Friday, February 8, 2008

Reconstruction

Reconstruction
What issues (both short and long term) need to be addressed?
What other issues do you assume exist?
Who is capable of and responsible for addressing them?
What are the priorities of reconstruction? Who decides what the priorities are?
Who or what is expendable or can be sacrificed in this process?
How can you measure the efficacy or success of the recovery plan?

43 comments:

ian said...

During Reconstruction, issues that needed to be addressed included ending of the tension between North and South as well as discovering their differences and bring the two regions back together. Other issues included fixing the ravished South and ending Slavery.
Other issues that existed included racism. Despite slavery's abolishment, people still showed hatred towards blacks. The priorities of this Reconstruction were to mend the country's war torn wounds. Do you think this is enough though? A true reconstruction would've been one that changed the minds of people and tried to eliminate racism.
As great as this would've been, do you think it really would've been possible for a reconstruction to do something as drastic as alter the thinking of everyone in this country? Could you say that in this light, Civil War reconstruction still continues today?

Mac said...

As Ian said, the main issues that should be addressed during the reconstruction are the fact that there is a rising fued between the North and the South. The gap between the two regions is getting larger as the ideas on either side are becoming more and more radical.
The reconstrustion should also address the fact the South still have slaves even though Lincoln is trying to stop it.
It is the governments job to address the problems that arise about reconstruction because it was the governments fault that the nation is so divided after the Civil War.

schager said...

mac, the "feud" is over with the surrender at appomatox in 1865, no? when is the divide as bad as it could be? once reconstruction starts, what are the issues to be addressed - political, economic, social? you see the creation of a freedman's bureau as well as the 13, 14 & 15 amendments; what is/isn't accomplished by this? what are the key components? how do you allow southerners to rejoin the union? how do you reconcile the needs of the two sides and how are the issues that caused the rift dealt with?

Scott said...

Concerning the priorities of reconstruction: it is important to remember that in the first few years of reconstruction Andrew Johnson was calling the shots from the oval office. This man was, shall we say, not exactly the stuff great presidents are made of.

When the south seceded, he (a senator from Tennessee) was the only southern legislator to remain in congress. He became Lincoln’s vice president solely because he balanced Lincoln’s ticket by placating the copperheads who wanted a negotiated peace with the south. He was a man who, and this comes from a respectable source (Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin) not Wikipedia, showed up drunk at his own inauguration and slurred the words of his oath of office, and otherwise had nothing to do with the Government until the death of Lincoln.

Furthermore, he was strongly opposed to the views of the Radical wing of the Republican Party, which was responsible for his election on Lincoln’s coattails. Johnson wanted to leave the south alone and let them impose de facto slavery on the ex-slaves; the radical republicans wanted full racial equality in the south and lasting “punishment” of the southern states for seceding. This resulted in what might politely be termed a “conflict of interest” which resulted in the most vetoes of legislation to date as well as the most overrides of presidential vetoes to date. Eventually, congress tried (and came within a hair of succeeding) to impeach him.

In sum, there was no clear Federal policy or priorities on the ground until the election of Ulysses S. Grant. It was arguably this Federal schizophrenia that allowed the Southern States to institute Black Codes etc. and deprive the freedmen of the rights which the radical republicans wanted them to have.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ali said...

One of the long term issues of reconstruction that needs to be addressed is the lack of societal support systems that should have been put in place to make African-Americans true citizens. The North put in place many formal laws and regulations that stated that they were no longer slaves and were free citizens and also had troops in the South for a while to protect the blacks, but there werent any intangible support such as educational systems or jobs given to the blacks for good pay and career advancement. After treating the blacks literally as slaves for such a long time, there was no effort to build up their self confidence and self esteem to make them feel like equal citizens. The blacks had to still rely heavily on the whites for daily necessities, like when they were slaves: "Blacks remained dependent on privileged whites for work, for the necessities of life, and his vote could be bought or taken away by threat of force" (Zinn Chapter 9). Why even go through all the efforts of setting blacks free 'on paper' while the reality was that they remained subservient and inferiorly treated by whites. For example, the KKK existed and brutalized the black community with it's illegal activities, including murder. In the 1960s, blacks finally received true equal treatment through the civil rights movement that included societal support such as Brown vs. Board of Education that addressed the educational system. During reconstruction, the formalities were in place but the effectiveness of the systems didn't fully happen until about 100 years later.

Josh said...

slavery. slavery and racism is one of the biggest things that needs to be addressed in reconstruction. that was a big issue in the civil war; people were getting arrested for bringing slaves into the north and a whole bunch of stuff. also taxes is a big issue that needs to be addressed. for example, georgia, they felt real bad because they were part of the original thirteen colonies and as cameron said in class, they literally shed blood for their country to get the freedom that they got. they felt like they were being cheated because the more industrial jobs and stuff from the north were getting tax breaks and the peopl in the south werent. so basically equality and slavery slash racism were the biggest things that needed to be addressed. some other issues that i would assume existed were the western states, and what would happen with them with the south seceeding and all. and also, what would happen to the slaves if they get freed or if they actually become human beings. lincoln and the leaders of the south would definetly be responsible for bring these issues up and working on them, seeing that these were issues between the north and the whole country, mostly the union.

PimpMasterFlex said...

