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Essay On Reconstruction After The American Civil War

873 words - 3 pages

An Assessment of ReconstructionDuring the period of American Reconstruction, which went from 1863 to 1877, the nation healed itself from the devastating Civil War it had experienced. Following the abolishment of slavery and the destruction of the Confederate States of America, the statuses of the rebel states and its officials as well as the newly freed blacks needed to be clarified. The government passed laws and made efforts to improve the nation, but it basically reverted to its pre-Civil War status quo at the end of the period; there were no immediate or drastic changes.The government did not have a lot of power at this time and was very inefficient. Lincoln's reconstruction plan was only approved by ten percent of the voters and he rejected Congress's reconstruction suggestion, the Wade-Davis Bill. After Lincoln's assassination, President Johnson's proposal turned out to be fairly lenient on the Confederate officials, allowing them to regain their offices if they took an oath and received a pardon from the president. This upset radical Republicans because they wanted more punishment for the rebels and more laws to benefit the freedmen.The few accomplishments that were made during Reconstruction, moved the nation towards equality for all races in the long run, but freedmen were still treated extremely unjustly at this period in time. The 13th amendment definitively abolished slavery and freed all the blacks. This new freedom was very different for blacks. Unlike before, they could assemble, participate in government, establish schools, churches, etc. Blacks began to develop their own community--something their former owners had not permitted them to do. Unfortunately, the window of opportunities was not open for long. After a few years, the whites got back in the game and forced the freedmen back into oppression.The blacks were soon oppressed again for one reason: the United States was a racist nation and no Emancipation Proclamation or 13th Amendment could change that overnight. Congress passed the 14th amendment in 1868, which denied the states the power to deprive its citizens of their privileges and immunities. While this amendment protects the privileges and immunities of oppressed minorities today, it was of little use during the Reconstruction period. In the Slaughterhouse cases of 1873, small business butchers argued that the State regulated slaughterhouse deprived them of their privilege to earn money. The Supreme Court ruled that the amendment only protected the "privileges and immunities" of national citizenship, not state citizenship. This strict ruling, though not specifically involving blacks, was devastating to their rights in the immediate future. By giving the state...

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