Reconstruction After Civil War Essay

After the victory of the union after the Civil War, many things had changed. The fact that the War was over was good news but it left the United States with a new set of problems that were no less challenging than the Civil War itself.

The four most important challenges were how the south would rebuild its shattered society and economy after the damage inflicted by the four years of war? , What would be the place in that society of 4 million freed blacks and to what extent was the federal government responsible for helping them to adjust to freedom? Should the confederacy be treated as states that had never really left the union or as conquered territory subjected to continued military occupation? , and last but not least who had the authority to decide these questions of reconstruction: was it the president or the congress? In addition to that the conflicts between the regional sections, political parties, and economic interests continued beyond the war. For example, republicans in the North wanted to continue the economic progress begun during the war. Meanwhile the south aristocracy still needed cheap labor force to work its plantations.

The poeple just received one problem after another. The victory of the union after the Civil War had given about 4 millions of slaves their freedom. Being freed from slavery was great and all, however the process of rebuilding the south proved to be a significant challenge. Abraham lincoln started planning for the reconstruction of the south during the Civil War as the union soldiers occupied large areas of the south. President Lincoln’s goal was to bring the nation back as quickly as possible. In December 1863 he offered his plan of reconstruction and this plan required that the State’s new constitutions prohibit slavery.

Later on after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson came to power. Even though lincoln had left his plans and policies to be carried out by the … Andrew Johnson did no such thing. Instead he briefly continued Lincoln’s and on May 1865 he announced his own plans of reconstruction which included a vow of loyalty to the Nation and the abolition of slavery that southern states were required to take before they could be readmitted to the nation. Johnson’s plans of reconstruction were fairly similar to that of Lincoln’s. There were many parts involved in Johnson’s plan.

The first part is the southern governments of 1865. Just eight months after Johnson took office, all 11 of the ex-Confederate states qualified under the president’s reconstruction plan to become functioning parts of the Union. According to John. M SCHMALBACH the southern states drew up constitutions that repudiated secession, negated the debts of the confederate government, and ratified the thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. Furthermore, former leaders of the confederacy were elected to seats in the Congress. For example Alexander Stephens, former confederate vice president, was elected U. S. senator from Georgia.

The second part of this plan were Black Codes. The republicans became very disappointed with Johnson when the southern state legislatures adopted the Black Codes that restricted the rights and movements of newly freed African Americans. These codes limited the so called freedom that the African Americans gained after the war. The codes prohibited blacks from either renting land or borrowing money to buy land. Freedman were placed into a form of semiondage y forcing them as “vagrants” and apprentices to sign work contracts. On top of that blacks were prohibited from testifying against whites in court.

Meanwhile other states quickly adopted their own versions of the codes, some of which were so restricted that they resembled the old system of slavery such as forced labor for various offenses( Reconstruction Era, 2002). Later on Johnson alienated even moderate republicans in the early 1886, and he vetoed two important bills. The first bill was for increasing the services and protection offered by the Freedman’s Bureau and the second bill was a civil rights bill that nullified the black codes and guaranteed full citizenship and equal rights to blacks.

There were three rounds of Reconstruction. The first round that took place in the (spring of 1863 1866) was directed by Lincoln and Johnson. They brought the 11 ex-Confederate state to its former position in the Union. However, after this achievement there came the congressional reaction towards the Reconstruction being done by the presidents. In the second round the Congress imposed upon the south its own version of reconstruction. The Congress adopted a plan that was harsher on the whites more protective towards freed blacks.

The Presidential Reconstruction began around spring of 1866 and it was then that Congress had trouble to enact two pieces of the legislation vetoed by president Johnson. Fortunately for the Congress Republicans were able to override Johnson’s veto over the Civil Rights Act and the Freedmen’s Bureau Act. The Civil Rights Act announced all African Americans to be U. S. Citizens and was also a shield for the blacks against the southern state’s Black Codes. Late in 1866 sent and passed the Fourteenth Amendment and it was ratified in 1868. This amendment had both immediate and long term importance for all segments of American society.

The fourteenth Amendment declared that all persons born or naturalized in the U. S. were citizens and it also obligated the states to respect the rights of U. S. citizens and provide them with “equal protection of the laws”. During the second round of Reconstruction, directed by the Congress, the Republican party in the south reorganized and dominated the governments of the ex-Confederate states. And on history. com it states that in the beginning of 1867, each Republican-controlled government was under the military protection of the U. S.

Army until such time as Congress was satisfied that s state had met its Reconstruction requirements. Then the troops had withdrawn. According to John. M. SCHMALBACH the period of Republican rule in a southern state lasted from as little as one year (Tennessee) to as much as nine years (Florida), depending on how long it took conservative Democrats to regain control. The end of Reconstruction began during president Ulysses Grant’s second term. As stated in the AP U. S History book, throughout his second term it appeared that Reconstruction had entered a new phase, which was the third and final round.

By the end of 1877 redeemers, southern conservatives took control of one state government after another. In addition to that they reduced taxes, reduced spending on social programs, and white supremacy. Throughout the process of Reconstruction the people in the South had very different opinions and point of views compared to that of the people in the North. For starters, the Southerners were not very fond of this Reconstruction plan created by the president. They tried very hard to hold on to the old days, which were the days before the Civil War.

The reason for this was because they feared of what the freed Africans Americans after being held in bondages. According to Tim Talbott the white southerners pondered over many questions like would the freedmen work to make a living? , will they steal and kill to survive? , or Would these former slaves become the whites’ political masters in areas with black majority populations? Any talk or printing of abolitionist or anti-slavery talk was suppressed by violence and intimidation. This was done mainly because their was dread concern that the South would turn into

Haitian Revolution north without slavery as the social controlling factor for almost 4 million African American slaves. The southerners believed that the north was out to destroy their economy. Meanwhile some northerners did not like the plan because they had to help the south pay for their debts. These southerners were the same people who put them through hell. So there were fairly reasonable amount of people in the north who weren’t very happy with the Reconstruction plan. On the other hand there were people in the North who were content with the Reconstruction plan considering that they were finally free.

To add to that they were also able to become U. S. citizens and were finally granted the same privileges as the whites. In my opinion the Reconstruction plan constructed by Lincoln and Johnson was brilliant. Through this plan they were able to abolish slavery, and declared that everyone should be treated equally. What i really admired about this plan was the way it supported the African Americans in order for them to gain a normal life after treated like domestic animals. In the end the Reconstruction plan benefited the people in the north, specifically African Americans, than the people in the south.