I really believe that an important aspect to completely reconstruct the south in order to have it remain loyal forever would be to make sure the government becomes stable and no corruption arises that goes unchecked. I also think the loyalty needs to be restored to keep the peace. Lincoln was on the right track with the 10 percent plan but I don't think having 10 percent of voters sign a meaningless document will be that effective. So whether it is helping the south in all ways for whatever they need or making absolutely sure they have all means to come out of reconstruction in great shape, they must feel like the north has not abandoned them such as they did pre-war. If the south feels equal then a major contributor to the war has been wiped out.

Evan said...

I think an important piece of Reconstruction is the issue of equality and trust between the North and the South. The southern states lost all of their wealth after the Civil War, while the North thrived through their industrial work. They also received minimal help from the dominating North and government. For example, in 1865 the US, "spent $103,294,501 on public works, but the South received only $9,469,363" (Zinn Chapter 9). They also received zero subsidization on the transcontinental railroad, while the North received $83 million. A wide gap of funds and attention was given between the two areas, which was only increased after the repeal of the first act between the North and South after the civil war, the Homestead Act. "[It] had reserved all federal lands-one-third of the area of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi-for farmers who would work the land, [yet] was repealed" (Zinn Chapter 9). Clearly ties between the North and South were still shaky after the war, so a primary goal to ensure the success of the Reconstruction would be to strengthen the relationship between the North and the South. Especially important would be instilling trust in the South. Cooperation of both the North and the government for their own economic rebuilding must be assured, hopefully leading to a successful Reconstruction of the entire nation.

Lexa said...

In response to Scott's comment that, "there was no clear Federal policy or priorities on the ground until the election of Ulysses S. Grant," I think that from the start of the Civil War the main priority was not to end slavery, but rather to reunite the Union and the Confederacy. As Zinn says, the president wanted to "retain the enormous national territory and market and resources" (Zinn Chapter 9), which of course is in reference to the South. Lincoln's priority to rejoin the North and South is also evident in his issuing of the Ten-Percent Plan. He was so desperate to make amends with the South, that all he had them do was get 10% of the voting population to sign a loyalty pledge, which as someone said in a previous post would not be an effective way to assimilate the entire South back into the Union.

Although there were amendments abolishing slavery, giving blacks rights, and giving blacks citizenship, these acts were clearly not the priority of Reconstruction because they were not sustained from the beginning of Reconstruction to the beginning of the 20th century. However, if this is true, it can also be argued that bringing back the South into the Union was not a main priority. Like Evan said in his response, it was shown that most Southern states were gypped of the Federal funds necessary to rebuild their state.

So, if reuniting the North and South was considered the priority of the government during Reconstruction, why did the government deprive the South of what they needed to rebuild themselves? And judging from history after Reconstruction, does it seem like the South and North are truly reunited? If there is still a division, what continues to keep the region separated after Reconstruction?

mike said...

as much as it kills me to say it, Zinn's overall theme about American politics has an ounce of truth to it; even the most gigantic of revolutions inevitably leaves America right back to where it began.

the fact of the matter is that very little had changed in the aftermath of the civil war. slavery ruled the south for hundreds of years, and 600 thousand deaths later it was replaced by the virtually identical institution of sharecropping. in this situation, blacks were forced by their economic desperation to enter into extremely disadvantageous sharecrop agreements that generally left them permanently in debt to the landowner. the impending debt forced them to work on the farm for their entire lives for no restitution, relying on the food and shelter provided by the landowner. slavery or not, blacks were still at the mercy of shifty southern landowners. at this rate, the only thing being reconstructed was slavery.

solutions? i think ian is on the right track. you can tell southerners to adopt new laws all you want, but laws don't change people's minds. and at the end of the day, change is only going to occur if you can convince a slave-owning bigot to pay his former slaves money that he doesnt have.

i think the best course of action was to focus relief funds almost exclusively to the south, primarily in an effort to build a public education system. if you can educate the next generation, than hopefully the south's ignorance about issues like slavery would disappear. you need to change the minds of southerners on a grand scale, and what better way than with public education.

Has the southern mentality really been changed? did the reconstruction successfully integrate southerners into a northerners state of mind?

Noah said...

As Mike said, you can throw as many laws at people as you want but regardless it's not going to change their ideals. Salvery was slowly being abloshished during reconstruction, and was officially done so in 1865 in the Emancipation Proclamation, however blacks weren't truely free until Brown vs Board of Ed in 1954 when separate but equal was deemed unlawful and unconstitutional. This simply illustrates that reconstruction couldn't be 100% successful until those affected are willing to undergo change.

Noah said...

(doesn't count as my second post)

How did reconstruction affect the later perception of blacks in America? Did reconstruction affect the later treatment of blacks over the preceding years?

Casey said...

I think that Ali’s identification of the cause of failure regarding the reconstruction period for African Americans as being because of “the lack of societal support systems that should have been put in place to make African-Americans true citizens” brings up a very interesting point about the effectiveness, in reality, of political changes in relation to social treatment and the way in which American live their day to day lives.
Zinn says that “the Constitutional amendments were passed, the laws for racial equality were passed, and the black man began to vote and to hold office. Cut so long as the Negro remained dependent on privileged whites for work, for the necessities of life, his vote could be bought or taken away by threat of force. Thus, laws calling for equal treatment became meaningless.” If Constitutional amendments proved to be ineffective and meaningless it makes you wonder how much power a government can have in changing the minds and mentalities of the people, if any at all.
While the government can pass laws and amendments all day long, as they did pass “a number of laws in the late 1860s and early 1870s in the same spirit-laws making it a crime to deprive Negroes of their rights” significance and real social change can only come when these laws are whole heartedly accepted by the people.
To enforce these new laws the African-American community put a large emphasis on the importance of education, for they thought it would be most influential. In the short period after the war was over they created mixed race public schooling, “form[ed] their own churches, became politically active and try[ed] to educate their children.”
While all of this was good and there is no doubt that it helped the African-Americans place in society, these educational efforts were not brought on by the government, they were brought on by the people. The citizens had to take it upon themselves to better their race suggesting that government can only go so far.

