Reconstruction Essay, Research Paper
February 15, 2000
Why Reconstruction failed
The reconstruction of the south was the period during and after the Civil War where several different groups in the government tried to solve the economic, political, and social problems that arose as a result of the Civil War. It was a time of disorder and chaos. Southern whites rejected all forms of equality and blacks wanted nothing but full freedom and land of their own. This led to frequent and inevitable riots. Reconstruction lasted from 1865 to 1877 and was one of the most controversial periods in the nation’s
history. People still debate its successes and failures.
Many people blames Reconstruction failure on black politics, calling it “Negro government.” Even some newspapers that were in favor of Reconstruction blamed the black legislatures. Foner wrote, “Ironically, even as racism waned as an explicit component of the Northern Democratic appeal, it gained a hold on respectable Republican opinion, as a convenient explanation for Reconstruction’s failure.” Black politicians could have been the demise of Reconstruction.
Another cause of Reconstruction could have been the Court’s intervention. Foner stated, “Previously, the Court had proved reluctant to intervene in Reconstruction controversies. The Compromise of 1877 between the Republicans and Democrats, occurring in January of that year, was the solution to the contested Presidential election of 1876 and furthermore brought an end to the period of Reconstruction following the Civil War.
The banks could have also caused the failure of Reconstruction to speed up. The Freedman’s Savings Bank went under with no money to pay its depositors. The bank held thousands of black’s (Freedman) money. “In June 1874, with only $31,000 on hand to cover obligations to its 61,000 depositors, the Freedman’s Savings Bank suspended operations.”
One of the main reasons for the failure of Reconstruction was the dropped prices of crops. Many farmers and sharecroppers could not live off what they earned. The depression caused the price of cotton to nearly drop by 50%. Many of the main crops such as: tobacco, rice, and sugar also declined. “The depression disrupted commerce, bankrupted merchants, seriously undermined the economic situation or artisans, and all but eliminated prospects for social mobility among unskilled laborers of both races.”
Reconstruction failure reflects on the people of America. Presidential Reconstruction under Lincoln and Johnson demonstrates the difficulties inherent in reshaping the South after the Civil War. The lack of northern vision concerning the postwar South, disputes between Congress and the Presidency over lines of authority, and the unwillingness of southern whites to allow blacks any significant power in southern society were main reasons that Reconstruction failed.
Even though Reconstruction failed, at least we tried but some people have to learn how to change. Reconstruction changed the way of life for blacks. Some changes were good and some changes made life difficult, but overall the blacks made it out of slavery safely. Reconstruction was the original beginning of the Civil Rights Act. The fact that African-Americans had made it so far gave them the strength to keep going and fight for what they believe in.