The Southern States Were In Political And Economic Ruins After The Civil War.

695 words - 3 pages

Discuss the reality of the reconstructed south with special reference to the situation of the freed slaves in that part of the countryThe Southern states were in political and economic ruins after the civil war. Severaldifficult decades of reconstructing the south lay ahead. In the short term, theFederal and state governments needed to plan for the adoption of new state constitutions,new land policies, and rights of suffrage. The reform of the constitution and land policiesproved much easier to accomplish than those of racial attitudes and justice.The story of reconstruction is actually a story of the tension between increasingthe rights of freedmen and unchanged racism of Southerners and Northerners alike.Tension also developed between the so-called radical reconstructionists, whosought a complete overhaul of Southern society in the image of the North, and themoderates, who urged reconciliation and the cession of reconstruction responsibilities toSouthern states.Reconstructionists discovered that efforts to expand suffrage rights to the newly freedslaves could easily run aground. With the abolition of slavery, the "three-fifths clause" inthe Constitution effectively became null and void, since blacks were now counted aswhole citizens. This change meant that the South might actually gain power in Congress,since their proportionate representation would be based on a large population. To helpcounterbalance this gain, President Johnson proposed extending the vote to literateblacks worth at least 250 dollars. Southern states rejected the idea, and blacks remaineddeprived of their political rights.Racist opposition to the expanding role of African-Americans in society also took theform of "black codes." Following emancipation, Southern legislature undertook thebusiness of determining the status of freedmen in society; as the legislators operatedunder certain obligations, not all of the black codes were oppressive. Some laws extendedto freedmen legal protections such as recognized marriages, the right to own and sellproperty, and the ability to enter into contractual relationships.However, in most cases the black codes also prohibited African-Americans from servingon juries and providing legal testimony. In addition, the codes outlawed interracialmarriage and created segregated public facilities. Harsher aspects of the codes includedvagrancy laws, under which...

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