Annie said...

It seems that just about everyone agrees that reconstruction was extremely ineffective. My question is, did reconstruction happen at all? Why do we feel so obligated to define the years between 1865 and 1877 as "reconstruction," because the government has defined it thus? To me, reconstruction means forming a society in which prior views and practices are abandoned and new systems are implemented. Therefore, we must compare the time prior to the Civil War to the years 1865-77, not to determine if reconstruction was successful (I think everyone before me has proven it was not), but to decide if any sort of true reconstruction took place.

Before the Civil War, the Constitution's vague wording was creating dissent. The Constitution states that, "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" Jefferson upheld this clause when the federal government was trying to make a federal bank, something not delegated in the Constitution, and, therefore, something it had no right to do. Jefferson also used this clause as precedence to lessen his allegiance to the federal government in writing the Kentucky Resolutions. However, in 1803, he reverses the interpretation of the clause. He goes ahead and buys a huge piece of territory in the Louisiana Purchase, simply because the constituion does not say he can't. Clearly spinning the Constitution in one's own favor is the trend.

Before the Civil War, there is obviously economic tension between the North and the South. The Tariff of Abominations was clearly formed to support the Northern economy at the expense of the South. The high taxes on imported agricultural goods would force the South to buy from the North because taxes on formerly inexpensive British goods were too high. Similarly, the creation of a National Bank would excuse the North from Revolutionary War debts that the South had already been forced to pay.

Lastly, the treatment of blacks was a tremendous issue, as the North vied for freedom and the South wanted to keep the slaves working on a plantation. Blacks lived in deplorable conditions and were frequently abused. On the Barrow plantation, "once every four or five days, some slave was whipped" (Zinn ch 9).

During Reconstruction, very little was reconstructed. Three new amendments were passed in an attempt to give blacks more freedom, but writing does not change people's mentality. Just has before, people were selective in the Constitutional laws they accepted, and amendments 13-15 were not high on most's lists. Blacks continued to be treated horribly. In one month alone in 1866, a supposed reconstructing year, forty-six blacks were killed, five black women were raped, and ninety homes, twelve schools, and four churches were burned (Zinn 9). Slavery might have been abolished, but tons of blacks were still stuck on plantations as sharecroppers.

As for economic strife between the North and the South, how can any hard feelings be put aside when the South received less than 10% of the public funds in 1866, and Kentucky was getting 2.5% the amount that Ohio, her Northern neighbor, was getting?

I don't believe any sort of reconstruction was taking place; in 1877, we were right back where we started with Constitutional clauses of little affect, economic inequality between the North and South, and abused blacks working on farms.

How could a period called "reconstruction" be so similar to the past? Do you think that there was ever any intent to reconstruct, or did the North just want to, as victors of the Civil War, further exploit the South?

Evan said...

I think it’s very possible that there was intent to reconstruct, however it is very apparent that their attempt failed. The situation could be compared to the war in Iraq, America being the North and Iraq being the South. Iraq/South needed help after troubling times and the affluent “heroes”, North/America, set out to help them. Both America and the North had questionable intentions, and their help did nothing but perhaps start more conflict. Their futile public funds among other somewhat ill-mannered offerings might have done more bad than good. Do you think that the South would have been better off without the “help” of the North, or do you think it did more harm than what might have been intended?

Jordan said...

I agree with what Annie was saying, did reconstruction ever really take place? In my eyes reconstruction means starting over. Putting the past views and problematic systems behind and creating a new manner of living and new rules to go with it. It means changing the mindset of people and forgetting what they thought in the past. I don't believe that this occurred during 1865-1877, the period known as out country's reconstruction. I think that there were definitely a fair amount of people who intended for this to happen and really wanted to reconstruct in this manner; however there were also much more people who refused to ever think of blacks as anything close to their equals. During reconstruction yes slavery "ended". However blacks continued to work as sharecroppers for basically no money and were treated slaves. They were still punished as slaves, received very minimal wage, and were still seen by whites as property. So, were they really free? Had anything changed in their eyes? The white men still had ways of working around the new laws to keep negroes "bound to them eternally". "The average wage of Negro farm laborers in the South was about fifty cents a day, Fortune said. He was usually paid in "orders", not money, which he could use only at a store controlled by the planter, 'a system of fraud'. THe negro farmer, to get wherewithal to plant his crop, had to promise it to the store, and when everything was added up at the end of the year he was in debt, so his crop was constantly owned to someone, and he was tie to the land, with the records kept by the planter and storekeeper so that the Negroes 'are swindled and kept forever in debt.'" So did reconstruction free blacks and make their lives as happy and careless as we were taught in 5th grade? Or did the white men still see them as meaningless animals who they could manipulate as much as they wanted rather than actual people.

