Reconstruction 18651877 Essay Research Paper Reconstruction was

Reconstruction 1865-1877 Essay, Research Paper

Reconstruction was the period after the Civil War in which many

changes were undergone in the north and the south in order to restore the

union. The south had suffered the destruction of their factories, railroads, the

now worthless Confederate money, and mainly their slave-worked farms.

The north suffered mainly from the political turmoil that was left in the

aftermath of the war. There were four phases of reconstruction consisting of

Lincoln s Phase, Johnson s Phase, the Radical Republican Phase, and the

Final Phase.

While Lincoln did not live long enough to actually go through

reconstruction, he lived only five days after the war, he was the one who

started it. Lincoln s Emancipation Proclamation was the beginning of

Reconstruction in the U.S. The Emancipation Proclamation freed all of the

slaves in the Confederate States still in rebellion but did not free those of the

border states. The Proclamation did not actually free the slaves in the south,

as there was no way Lincoln could do this without military force, but it did

help strengthen the moral of the troops in the Union army by giving them

something better to fight for. On the other hand, some Union troops that did

not want to fight a war over slavery left the Union Army and refused to

fight. Lincoln had more plans that just to free the slaves. During the war

Lincoln had expanded his presidency. With his power he hoped to set up

loyal governments in the Southern states that were under Union control.

Lincoln appointed new temporary governors and instructed each to call a

convention to create a new state government as soon as a group of the state s

citizen totaling 10 percent of the voters in the 1860 presidential election had

signed oaths of loyalty to the Union. Under this plan new governments were

formed in Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas but the Congress refused to

recognize them. Republicans in Congress did not want a quick restoration,

for the reason that it would bring Democratic representatives and senators to

Washington, and in 1864 Congress passed the Wade-Davis Reconstruction

Bill. This bill would have delayed the process of rejoining the Union until 50

percent of the people took an oath of loyalty but Lincoln pocket vetoed the

bill. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just as the South surrendered in

April 1865, and then Andrew Johnson inherited the problem of


Johnson was just the right person who didn t need to be president at

this critical time. He was a southerner with mixed views and the south

did not trust him. Also the Republican Congress did not like the southern

democrat. Johnson required that the new states ratify the 13th Amendment

freeing the slaves, abolish slavery in their own constitutions, discard debts

incurred while in rebellion, and declare secession null and void. States that

accepted these conditions would be readmitted. The Radical Republicans

thought otherwise.

The Radical Republicans in Congress thought they should control

Reconstruction and wished to punish the South for causing the Civil War.

Some of these Republicans wished to create a Southern society where blacks

and whites were equal. These Republicans opposed the Southern Black

Codes, which were harsh laws passed against freed slaves to force them to

go back to working the land so the former masters could once again be in

control. In response to the Black Codes, the Radical Republicans

established the Freedman s Bureau to help former slaves get an education

and do more that just farm. Also the Radical Republicans required the

passage of the Civil Rights Bill and the fourteenth amendment. Only

Tennessee ratified the 14th amendment and was allowed to rejoin the Union.

The remaining ten Confederate states were occupied by United States troops.

The states were slowly readmitted back into the Union after each state

was deemed Reconstructed. Passage of the fifteenth amendment was

mandatory for the last four states to re-enter. In the South, during the

Reconstruction period the new state governments were dominated by

scalawags, who were Southern whites who supported Reconstruction and

who used political power chiefly for political gain, and carpetbaggers who

were Northerners who went to the South after the Civil War and entered

politics for personal gain. At the end of the Reconstruction period, Southern

Democrats were gradually regaining control, and by 1877 when all the

troops were removed, the whites had almost total control again. Restrictions

were put on blacks political rights and eventually laws were passed that

discriminated against blacks, called Jim Crow Laws . In my opinion,

Reconstruction was a failure. The Blacks were never treated as equals and

the whites were allowed to regain control of the south after Reconstruction.

It took an extra 80 years before blacks were treated as equals, and even then

it s not always true. Reconstruction is still going on today and in my

opinion, will still be going on for at least another half a century


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