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North or South: Who Killed Reconstruction Essay

“…the slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery” (W.E.B. Dubois). After the Civil War ended in 1865, Reconstruction began. All slaves were finally freed because of the 13th amendment. Other amendments were passed such as: the 14th amendment which gave black Americans citizenship and the 15th amendment had made it illegal to deny someone the right to vote based on race. To enforce these new laws, northerners went south to help Freedmen and Reconstruction; these people are also known as carpetbaggers. Many people resisted in the South, so it was difficult to carry out the new ideas of Reconstruction. Rebuilding the United States was not an easy task because it soon ended in 1877. Reconstruction is the process of rebuilding or reorganizing of something. Both the North and South contributed to the end of Reconstruction; but southern resistance did the most to end it.

Northern neglect was one of the reasons that had ended Reconstruction. “Weary of the ‘Negro Question’ and ‘sick of carpet-bag’ government… North began to turn against Reconstruction policies” (Littell). The North grew tired of trying to get the South to help Freedmen. In an article called The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901, by Heather Cox Richardson, she wrote about how blacks were uncivilized people. They assumed it would take time for ‘them’ to learn the methods of the white people. Northerners started to focus on their own concerns such as the Panic of 1873, which was the loss of millions of jobs; even the president turned away from the problems of Reconstruction.

Southern resistance also, had a big impact on the end of Reconstruction. In a letter, a man named Albion Tourgee wrote about the Ku Klux Klan’s actions in the south. Tourgee served as a judge in North Carolina and he believed the Klan was after carpetbaggers, such as Tourgee himself. The KKK is made up of many ordinary people; lawyers, doctors, and farmers. They threatened and killed anybody who supported Freedmen and Reconstruction. They even intimidated people as they voted. In a picture found in Harper’s Weekly in 1876, it showed white southerners forcing a black American to vote for the Democratic Party. Whites who did not support Reconstruction ensured not to permit Reconstruction in the south.

Southern resistance was what had caused the end of Reconstruction in 1877. They threatened Freedmen, Carpetbaggers, Scalawags, and Radical Republicans. The South resisted so much; the North could not support Reconstruction any longer. The KKK was constantly killing people who favored Reconstruction, and the North was losing hope. The Klan wanted to end Reconstruction and stop African-Americans from joining the white society. They killed people in public to show they would not back down, and the resistance from these people made Reconstruction a struggling task.


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