Since reconstruction never actually changed the thinking and beliefs of the people in the country, how could it truly be called reconstruction? What was reconstructed? Everything that was attempted more or less failed in the end. The end of slavery turned into sharecropping, blacks with the "same rights as whites"( voting, etc) turned into white men finding loopholes such as fees for voting and other regulations to keep as many blacks out of power as possible. So, was anything really changed?

mike said...

in response to evan's question, i think the south wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the support of the northern states. keep in mind, the civil war completely devestated what was a already a poorly developed region. the whole anaconda campaign essentially became a pillaging spree, where union troops razed nearly every plantation that they came across. without plantations, the south's exclusively agricultural economy would cease to exist. economically speaking, the south would never have survived.

it should also be noted that the north controlled virtually all of the nations assets and funds. the south couldn't even afford a navy or a standing army in wartime, so it seems unlikely that they would have any extra cash lying around to fix the immesurable devestation to their infrastructure.

that being said, i think the burden of reconstruction rested exclusively on the northern federal government. roads, schools, and farms aren't going to build themselves, and the south simply did not have the resources to do it on their own. Unfortunately, what southerners begin to relize is that the north had no intention of being this generous.

i view the situation between the north and the south to be very similar to the relationship between france and germany around the same time. national pride is very powerful, and no one likes to see their country lose a war. if anything, defeat only encouraged future conflict. the franco-prussion war, WWI, and WW2 were conflicts that were heavily influenced by france and germany's pursuit of revenge for past defeats; similarly, the south wasn't too pleased after 5 years of northern troops destroying everything in their path. this resentment inevitably impeded any chance of cooperation between the north and south. the reconstruction needed to be a collaborative effort, and that simply did not happen.

that being said, does anyone think that the north and the south ever had any intention of cooperating? did the north just want to rub it in?

Maanvi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maanvi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maanvi said...

Cuborica was a simulation of the Civil War, and in both I think everyone was in it to win. As Mike brought up, pride is such an important part of why people fight for their beliefs. No one wants to be the loser. The rift between the North and South was obviously somewhat caused by the Tariff of Abominations, which supported the North. Because of the high taxes on imported goods, the South would have to buy from the North. Also, the creation of the National Bank excused the North from Revolutionary war debt, a debt that the South had already paid. Not only that, but "The United States in 1865 had spent $103,294,501 on public works, but the South received only $9,469,363 of that" (Zinn Chapter 9). The North was thriving and making an insane profit off of the South, where as the South was slowly loosing its wealth. I think the South resented the North for being the successful industrialists and finding a way to use the South to get what they want. Furthermore, the government formed the 13, 14, and 15 amendments but because of loose interpretation and strict interpretation of the constitution, the North and South took it in different ways. For example, supporters of slavery started interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment, which was presumably passed, “for racial equality, in a way that made it impotent for this purpose” (Zinn Chapter 9). People against slavery were finding a way around the amendments and refused to acknowledge their existence. However, in response to Mike's question, I think the North and the South did have the intention to cooperate with each other. Leaders who did stuck to their beliefs, unlike Lincoln, aimed for change. A change that satisfied both the North and the South just wasn’t found during the time we define as reconstruction. From the moment the nation was split into free states and slave states, the North and the South started fighting for their beliefs. The North was not rubbing anything in anyone’s face, just like supporters of slavery, they were fighting for what they believed was best and they were fighting to get what they want.

Maddie said...

I agree with what Maanvi said about how the sides were both in it to win because they would not have fought if they did not believe they would be successful. But I cannot help but wonder if reconstruction was actually successful. We have spoken in class about how the south still has negative feelings towards African Americans. Some southern states still fly confederate flags and there are bumper stickers which read "The War didn't end in 1865." Does this mean that what we refer to as an end to war did not really happen? There were some successful outcomes after reconstruction, but from a modern perspective, is it safe to say that reconstruction was successful?

Caroline said...

I agree with Jordan, and I also believe that Reconstruction was fairly unsuccessful, considering that the Union was never truly united - we still see our country as the "North" and the "South," each with different values and ways of life as it has always been, regardless of whether slavery (or the war) ended or not. Maddie also brings up a good point in that Southerners still seem to have some beef with the North, and
Confederate flags can still be seen all over. I think that after the Civil War, pretty much the bloodiest and obviously most personal war America has ever fought, there is no real way to truly "unite" our country. By now, the values of each region have been rooted so deeply in their respective societies that, after 200 years, if they haven't been eradicated, then they never will be. It's kind of like how Northerners think (jokingly) that New York should just secede from the country, because it is just so different from the classic McDonald's paradigm that people tend to relate with America. Basically, though, I think that each region is just too different from one another to be one true unit, and this issue arose during the unsuccessfulness of Reconstruction and continues through today. I think that Reconstruction was just too haphazard and biased to really be successful. Is it possible that these gaps in our country can ever be closed? Was Reconstruction executed in such a way that could have really had the power to unite us?

Melanie said...

I agree with Jordan and Caroline in the fact that Reconstruction was not successful. Like Caroline says, there is still separation within our nation, for we may refer to ourselves as the "North," and refer to people of the "South." Caroline poses interesting questions. She asks, "Is it possible that these gaps in our country can ever be closed? Was Reconstruction executed in such a way that could have really had the power to unite us?"

Well, to begin, I believe that these gaps within our country can never be closed. This is because I think it is too late. There is so much that divides us, not just the physical barrier, as North and South. I think our ways of life are much different. I went to the South this summer, and I felt like I was in a different country. The roads are long, and there are farms everywhere. However here, in the North, we are extremely more industrialized. Thus, it is a total different way of living. It is too late to be fixed because there are now new variables being introduced to the different (North and South) sections of the United States. For instance, one new variable could be immigrants. There are many heritages in New York City in the North, compared to Texas in the South. This could have been caused by the fact that Ellis Island happened to be in New York. However, it is again, too late to stop. And so, to answer your question Caroline, I do not believe that we will never be able to united the United States simply because it is too late and there are too many new variables being introduced that would only complicate things. What other variables lead to the separation within our nation other heritage?

