to show his former slave master exactly how he feels about him. The old master does not know any better when it comes to consulting his former slave. The master grew up where he was always above blacks, so when he sends his letter to his former slave, he believes in his mind he is being courteous to give his former slave a job. This letter just further explains how difficult it was for reconstruction in the South, because whites could not understand the mindset that blacks had the same rights and opportunities as whites do. The letter offers a sense of exposure to his master of the events that happened while Mr. Anderson and his family worked for him. Mr. Anderson wants to make his old master understand the rights and privileges he has now, so the power his master once had on him will never happen again. Mr. Anderson brilliantly says, “As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864…”1 The South’s economy was destroyed after the Civil War, but white southerners still believed that they were superior to everyone else. Reconstruction efforts failed in the South early on, the South had lost the war but they did not lose much when it came to reconstruction. Blacks might have new freedom, but that did not stop others from still causing them trouble and giving them a rough time. Mr. Anderson’s letter could have opened the eyes of his old master, and let his master know that blacks are not controlled anymore, but have their own chance in the world to become who they want to be.
The Ku Klux Klan is an extremely well known organization in the south that protected the Constitution how they saw it, and nothing or no one was going to stop them from doing that. The court testimonies, explaining certain actions and crimes committed by those in the Klan, are so blunt, with no emotion tied to any of the crimes committed. As stated in the testimony “the one who had his foot on my body mashed me badly, but not as badly as he might have done, for I was seven or eight months in travail”2. The Klan did not care about who you were, or your family, the cared about showing white supremacy and power over the blacks as many of their ancestors did in the past. Radical reconstruction is pretty difficult to do when you have such racial discrimination and problems that occur because of race. The Ku Klux Klan is just one of the many organizations that caused problems in the south, and only made it harder for blacks to be treated like equals, as they should be. What are laws made for if you aren’t able to enforce them? So much work and many lives were sacrificed to try and give equal freedom to the people that deserve it, but that hard work and lost lives were passed over to come right back to the start. These