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Reconstruction

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Many people had different views and ideas about Reconstruction. There was much debate about how the Confederate states, which included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, should be readmitted into the Union. Some people believed that the states should be treated as territories, and others believed that the southern leaders should be punished instead of the states. Still, others believed that the South still belonged to the Union because secession was illegal. During the Civil War, on December 1863, President Lincoln announced his 10 % Plan for Reconstruction. Many Northerners considered it to be too mild, but the blacks condemned it for ignoring saying nothing about civil rights fir the freedmen and ignoring black suffrage. Lincoln’s plan was never carried out because he was assassinated less than one week after the Civil War. However, while Lincoln was president, a national debate developed over whether Congress or the President should establish the Reconstruction policy.

Andrew Johnson, who became President of the U.S. in 1865, had his own Reconstruction plan, but it turned out to be unsuccessful largely because of the unfair ways in which blacks were treated. According to his plan, pardons would be offered to all southern whites except wealthy Confederate supporters and the main Confederate leaders. Conventions were to be held by the defeated southern states and new state governments were to be formed. These new governments had to make a vow of loyalty to the nation and abolish slavery in order to rejoin the Union. However, this plan did not offer the blacks a role in this process; he left the responsibility of determining the black people’s roles to the southern states. Under his plan, new state governments were organized throughout the South during the summer and fall of 1865. These states governments passed a series of laws known as the Black Codes. These codes allowed employees to whip black workers, allowed states to jail unemployed blacks and to hire out their children, and forced blacks to sign labor contracts that required them to work a job for a full year. The Republicans in Congress believed that Johnson’s plan was a failure, not only because of the Black Codes that were passed, but because when Congress reassembled in December of 1865, numerous newly ele...

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The Reconstruction did have some good effects. Some examples of its positive effects are that it restored the Union, started the rebuilding of the South, and public schools were established in the south that had a lasting importance on the region. However, the many negative effects of this era outweigh the positive effects. It failed to solve the economic problems of either the blacks or the South as a whole. Few blacks acquired land and so lacked the economic independence that it provided. Most blacks continued to pick cotton land that was owned by whites, the same labor they had performed as slaves. The South remained the poorest, most backward section of the country. In politics, Reconstruction made most southern whites firm supporters of the Democratic party and created what was known as the “Solid South”. For more than 40 years after Reconstruction, no Republican Presidential candidate received a majority of votes in any southern states. Reconstruction failed to bring racial harmony to the South. Whites refused to share important political power with blacks. In turn, blacks set up their own churches and other institutions rather than attempting to join white society.
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