To answer the second part of Caroline's question (Was Reconstruction executed in such a way that could have really had the power to unite us?), we would have to look back at the way in which the North fought against the South in the Civil War. I believe that the Civil War and Reconstruction was not executed in a way to unite the United States. I believe that the North threatened the South TOO much. The Anaconda Plan, proposed in 1861, was a plan to surround the Confederacy by blockade at sea and control of the Mississippi River. However, after the South had CLEARLY been diminished, the North still stomped on every inch of the South and ravaged everything in sight. Thus, do you think this was a smart decision for the North? If we could go back, do you think the North should have done the same thing and kept attacking when the South was weak and had already lost? Was the North showing how supreme they were and how they deserved respect? Or was it further complicating the attempt to obtain unity and bring our nation together?

Annie said...

In response to mike, no, I don't think that the North and South ever really intended to work together. Reconstruction was, I believe, a selfish act. The South did not want to be reconstructed. Wasn't that the point of the war, that the South didn't want to change and were willing to fight for their right to live in the past? One of the key aspects of reconstruction was identifying the place of the now free blacks in society. The North passed three new amendments to increase their rights. They clearly were not thinking about what the South wanted, as it was abundantly clear that increased rights for blacks was the last thing on a white southerners priorities list.

Also in response to Mike, yes, I do think that, at least partially, the Northerners were trying to rub their victory in the Southerners faces. They had troops sitting in Southern territory, a clear stab at open wounds. Much as the french stormed the Bastille because of the oppression felt by having troops occupy Paris, the Southerners were sure to feel that the purpose of the military presence was to further torment them. Also, the Northerners could not have cared about reconstruction that much; the second they wanted something from the South, namely the election of Hayes, they were happy to leave the South and let it return to its former state of black oppression.

And no, in response to Caroline, I don't think that reconstruction was designed in a way that it could ever help us. The war was made to lessen tension between the North and the South, but, as soon as it ended, the North was right back trying to impose their ways on the South with little to no regard for what the South wanted. When the North abandoned its Southern occupation in 1877, it's no wonder the South enacted Jim Crow Laws and tried to bar black's right to vote. It was almost a way to spite the North, to show them they had no effect on the South, and they would continue doing what they were doing. It's no wonder, to me, that tension and differences between the North and South raged on. What is somewhat remarkable is that they continue through today. The Southern mentality of redeeming themselves from losing the war is not just a trend with older folk. At football games at the University of Mississippi, college kids can be found cheering on their mascot, the rebel soldier, and chanting "the South will rise again!" with confederate flags waving.

With such a mentality pervading to this day, I think it's impossible to say that Reconstruction was the least bit successful. Do you think reconstruction can ever be successful, or are parties always too self-interested for true, productive compromise? How can reconstruction have worked, if at all?

anonymous!! said...

A huge issue that needs to be addressed in Reconstruction is the Fourteenth Amendment. The amendment states “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.” The Fourteenth Amendment was passed right after the Civil War, meaning all throughout reconstruction this law was in place. However, when the Confederate States came back into the Union, they created black codes. Black codes made freed slaves still work plantations. Negroes were working under labor contracts that they couldn’t break or they would go to jail. I think that’s an example of Negroes having their liberties deprived. There was also forced labor for children under 18 with no or poor parents and punishment for runaways. I wouldn’t exactly call that living your own life full of liberty. Furthermore, when Negroes wanted to express themselves, their sentiments had to be adulterated and sent through white messengers. So basically what they wanted to say was altered and changed by the time the message was received by the original contact. As for property, in 1865, Mississippi said that Negroes couldn’t rent or lease farmland. There was also a system of fraud for Negro farm laborers. The average wage was 50 cents a day and when everything was added up at the end of the year, the colored man was always in debt, meaning the property was always owed to someone. I don’t think that every person in each state had their property. And were woman just completely forgotten about? Sojourner Truth brought up the point that if woman didn’t begin attaining rights, the colored men would be masters over the colored woman and it will be just as bad as it was before. He also pointed out that the people should keep things going while they are stirring. “If we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get it going again…” So maybe the men were beginning to gain rights and equality, but the fourteenth amendment states “deprive any person”. So essentially the fourteenth amendment was completely ignored during reconstruction. But would have reconstruction occurred if the fourteenth amendment was strictly followed? How would have the confederate and southern states agreed to enter back into the Union if they had to treat Negroes completely equal and would have no slaves?
Another huge issue was violence, which broke out once the balance of military power started shifting. The southern states used their economic power to organize terrorists groups such as the KKK. Between 1867 and 1871 there were 116 acts of violence, and there were over 100 lynchings a year. “Yet, victory require[s] a crusade”, as Zinn states as his second sentence of Reconstruction.

Maanvi said...

Although some good points were made, I still think the North and the South had the intention to cooperate with each other. We can not forget the compromises that they took a stab at before the reconstruction period. Also, like I said before, the inconsistency of the leaders was not helping the situation.

