The Failure of Southern Civil War Reconstruction
The time of Reconstruction for the South was wrought with many conflicting factors, which ultimately brought about the end, and noted failure, of the plan. Opposing elements in the political realm, coupled with economic hardships following the war, and the attempt to redesign the entire social structure of the South slowly but assuredly destroyed the plan of Reconstruction.
Although the original design of the plan seem plausible, as things progressed, it became more and more evident that the problems of the South were not being solved by severe laws and continuing malevolence against previous Confederates. In May 1872, Congress passed a comprehensive Amnesty Act, restoring full governmental rights to all but about 500 Confederate supporters.
Progressively Southern states began electing members of the Democratic Party into office, displacing thus termed “carpetbagger” governments and scaring blacks from voting or striving to hold public office often through the use of fear tactics. By 1876 the Republicans continued in power in just three Southern states. As a piece of the negotiation that determined the disputed presidential elections that year in preference of Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republicans pledged to terminate Radical Reconstruction, thereby allowing practically all of the control of the South to the Democratic Party. In 1877 Hayes removed the remaining government military, virtually forsaking federal accountability for ensuring blacks' civil rights.
The South was still a region shattered by warfare, impeded by a deficit caused by a mediocre administration, and depraved by a decade of racial fighting. Unfortunately, the battle of domestic racial policy moved from one stance to another. Forasmuch as it had maintained severe punishments against Southern white leaders, it now sanctioned increased and degrading types of discrimination toward blacks. The end of the 19th century brought about an abundance of Jim Crow laws in Southern states that divided public schools, referred to as “segregation”, prohibited or restricted black admittance to many civic facilities, such as centers, lodging and dining facilities, and refused most blacks the privilege to vote by creating poll taxes and autocratic reading tests.
Slaves were granted their liberty, but not equalization. The North utterly neglected to meet the financial necessity of the freedmen. Attempts including the Freedmen's Bureau proved insufficient to the despondent necessities of prior slaves for organizations that could prepare them with bureaucratic and financial opportunity, or merely safeguard them from brutality and terrorizing. Certainly, national Army officers and representatives of the Freedmen's Bureau were oftentimes racists themselves. Blacks were reliant on these Northern whites to defend them from white Southerners, who, assembled into societies such as the Ku Klux Klan, terrorized blacks and prohibited them from being able to use their new-found rights. Lacking economic means of their own, many Southern blacks were bound to become shareholder farmers on property possessed by their previous masters, stuck in a succession of deficiency that would carry through far into the 20th century, and some argue still strongly exists today.
Reconstruction-era administration did make veritable gains in renovating Southern states damaged by the warfare, and in broadening public services, mostly in implementing governmentally-funded, public education for blacks and whites. Nevertheless, rebellious Southerners took advantage of cases of venality and capitalize on them to bring defeat to radical political systems.
As one can see, many factors both political and economic, as well as the need on behalf of the Southerners to rebuke social change, brought about the failure of the Reconstruction. This failure meant that the endeavor of African Americans for equality and liberty was prolonged until the 20th century. Although even with the leaps made during the 20th century, political, economic and social change are slow to come and still call to us in the 21st century.
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