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Throughout the past few weeks, we have read through chapters sixteen, seventeen, twenty-two, and twenty-four. In the midst of these various chapter, we have read and gulf deeper into was the term Reconstruction meant in our history. How is affected America before and after certain events and circumstances? In this paper, we will reflect on the history of Reconstruction in America and the involvement of the Industrial Revolution.
To start the Reconstruction era we learned took place from the year of 1865 until 1877.
This was an era where political leaders wrestled with ways to bring the Confederate states back into the so-called Union. Those political leaders were also having to think about the best ways to help former slaves make the ground-shaking transition from a life of bondage to a new life of citizenship. These were years that were labeled in history as turbulent. These were years were we witnessed a complex of debate. The debate about the role of the federal government in ensuring those things we know as civil rights.
This was a time where some northerners agreed that they wanted the former confederate states to be returned to the Union, and to do so with little or no changes in their economic, political and social life. While on the other hand, others called for former confederate political and military leaders to be executed and imprisoned. These same ones called for the South to be rebuilt in the image of the rest of the nation.
With that, I want to reflect on the significance of reconstruction.
We read in chapter sixteen that the governments of the southern states were the ones to quickly renew what they called long-standing patterns of discrimination against African Americans. But with that the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments would therefore remain enshrined in the Constitution. This would mean it created the so-called essential constitution foundation for many future advances in the area of civil rights for America.
However, with reconstruction came various challenges. These challenges we read about were seen with the defeat of the Confederacy. They were also seen with the passage of the thirteenth amendment. We learned that the federal government would therefore have to develop policies and various procedures to infact answer numerous tricky questions. These questions for the federal government were ones referring to the defeated states. The question was asked, “What was the stats of the defeated states and how would they be reintegrated into the nation’s political life?” Another question asked to the federal government we read about stated, “What would be the political status of the former slaves and what would the federal government do to integrate them into the nation’s social and economic fabric?” These were all high-end questions that came with the plan and thought of REconstruction. All things that were important and questions that the federal government had to ponder on and look for answers and plans to put in place to in fact solve these questions and problems.
With the various challenges of reconstruction came other events that played a role into the way of reconstruction. Leaders, played a huge role in reconstruction, the view and plan of reconstruction and how it would affect America. We continued to learn more about what leaders did and how they impacted the realm of Reconstruction in America. Abraham Lincoln and his fellow successor, also a southerner, Andrew Johnson both agreed on wanting a lenient plan for Reconstruction. The Freedmen’s Bureau was another piece of history that was put in place during this time that affected Reconstruction. This was something that helped educated and aid freed slaves, negotiate various labor contracts and reunite families.
Following came a game-changer for America and the realm of Reconstruction and that was Lincoln’s assassination. This event led many northerners to favor the Radical Republicans, these would be the group of people that wanted to end the grasp of the old plantation elite on the South’s society and its economy. When this spread, the white resisted. They established what we read about called “black codes”. These were to restrict the freedom of those former slaves. This is when we see congressional reconstruction take the forefront. They were the ones that responded by stipulating that former confederate states would be the ones that had to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the US Constitution. They said this would be to protect the rights of African Americans. At and around this time the Congress also passed what we know as the Military Reconstruction Act. This was something in history that used federal troops to enforce voting along with the civil rights of African Americans.
With many of these new plans and Acts in place it made the many former slaves be able to find comfort in the families. They also found comfort in their churches that many of them had established themselves. But on the other end of that comfort was their land ownership. This had reverted to the old white elite. This reduced newly freed black to sharecropping. In this time period though, african americans enthusiastically were participating in politics. Many of them were serving as elected officials. They were serving right up there and alongside those southern republicans, also known as scalawags and the northern carpetbaggers. The various people and leaders were working towards rebuilding the southern economy. However, this meant a little something different for Reconstruction. We learn that many white southerners were supporting the Ku Klux Klan, and their violent intimidation of the supporters of Reconstruction. They were “pursuing” redemption. They were also after white democratic control of southern state governments.
Moving forward we learn about more scandals and events that play a part of the political and economic developments of reconstruction. There were scandals during the Grant administration that we learn involved as attempt to corner the gold market. There was also a scandal revolving around the “whiskey rings”, and how they planned to steal millions of dollars in their tax revenue. With that, in the face of these various troubles and economic downturns that were said to be caused by the Panic of 1873 along with the disagreement over whether they would continue the use of greenbacks. Or if they would return to the gold standard. To go alongside these things, the southern white redeemers were elected in the year of 1874. They were able to successfully reverse the political progress of republicans and blacks. In the compromise of 1877 the democrats agreed to the election of republican rutherford B. Hayes. Who was the one to put an end to the radical republicans administrations in the various southern states.
Although the Reconstruction era we learned about throughout these chapters only lasted a short twelve years, we learn that it was one of the most significant periods in U.S history. We reflected and learned that the center of the debate was over how to best restore the Union. With this era came questions such as Who is deserving of citizenship and what does that entail? What rights should all Americans enjoy? What role should the federal government play in ensuring freedom and equality? These are all questions that are still shaping American lives nearly 150 years later.
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