To address the questions presented by Mrs. Schager: What are the priorities of reconstruction? Who decides what the priorities are? The priorities of the civil war were to give slaves their civil rights and to unify the North and the South. I think that the first main priority should have been to enforce the new amendments and make sure they were followed. As president, I think this was Andrew Johnson’s responsibility. However, as president, Johnson went against these amendments because he “vetoed bills to help Negroes; he made it easy for Confederate states to come back into the Union without guaranteeing equal rights to blacks” (Zinn Chapter 9). As two steps forward were taken, the decisions he made took the Union three steps backwards. However, the people did not listen to the laws because even the government in place was not sticking to one decision. The North wanted to punish the South for leaving, but Johnson was willingly and easily letting them back into the Union without making them follow the amendments. He did everything short of ending slavery, which of course upset the North. How will they work together as a nation now?

Lexa said...

In response to what Annie said about Reconstruction being a selfish act, I completely agree. As many people have addressed previously, both sides wanted to win immensely, but whoever won the Civil War was destined to be the decision maker for the next step. The war was a vehicle to show who was the stronger side, and since the North apparently prevailed, they were considered (at least by themselves) the superior region. This superiority complex is shown through much of the actions they took, such as spending $103,294,501 on public works, but only allotting $9,469,363 to all of the South. (Zinn Chapter 9).

The South, as Annie said, never wanted to be Reconstructed. They were content with their life style and risked their lives to keep it that way. But the North forced upon them a new life style which they were unaccustomed to. Not only did they force this new way of living upon the Southerners, but they never truly made an effort to reach out and truly reconstruct the South. Can a new life style truly be forced on someone if the victim of the change is so stubborn?

Just like many others have asked before, is there any way that the South truly could have been reconstructed if the mindset of the people were still set in slavery? We have to remember that the South was fighting to keep their original way of life, and the North was fighting to change the South. We also have to remember that the South goes down in most history books as being the "losers." Do you think that they still identify themselves as losers? Is our country eternally separated into the "winners" and the "losers?" Could this mindset have triggered the reversion back to sharecropping and extreme racism?

Shannon Walsh said...

Before I get into what I believe, a lot of you are saying that Reconstruction was unsuccessful. So, do you think that it should have taken place at another time? And if so, when?

In response to what Lexa is saying, I think she brings up many good points. Firstly, it is evident that nothing was going to turn out well if the North was trying to change the South, but they were happy with their way of life. So, no, a new lifestyle CANNOT be forced upon a victim if they are stubborn.

Lexa also brings up a good point about the "winners" and "losers". If people were in the mindset that one side was going to win, and the other was going to lose, then how was America going to become united!? It is impossible to unite a group of people when they are trying to beat each other.

Also, we've talked about how, yes, perhaps the blacks were given rights, but this didn't change how people felt towards them. No, they were not allowed to be excluded from hotels, theaters, railroads, etc.,but this didn't mean that anyone had to treat them equally? In my opinion, such a big change would need time. It needs to start legally with amendments passed that would make blacks equal by law before people would even think about changing thier views of the black race.

Erica said...

I agree with everyone who mentioned the fact that reconstruction was not successful. The Compromise of 1877, in my opinion was Reconstruction's greatest downfall. After the Northern troops left the South, the Southern Whites devised methods to keep the African Americans at a lower social and economic level.

Jim Crow Laws,the KKK, literacy tests, and racism in general are all examples of how Reconstruction backfired. In response to Shannon, I think that if the same exact process of Refconstruction occurred at a different time, the same events would have taken place because of how intertwined the main issues of the Civil War were in our society.

The South was a hugely agricultural society where slaves were the main aspect of success. Zinn states, " It would take a full-scale slave rebellion or a full-scale war to end such a deeply entrenched system" (Slavery Without Submission). This was yet another main reason why reconstruction failed. Although there was the Civil War, when the South tried to rebuild they solely re-established yet another agricultural society relying on cheap labor for success. If the North had tried to establish a more industrial economy in the South, would the results of Reconstruction be the same?

Cameron said...

In response to Erica's question, I think it's insane to assume that the north had any sort of ability to "set up" an insustrialized economy. First, in order to have established this sort of economy, it would have required the ability to see the future. If you're in the south, and ther's no such thing as industrialization yet, you're going to say "wow, a bunch of big open fields. Looks like agriculture to me". It was the most obvious response. Plus, even if you say that the south could have just set up an industrialized economy, it's a lot more than just a snap of the fingers. You need railroads, resources, and a lot more that the south simply didn't have. Personally, I think that based on the situation, it was impossible for somthing like reconstruction to work, probably even now with a modern perspective.

Charlotte said...

In response to Cameron’s, I completely agree. I do not think that North would have been able to industrialize the South. The South does not have the resources or ability to do so. Even if they transported the needed resources to the South most of the land was covered with functioning plantations that were probably not willing to give up that land. The South also didn’t have the workers, they did not have the steady flow of immigrants the North was receiving and most of the workers that did live in the South were owned by another person. But if the North had tried and was successful in industrializing the South what would have happened?

matt said...

