Was The Reconstruction A Success Or A Failure

The African American people's lives were drastically changed after slavery and even more for the ones living in the south. They could now start a brand-new life without being threatened by slave owners and therefore needn’t be scared of being punished for any reason. However, their well-being had limits as several slaves lived in poverty when being a slave, they didn’t have the opportunity to have a good education or one at all. Having no education, it was therefore quite complicated for former slaves to find a good-paying job that would fulfill a family’s needs.

However, even if the blacks had become free, conflicts broke out between white supremacists and black freedom protesters. Even if slaves were now officially free and were under no one’s power, there was still a lot of racism taking place and some people thought some jobs were inappropriate for black people. However, during the years the government tried harder and harder to help African American citizens to start a new life after slavery, more precisely by the creation of the freedmen’s bureau which was established to aid former slaves, supervise schools, and open hospitals and other healthcare facilities for the freedmen.

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Furthermore, Republicans wanted to enable blacks to own land in the south and become full citizens, however letting blacks own land would create a social revolution that would change the lives of numerous people. Therefore the main challenges of freedom for African American people were to first calm the conflicts between white supremacists and black freedom protesters, try and not come back to the politics of the past, give former slaves more facilities, and the south trying to prevent blacks to become entirely free and become the equal of a white person.

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So, was the reconstruction a success or a failure?

Based on Document A, we can see that racism is still important even after the thirteenth amendment and that some people still think that they are superior to black people. Indeed, this political cartoon depicts black people as uneducated and not capable of behaving as the sentence at the bottom of the cartoon says “You are aping the lowest Whites. If you disgrace your Race in this way you had better take back seats.” This sentence is telling that black people should not behave this way as they are free now and should therefore behave in a civilized way. We can therefore imagine that this cartoon is meant to deteriorate the image of black people and thereby showing that African American citizens are inferior to whites. Furthermore, even after the thirteenth amendment which states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Some states used African American prisoners to lease them out of prison by letting them work for white farmers who would give them food and housing and pay the former slaves minimum rate. These acts were legal from the point of view of the law. However, some of these prisoners didn’t get paid but the government did and therefore prisoners once again found themselves working for farmers against their will and without getting paid which in a way is a return to slavery. (Becky Little ; 2018, History.com). In addition, one of the challenges to the freedom of African American people was that a numerous amount of conflicts between white supremacists and black freedom protesters erupted and this meant that even if the government stated that black people could now be free, some of the white people couldn’t accept it and therefore use violence to demonstrate how they feel. These riots caused some deaths, which meant that even if African American people were supposed to be free, they were still persecuted and couldn’t live completely safe as there was still a risk because of white people who won’t accept this new law.

Even if African American people were now free, the south was still being very conservative and black people were still not considered completely free. This was one of the challenges of freedom that former slaves needed to fight. However, the Republicans wanted to reconstruct the South by enabling blacks to own land and become full citizens, but even with trying hard to do so, it couldn’t be fully achieved because of the supreme court. Indeed, we can see through document B that even if the government wanted to help the blacks by trying to give back the south to them, the supreme hadn’t had the same opinion and stated that “the government could protect only political and not social rights”. This means that the supreme court thought that the government shouldn’t do more to help the African American people because it was not its duty to help socially. Therefore, the challenge of freedom for African American people was also due to the South which resisted their freedom even if they already had difficulties concerning their freedom such as a lack of money and education. But thanks to the freedmen’s bureau numerous schools opened in the south so that the formers slaves didn’t have to worry anymore about not getting an education and therefore there wouldn’t be after a couple of years money problems for African American people as would now get a higher paying job due to the education.

Lastly, the most important event that happened and that helped to fight these challenges was the Reconstruction which also takes into account the thirteenth amendment. However, there were still two very important amendments that got passed by Congress which are the fourteenth and the fifteenth amendment. The fourteenth amendment was really important as it granted citizenship to all persons born in the US including former slaves. (History.com, Editors; 2019). So, by the law, former slaves were now considered fully American and therefore should be treated equally, however, there would still be some people against this which the government tried to stop. Furthermore, the fifteenth amendment prohibits the government and each state to deny a citizen to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.(History. com; Editors; 2019)This amendment, therefore, does one more step toward making African American people feel more integrated into the country by giving them the same rights as white US citizens. Lastly, an important challenge to freedom for the African American people was the Ku Klux Klan, indeed this organization terrorized the African American people in the South as they killed blacks and burnt down their houses. However, to overcome this challenge, in 1871, the US Congress passed laws that resulted in Klan members being arrested and imprisoned (Khan academy; John Louis Recchiuti; 2016). We can, therefore, see that the government did try to help former slaves to start a new life however there are still challenges that African American people needed to face after the Civil war.

In conclusion, the challenge of freedom for African American people after the Civil war was to fight the racism that was still very present in the South and this could happen with the help of the government. Moreover, a challenge for freedom was to make sure that politics won’t come back to the past meaning fighting for not having back slavery and inequality between blacks and whites. Lastly, an important challenge to freedom for African American people was to ensure that they could have their facilities such as churches and hospitals which should be protected so that no white supremacist could harm the former slaves. To conclude, it can be said that some of these challenges were already starting to be surpassed thanks to the government and black freedom protesters who fought for their rights. It shows, was the reconstruction a success or a failure.

Updated: Feb 18, 2024
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Was The Reconstruction A Success Or A Failure. (2024, Feb 18). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/was-the-reconstruction-a-success-or-a-failure-essay

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