Reconstruction Of The Post War South Essay

Reconstruction Of The Post War South Essay

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A splendid failure is a great way to describe Reconstruction. There were many plans for Reconstruction of the post-war South, many of which had grand goals and lofty ideals. However, in the end, political expediency, and squabbling of politicians, won out over altruistic goals. While the aims of reconstruction were high, in reality, it failed so miserably at achieving any that it could be argued that the South was worse off after the war than it was before.
We can being with the biggest goal: freeing the slaves. This was fairly easy. For Northern states, it was a forgone conclusion that they would ratify of the 13th amendment. For Confederate states, it was essentially made a condition of surrender their surrender. If the state’s legislature would ratify the amendment, the state would be readmitted to the Union. Ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves was another matter. The 14th amendment, designed to guarantee citizenship for the former slaves, was easy enough for the Northern states to approve, but the Southern governments rejected it. To ensure ratification, the Reconstruction acts simply replaced governments in the South with military administrations that had the amendment ratified by their pro-Republican legislatures. The rights of freed slaves to participate in elections was then guaranteed by the 15th amendment, while not an aim of Reconstruction, it was necessary to establish equal rights for Black Americans. Essentially, this first goal was a success. Slavery had ended in the Southern states and the former slaves were now “equal” citizens.
However, nothing is quite that simple when we discuss civil rights. While initially, Black Americans enjoyed a voice in politics and representation in government, this all quic...


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...me in the failure to bring the Union together again. The Northern states began to look upon the South the same way that we look upon third-world nations today: a source of cheap goods and labor. Rather than working to uplift the South and remake it the Northern image, many Northerners sent their factories and businesses South to take advantage of cheap labor and hard times in the wake of the war. In addition, forcing unwelcome governments and laws on the South left many bitter and resentful. Rather than working together to great a “New South”, the North essentially shaped the South into what would benefit Northern economies to the fullest. If the goal was to unite the Nation in a new way, where people in the North and South were treated equally, then once again, Reconstruction failed splendidly in accomplishing this or many of the goals for which it aimed to achieve.

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