I agree with both Cameron and Charlotte about the industrialization of the South. this was in no way possible for the people of the north or the south to accomplish. the amount of time and money needed to complete such a task would be enormous and outrageous. the south was more of an agricultural area of the union, "the bread basket" if you will. they had all of the slaves because they needed all of the laborers that they could get. without the slaves their would have been much less amounts of goods produced by this part of the country. also the amount of money needed to transform the entire south to an industrial world would have been outrageous. the slaves would be left deserted since the whites would end up taking some of the jobs at these mills. What was the south then to do with all of these blacks running away? what was the South to do about slavery if there was no need for it anymore.

i also agree with everyone on the issue of reconstruction and how unsuccessful it actually was. if you look back to the Compromise of 1877, the north left the south to do there own thing, in return for them all voting for Hayes for the president instead of Tilden. the north basically turns its back on the south allowing them to govern themselves and go back tot he old ways were blacks were not treated as equals and instead regarded as slaves for the most part. they could not find jobs so were forced to join the same plantations that they were once slaves on. they were suppose to be able to vote, but the southerners would not allow that. instead the grandfather clause and literacy tests were administered to those select group of people who were not "deemed" worthy of voting by the upper class whites of the south. the grandfather clause stated that if your grandfather didn't vote than neither can you. this basically eliminated all of the black population from voting. the few that escaped that were then faced with a literacy test. these test were impossible as Mrs. Schager described them. she said that they were given to the select few and were parts of the states constitution. after reading the document they were to answer questions and if they didn't pass then they could not vote. these two new "laws" were completely unethical and unreasonable, but the north turned their backs. reconstruction was completely pointless and didn't really solve of the issues that the north and south had between each other.

Natasha Gabbay said...

After reading Ali's response, more specifically "The North put in place many formal laws and regulations that stated that they were no longer slaves and were free citizens and also had troops in the South for a while to protect the blacks, but there werent any intangible support such as educational systems or jobs given to the blacks for good pay and career advancement," I started thinking that the North's positions on equality among blacks and whites was purposely kept narrow. Many people have proposed on this blog that the blacks weren't receiving equal education and employment options, but I don't think that these privileges were ever intended for blacks by the North. Zinn states that "The American government had set out to fight the slave states in 1861, not to end slavery, but to retain the enormous national territory and market and resources. Yet, victory required a crusade." Because the North had used slavery as a plateau, when reconstruction came around the North had to occupy the South to make it seem like they had been fighting for the slaves' rights all along. But looking at the evidence it seems that voting was one of the only improvements made for blacks during the occupation of the North. Zinn discusses "the powerful interest of the Republican party in maintaining control over the national government" and how they used "with the prospect of southern black votes to accomplish this." This dynamic of reconstruction and the real motives of the North makes a lot of sense because it even corresponds to the Compromise of 1877 which ended reconstruction when the North finally got the president they wanted in office.

RH said...

In class today, we discussed the issues of education and the impacts from this sensitive subject. With a traditional type of education in the south, and a modernized education in the north, there were huge differences in social classes. With the north, money was readily available for educational advances with public education, unlike the south where money was placed into railroad loans and other 'more important issues'. From a reliable source written in 1933 by Rhea Hughston Williams at the Southern Methodist University, there is a discussion of the lack of funding for a public education in the south, "Even during the War, the education in Robertson County continued in spite of the fact that very little money was received from the State. The parents were still paying tuition for the education their children. In 1860 there was a balance of $706.17 in the county school fund."
Money for education was hard to come by in the south, and as we touched upon in class today, how do education differences in the south and north root into the social and cultural differences? When reconstruction is paralleled to a wisdom tooth, how could problems be fixed when there is no dentist or anesthesiologist to fix or numb the pain?

Kat said...

In regard to the education that Rylan spoke of, I think that this is one aspect of the reconstruction that would very quickly lead to equalization, however I do not believe that there was much hope for black being educated in the south from the start, because the people of the north who were treating the blacks much better than those of the south were barely giving the blacks in the north education. According to http://www.etymonline.com/cw/northrace.htm there was an appeal made before the Civil war in the north by a normal abolitionist or a quaker trying to get more money for the black children, that said,

"For your own sake then, contribute to enlighten a population which you cannot remove from among you, that the burden of this disagreeable contact may be rendered as light as possible."

This was the abolitionists only way to appeal to the northerners, and the only way they could was to show them that the blacks could not be removed, therefore it would be beneficial to educate them. Because of this lack of passion for equality in the north I have more doubt that the blacks of the south ever had a chance to be equal, after the civil war, even before the Jim Crow laws, and sharecropping.

Once again, this goes back to the question, of whether or not there is a chance for races to ever be totally equal? I however do not think that at this time, this was remotely possible, and that the actions the government took that we call reconstruction were even anything more than actions with no results that the government used to make it seem like they were making an effort to fix the problems that lead to the war.

I agree 100% with Annie, and I think that there may be no real evidence of reconstruction, more of a fake reconstruction, or more of a fake attempt, to make it seem as though there was a progression. Does a reconstruction need to be successful to count as reconstruction?

Natalie said...

I totally agree with what kat was saying about blacks and education. She brought up a good point with the quote about blacks not being able to be removed, so they may as well be educated. The abolitionists had no intentions of educating the blacks so they were considered equal to everyone else. They didnt care about them at all. They were simply allowing them to be educated because they saw that there was no way of having them removed from society. With the abolitionists feeling this way, or really not feeling any way towards the blacks but simply looking down upon them, there really was no way of total equality. If the peoples minds aren't set on it, there is no way of anything ever becoming accomplished.

this is why, as kat said, reconstruction had no real results, and in fact there is no evidence of a true reconstruction. sure, there was no more "slavery," at least not anything called slavery. but the fact was, after reconstruction, blacks were still being treated totally unfair. they had basically no rights, couldnt get good jobs, and were still looked on as animals by many. after reconstruction, was there still basically "slavery," just hidden because it wasnt called slavery, and supposedly went away?
i do not believe that reconstruction can really be called reconstruction if there are no changes. if you dont fix what you intended to, how is it a successful attempt? in revolt of the guards, zinn talks about how sometimes after a revolt or reconstruction things will appear better for some time, but then they go back to basically just the same as they were before. its a continuous circle. people just dont do what they need to do to every really change things. did the government really put in all the effort neccessary in to complete a true reconstruction?

jordan said...

