The death of Abe Lincoln proved harmful to the nation because the Congress and Johnson were not able to agree on a reconstruction plan and they had different opinions. The emancipation of slaves was a major milestone in the history of the United States, but it caused more problems than solutions in the beginning of reconstruction. In Congress it was obvious that if there were no laws governing the treatment of blacks, especially in the South, the blacks would be in danger of potential conflict and subjected to harm. The passing of the 14th amendment in Congress showed that the country was trying to protect their citizens. However, just because of the new amendment it was not going to be taken seriously by citizens because they did not change their beliefs.
Nevertheless, many eligible black citizens were prevented from voting; especially in the Southern states of America. Long-standing Southern congressmen exploited their authority to halt legislation that would help blacks. The power of the state governments allowed the continuation of white supremacy and discrimination; the state governments controlled education, transportation and law enforcement. As a result, enfranchisement did not bring greater equality to the black community in America. However, external events such as the two World Wars and the Great Depression encouraged greater equality between blacks and whites.
The government also failed to help stabilize the economy for the South, and the political situation was filled with distrust and corruption. During the Reconstruction period in the South, the government also did little to help the social situation in the South. When the South joined the Union, they began to put in place laws that would restrict the rights of the newly freed slaves in most of the Southern states. These laws were called the Black Codes. Some of the laws in the Black Codes stated that the newly freed slaves were not allowed to talk freely, bear arms or gather for meetings.
These state laws varied in strictness and detail from state to state; they abased the status of the freedmen by regulating their activities and treating them as social and civil inferiors. Generally black codes were not beneficial, because the supposedly freedmen were treated little more than slaves. "Furthermore, to define the status of freed men and women and control their labor, some legislatures merely revised large sections of the slave codes by substituting the word freedmen for slave." (pg. 448 Nortan) Congress would not stand for such injustice.
Johnson then once again gave the Southern states freedom to run their state governments. People believed that Johnson was ignoring the former slaves’ rights. This became more and more evident, as the Black Codes began to form in the South. These were the many laws confining the African Americans to what some thought to be slavery except in name. In 1865, when Johnson declared reconstruction to be over, many Republicans, appalled at this, took action by refusing to seat Southerners that had recently been elected into Congress.
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.
Since African American were kept out of society for more than 200 years, it was hard for whites to accepted blacks as equal people. Southern states passed the Black Codes, which restricted African Americans freedom. The point of the codes was to reduce influence of free blacks which were granted some rights during the Presidential Reconstruction, to prevent them from voting, bearing arms, be together to worship and learning to read and write. They also imposed restrictions on black citizenship to be able to still control labor of blacks. Another factor which made it harder for freed slaves to enter the society was the Ku Klux Klan organization, which can be described as “Original American Terrorist Organizations”.
Indeed the North did win the Civil war with many of their advantages but the lives lost to help the African Americans gain freedom all went in vain. All the Northern efforts to gain a “new birth of freedom” went in useless. This was all due the Southerns, who passed laws and bills to limit African Americans’ freedom and the right of voting. This included the Black Codes, the Poll Taxes, the Literacy Tests, the Grandfather Clause, and the Jim Crow Laws, which stated, “separate but equal”. By the 1880s, the South had defeated the weakened Northern effort to help and African American and had re-enslaved the African American.
Jim Crow Laws were an extreme obstacle in the integration of African Americans. Hate Groups were another attempt to restrain blacks from integrating into society. Although the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments were designed to provide freedom for the slaves, they were still denied their freedom by specific obstacles. Although the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, whites kept their supremacy by finding legal ways to control blacks. Many white Southerners were not in favor of the 13th Amendment so many Southern states enforced Black Codes, which basically returned blacks to slavery without calling it slavery.
This left many free slaves stuck in the southern states. “Republican politicians who defended emancipation did so with racist arguments. Far from encouraging southern blacks to move north, they claimed, the ending of slavery would lead to a mass migration of northern blacks to the south”. This highlights the continuing issues of racism and discrimination not just in the south but in the north as well. These are some key issues that started at America 's birth as a country, and grew into a bloody conflict, and continued throughout the reconstruction period.