American History : The Radical Reconstruction Essay

American History : The Radical Reconstruction Essay

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The United States, in regards to liberalism, was not how we know it today. A period of time, ranging from 1865-1877, embarked upon us a series of events that would shape American history eternally: The Radical Reconstruction.

Following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Vice President Andrew Johnson was promoted to President as a result, and Republicans were practically in control of policymaking within Congress. During this critical period of turmoil between the liberal North and restrictive South, Republicans were adamant in achieving certain goals for America, many of which consisted of rights for black people, all of which the democratic South did not want. Johnson, who was not a Radical Republican, made many efforts to eradicate the progress that Lincoln made prior to his death, much of which was vetoed and challenged by the Radical Republican Congress. In hindsight, it would appear as if Johnson and Congress were in a constant back-and-forth with each other, with either side trying to reverse or “one-up” the other with policies and vetoes. This political takeover by Congress, however, is what denoted the commencement of the Radical Reconstruction, or Congressional Reconstruction.

Congress started the assignment of reproduction by passing the First Reconstruction Act, known as the Military Reconstruction Act, that divided the South into five regions to be patrolled by federal troops. Congress announced martial law on the regions and dispatched troops to ensure the safety of freed slaves. This was used as one of the ways to coerce the South into giving into the North’s wishes. Congress pronounced that Southern states were expected to redraft their constitutions, confirm the Fourteenth Amendment, and give suffrage to blacks ...


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...ed the Fifteenth Amendment, allowing every single American male suffrage rights, and required that states that had not yet re-entered the Union to embrace the Amendment in order to gain access to the Union. After this, southern blacks flooded the polls. By the starting 1868, more than 700,000 blacks and poor whites registered to vote, all of them identifying as Republican.

The Reconstruction was an achievement in that it reestablished the United States as a united country. It resulted in almost all states acknowledging the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, drafting new Constitutions, and pledging their allegiance to the country. By 1877, the Reconstruction was over, however, the promises that were made to blacks during this time crumbled under Southern white supremacy, leading to some of the most important Civil Rights movements in American history.

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