Reconstruction is the Federal Governments plan(s) to abolish slavery, change the way of life in the South, and to bring the nation back together after the devastating effects of the Civil War. Many Government plans were brought up but never fell through. Likewise, Presidents over the years, after the Civil War, had also brought their own Reconstruction plans to the nation. Several good things came from each plan but not one individual plan had drastically changed America on its own. Although Lincoln and his 10% plan would have reshaped the nation and connected the broken line between the North and South, however, it had never taken action because of Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865. However, Reconstruction created many new social changes to the nation. Civil Rights had been shaped over many years; the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments were passed giving African Americans the right to vote, and the Freedmen’s Bureau was established. Reconstruction was a long and rough time for the government and the people. Our Nation had never before needed to recover from such a tremendous loss from something like the Civil War. Reconstruction had failed in several ways. Slavery had still been practiced in the south under different titles of work, ways of life in the south had remained the same, and Redeemers made sure blacks were not represented in government. Before this particular Reconstruction plan was brought up it had been thought about for awhile by a group of Radical Republicans who created the Radical Republicans’ Plan. These Radicals wanted to spark the necessity to take action on the problems occurring in the South. The plan had consisted of three major ideas; “these ideas were based off of revenge, concern for the freedmen, and political concerns” (Travel and History par. 1). One of the ways that these Radicals wanted revenge was by “punishing the South for causing the war” (Travel and History par.
1). They also felt that “Southern states had to apply for readmission back into the Union and were required to submit state constitutions that ratified the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments (Ohio History Central par. 11). Also when Ulysses S. Grant took office he “kept soldiers in the former Confederacy for the duty of protecting African Americans from the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups (Ohio History Central par. 11). These Radicals felt that “the federal government had a role to play in the transition of freedmen from slavery to freedom” (Travel and History par. 1). They believed that the government needed to aid former slaves into getting good work and treated fairly. Also, many members “wanted to keep the Republicans Party in power in both the North and the South” (Travel and History par. 1). This way only Republican ideas would be brought up and many Republican based laws would be passed. This is the general idea for the Radical Republicans’ plan and would not be brought up again until Ulysses S. Grant is elected into the Presidency. The former Civil War, Union General, Ulysses S. Grant was elected into office in 1868. President Grant did not take much care in his Presidency campaign because he did not care if he had won or lost. Thus, Grant did not have his own plan for the problems of Reconstruction. However, Grant was a Republican and “favored the Radical Republicans’ Plan,” (Ohio History Central par. 11) so most of what he tried to accomplish was based on these views. When Grant won his election many republicans realized that he had won by a small margin of votes. Looking deeper they noticed that “roughly 450,000 African Americans had voted Republican and the majority of whites in the South voted Democrat” (Davidson J. p. 348). Republicans in office realized that an amendment must be created to protect black voting rights so the African American population would continue to vote Republican. The Fifteenth Amendment was created in 1869 and was ratified in 1870; “this forbade any state to deny any man the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (Davidson J. p. 348).
However, many states found loopholes to this amendment by issuing literacy tests, poll taxes, and property requirements for voting. Mainly this counted out most of the African American voting population. Although he his mostly known for his scandals, Grant had many other significant highlights during his time as President that greatly contributed to Reconstruction in the South. During his time in office, “Grant signed a series of Reconstruction related ‘Enforcement Acts’” (Simpson B. par. 6). The main effect these laws had was they “completely denied states to deny any man the right to vote” (Simpson B. par. 6). He had also signed the Ku Klux Klan act which banned the “illegal intimidation” of blacks where states were unwilling or unable to provide protection, and for private parties to conspire to violate civil rights. Violation of this law was a federal crime. Before Grant had left office, “In 1875 he signed last major piece of Civil Rights legislation
until 1964” (Simpson B. par. 6). In 1877, Grant had completed his final term as President. Several years later Grant had been slipping deeper and deeper into debt from family troubles. He started to write his memoirs and later had attracted cancer. After he had finished his memoirs he had died in 1897, from the cancer he had acquired. Luckily his writings had sold more than enough copies to provide and settle his family’s debt. Reconstruction had ended in 1877, and many of Grant’s accomplishments had changed society in the South and for the future. Bibliography
Davidson, James W., and Brian DeLay. U.S. A Narrative History. 1st ed. Vol. 2. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2009. Print . Foner, Eric. Reconstruction America’s unfinished revolution, 1863-1877. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print . “Radical Republican Reconstruction Plan.” Travel and History. Web. 11 Sept. 2009. . “Reconstruction – Ohio History Central – A product of the Ohio Historical Society.” Ohio History Central – An Online Encyclopedia of Ohio History – Ohio Historical Society. Web. 1 Sept. 2009. . Simpson, Brooks D. “Let Us Have Peace: The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.” Teaching American History in Maryland – Documents for the Classroom – Maryland State Archives. Web. 14 Sept. 2009. .