Essay on Southern Reconstruction

Submitted By overlordjay
Words: 699
Pages: 3

After the Civil War the land and people of the South were devastated. The farms that had not been burned to the ground from Sherman's March or sold to Northern businesses and friends of the Governors had no one to work them. The slave labour was freed and some farmers were in too deep of debt to hire workers. Infrastructures such as bridges, railroads, mills, and major cities were destroyed. The southern Democrats had no representation in Congress and were ruled by Radical Republicans bent on revenge. Reconstruction was needed to rebuild the hurt society and ruined land damaged by war.

The Reconstruction Plan had good intentions. The African-Americans received rights and were freed through the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. In the Fourteenth Amendment the states were denied the right to deprive anyone of life, liberty, and justice. Congress was given the power to enforce the amendments, a state would receive a smaller representation if African-Americans were denied the right to vote, and anyone born into the US was a citizen. The Fifteenth Amendment gave African-Americans the right to vote. The Freedmen's Bureau of 1865 gave poverty-stricken African-Americans and some Whites, food, shelter, education, healthcare, and employment contracts. Other successes were public works projects, a funded public school system, and women were allowed to hold property and own property.

Although there were successes the failures of the Plan were great. Congress and President Jackson clashed severely on how to treat the South after the Civil War. Johnson was from Tennessee and felt that the South should be dealt with more kindly. He gave out over 13000 Pardons and wanted to restore Confederate leaders back into their places of power. Congress was not pleased with his ideas and wanted a more harsh punishment for the South. Congress overrode many of Johnson's vetoes and passed Reconstruction Acts. The Radical Republicans, who held the most seats in Congress, greatly despised Johnson and went so far as to impeach him for violating the Tenure of Office Act. President Johnson was impeached but was not convicted.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 gave African-Americans citizenship and outlawed the Black Codes. However, it was mostly ignored by the South and the North did little to enforce it. Southern Whites rejected equality by segregating the schools, creating poll taxes and literacy tests so only wealthy educated whites could vote, made the Grandfather Clause which made it possible to bypass the poll tax and literacy test if their Grandfather voted before 1867. Nathan Bedford Forrest started a social group in 1866 named the Ku Klux Klan. It was mainly just a secret group by Confederate veterans. As the club grew in numbers and spread across the south like…