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Reconstruction Essay

1009 words - 5 pages

When the Civil War ended a period known as Reconstruction began, lasting from 1865 to 1877. The main goals of Reconstruction included reunifying the Southern states into the union, rebuilding the South’s declined economy, and promoting the rights freed slaves now possessed. Despite the intentions for Reconstruction though, it was generally considered a failure. Reconstruction was an overall failure that resulted from Andrew Johnson’s presidency, the Black Codes, sharecropping, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. This period of rebuilding following the Civil War remained a time of great tension, pain and unending questions.
One main reason Reconstruction was a failure is because of Andrew Johnson’s presidency. After the death of Abraham Lincoln, his vice president, Andrew Johnson assumed presidency. While his plan for Reconstruction was similar to Lincolns, he merely worsened the process of Reconstruction altogether. He was very racist and would openly speak negatively about African Americans. He also belonged to the Democratic political party of the South, which was the opposing political party of congress. Johnson undermined any efforts congress made to benefit freed African Americans by vetoing laws. One main bill Johnson vetoed was known as the Freedmen’s Bureau. This bureau was intended to provide necessities like food, clothes, and education to African Americans and whites in the South. The Freedmen’s Bureau Schools also taught them a variety of skills including how to find a job. However, he vetoed the Bureau with no consideration for African Americans. Johnson did not support the reconciliation of freed African Americans and Southern white men. He instead supported the discrimination of freed slaves and a government that limited them. He imposed many restrictions on African Americans and gave the states the right to limit their privileges. This included their privilege to vote and other benefits that might threaten white Southerners. This allowed him to restore the power and status of the Southern states but more specifically to white men.
Looking closely at all of the events during Reconstruction, the Black codes are a good example of why Reconstruction was a failure too. African Americans now faced a new obstacle of discrimination during Reconstruction. Under President Andrew Johnson, white Southerners reestablished their status within the South while attempting to limit the freedoms African Americans now had. Because Johnson gave power to the states, all Southern states began enacting the black codes. These codes were intended to severely restrict African Americans and any rights their new freedoms allowed them. Southerners used violence as a way of enforcing the black codes on African Americans regardless of their rights as freed men. These codes also limited the jobs African Americans could hold to just the labor force. This included labor in the fields and servants on the plantations. These occupations revealed that slavery...

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