Faliure Of Reconstruction Essay

1426 words - 6 pages

The Failure of Reconstruction: A reluctance toward equality.Reconstruction was the effort of rebuilding the South based on free labor instead of slave labor. The issue to Northern politicians was how? At the end of the Civil War, Congress proposed the Thirteenth Amendment, which sought to prohibit slavery. A state was not to gain readmittance into the Union until it ratified the Amendment, but some states such as Mississippi were admitted despite failing to ratify. The Amendment became a part of the Constitution in December, 1865.The Era of Reconstruction following the Civil War was a period marked by an intense struggle to restore a worn-out and devastated society. The war, which was aimed at confronting the national problem of slavery, only led to subsequent dilemmas over emancipation and an undefined condition of freedom. Some had unpretentiously believed that ending slavery would solve the problem of racial inequality, overlooking the prejudice and bleak atmosphere towards blacks. Questions over how to reinstate a disloyal population with the fall of the Confederacy and restore a destroyed southern territory rang throughout the nation. Although the former slaves were undeniably freed, the foundations for a racial democracy were laid, and the country was once again united, overall, Reconstruction was a period of political strife, shortcomings, and general failure. After the war, the South was left in a state of complete turmoil. Passing armies had shattered the South's agricultural economy with the burning of buildings, destroying of crops, and killing of livestock. Southern industry was also badly hurt, as assets needed to support loans were lost in the war.More importantly, the South, for the first time ever, was without an easy profit economy based on slavery. Racial prejudice was as strong as ever and many white southerners, with a feeling of superiority found it difficult to adjust to the new way of life. To the dismay of many freedmen, President Johnson returned to whites the plantations that the Union Army had given to blacks during the war. Many freedmen were forced to endure sharecropping in which they rented land from white planters and relinquished a portion of their harvest. As a result, poor farmers were gradually pushed into extreme debt and became victims of a burdensome tenancy. The black codes passed by the legislators of Southern states also suppressed blacks. Although the codes allowed for minor legal rights, they also were geared to place blacks in an inferior position. Interracial marriage was prohibited. In some areas freemen needed special licenses to engage in specific trades and in others they were denied certain lands for farming. The South was left in economic ruin filled with racial discrimination. With the South in a state of desperation it was clear that the federal government needed to take action. However, how to do so was greatly debated.Much of the failings of Reconstruction were a result of the opposing views...

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