Reconstruction Reconstruction, the period after the Civil War when the South was reorganized and reintegrated into the Union (www.Dictionary.com.) It was done to fix the United States problems after he succession of the South. The United States needed to bring the South back into the country on equal footing. Reconstruction gave African Americans many rights with the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments. However, reconstruction was a failure because a lack of political focus on the effort failed to solve the sectional wounds, and the elimination of the freed slaves’ newly gained civil liberties failed to bring about long-term racial integration.
Reconstruction was a failure because the Union needed to integrate the South on equal terms, invigorate its economy and rebuild its landscape however, disagreements in the government over Reconstruction made it impossible to succeed in reaching these these objectives. President Abraham Lincoln proposed the “10% plan”, which offered a forgiving path for southern states to rejoin the Union, this is because President Lincoln did not want to be harsh against the South. However, President Lincoln was unfortunately assassinated and Andrew Johnson became president. President Johnson began his own Reconstruction plan, a series of proclamations directing the seceded states to hold conventions and elections to re-form their civil governments. From one plan went to another making it even harder for the South to rejoin the Union successfully.
Even though Presidents Johnson’s plan initially worked, the former confederates eventually made their way into the government. The former confederates were able to get elected to the United States Congress. However the Congress, which was controlled by the Republicans, refused to seat the Southerners.
In addition, “even the Republican Party itself was divided” (“LitPick / Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews.” LitPick/Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews, www.flamingnet.com/reconstruction.php.) The radical republicans also wanted more reforms than Johnson was offering.
At the same time, radical republicans wanted a drastic change, wishing to “remake the South to the image of the North.” (History.com Staff. “Reconstruction.
” www.History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009.) These tensions within the Republican Party, and President Johnson supporting the south, led to very little progress occuring and even the impeachment against Andrew Johnson. The disputes between parties in the North diverted the Union from real progress and did not help bring the Union back together once more.
On the other hand, other argue that reconstruction was a success because it gave blacks many rights with the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. African Americans were freed from slavery during reconstruction with the thirteenth amendment and gained more rights with the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. Black Americans earned many political and civil freedoms, including suffrage and equal protection under the law, during Reconstruction from these amendments (Tunes, History. “Learn American History through 50 pop songs.” History Tunes: 13th 14th and 15th Amendments, www.historytunes.
com.) However, even though these were great advancements they were simply overshadowed by the rise of the white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and black codes. The combination of the KKK and black codes began to intimidate freed slaves and stopped them from using their civil liberties.
According to www.georgiaencyclopedia.org, “The Klan’s goals included the political defeat of the Republican Party and the maintenance of absolute white supremacy in response to newly gained civil and political rights by southern blacks after the Civil War.” The Klan lead many attacks on blacks and political leaders that wanted to help African Americans. Their attacks were meant to intimidate blacks voters and white supporters of the Republican party and their attacks worked.
Additionally, History.com states, “Black churches and schools were burned, teachers were attacked, and freedpeople who refused to show proper deference were beaten and killed.” The KKK terrorized blacks and repressed them making it nearly impossible for them to exercise their rights. In addition,sharecropping put many blacks into positions of indebtedness, which were similar to the dependence of slavery. All in all, reconstruction was done to fix the Union however, it failed to do so.
It did not successfully integrate the South back into the Union. Also, it failed to integrate freed blacks into society and let white supremacists deny the rights that the government did give to blacks.