In response to natalie's question, " did the government really put in all the effort neccessary in to complete a true reconstruction?" You can tell that it is evident that the federal government did little to help with the south because the thirteenth, 14th, and 15th amendments were not inacted there. the thirteenth abolished slavery, and slavery basicly continued in the form of share cropping which the federal government did very liitle to stop. The 14th amendment was that all men were created equal which was ovcourse violated by the segregation in the sout hwhich went on until the civil rights act of 1964 which almost 100 years after reconstruction. The 15th amendment allowed blacks to vote which was violated in the south by all of the acts of state governments that prevented blacks from being able to vote like the grandfather clause and the literacy tests. Again the federal government did nothing to stop this.
So my answer in short is no.
What could have Ulysesse S grant have and other leaders at that time done to make reconstruction more succesful?
A concerned student,
jordan Ratner

Alan said...

In response to Jordan's question, "What could have Ulysesse S grant have and other leaders at that time done to make reconstruction more succesful?," I believe the Grant could have been more strict about corruption going on at the time period. Grant is known for his tolerance of corruption, including the Whiskey Ring in the 1870s in which about 3 million dollars in taxes were stolen from the federal government, helped by high government officials. Grant, although not directly involved, was not strict on the punishment and did not do all in his power to fix this issue.

Besides mix-ups like this though, Grant was pretty helpful to reconstruction. Besides being recognized for his tolerance of corruption, he also was known for his support of African-Ameroican rights. Grant also worked to supress the actions of groups such as the KKK, who posed a serious problem for the advancement of the reconstruction. Grant also led the radical reconstruction in the South and did alot in his power to resolve the issues posed after the Civil War.

Eliot said...

I agree with Alan in that, Grant did a lot for reconstruction given the position he was in. I feel that much of what Grant accomplished for reconstruction deals with the question, “Who decides what the priorities are?” Being a northern republican Grant believed in Federalism, therefore the power he exercised would support these views. Probably the most notable acts under Grant were the Enforcement Acts. The first major influence these acts had was that they gave the national government jurisdiction not only over state actions but also over certain categories of crimes committed by individuals. Most notably, these powers were used to prosecute the Koo Klux Klan and suspend Habeas Corpus in parts of South Carolina. These Acts ultimately undermined the authority of local and state governments, and gave prosecution power to the Federal government.

Aaron said...

It is true that Ulysses S. Grant did fight for the rights of African Americans and tried to limit the power of the Ku Klux Klan. In this respect he did help try to create a good reconstruction of this country. However, leaders at the time of Reconstruction, whether it be Grant or Andrew Johnson or any other high ranking officials in government, certainly were not successful in creating a complete reconstruction.

As it was stated in previous posts, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were comnpletely ignored by many people and things such as the grandfather clause were installed to prevent blacks from getting their full rights. Jim Crow Laws, which essentially kept blacks as slaves by upholding their inferior status in society, were created in 1876.

Reconstruction ended in 1877, so basically these laws were installed, and then the attempt by government to reconstruct the country ended. No one put up a really strong fight against these laws at first. Because of this, when people started to object in the 20th century, these laws were already a way of life like slavery was, so it was very difficult for them to be eliminated. In addition to this, the North and South still did not like each other. Even today confederate flags can be seen in South Carolina and other places down south. Clearly, leaders such as Grant were not very successful at making a successful Reconstruction. The country was still quite similar to the way it was right before the Civil War.

I understand that it is very hard to just change the way a country thinks after years of going about the same way of life. Still though, leaders could have been much firmer. Johnson was racist so he would not do anything different, but Grant should have had much stricter policies. He should have tried to eliminate grandfather clauses and things of that nature. He should have been much harsher with the Confederate states and sent them messages saying, "If you don't do what we want, then there will be trouble."

Of course this could not happen because it would not improve North and South relations. If this tactic was not used though, then the South would continue to do whatever they wanted to blacks. It is a lose lose situation. In the end, Reconstruction did not work. How could it work? Today it finally has defintely been successful, but just by the nature of a reconstruction and how people are, it can never be complete. Reconstruction had to end and be dead for 80 years until people such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. came around to help it. Clearly, something like this takes time. How can we expect a successful reconstruction of a massive country with so many internal issues in just 12 years (1865-1877)? We can't.

Scott said...

I think the real trouble here is that, push come to shove, the American federal system was designed from day one to keep the central government from acting “tyrannically” in violation of the will of some of its citizens—i.e. tyranny of the majority. Federal rule in the south after the civil war was exactly that: rule by a distant majority (the north) which was despised by the minority (the south) which was being ruled against its will.

States rights—at least insofar as the term means that states cannot be browbeaten into a bloody pulp by the federal government—ensured that Washington could not effectively interfere with the South’s effective re-enslavement of African-Americans after the withdrawal of federal troops. Under the Federal System, states can pretty much do what they want unless the federal government is willing to expend a lot of political capital to stop them, and after 1877 nobody was willing to spend that kind of political capital.

Ultimately, The American federal system is just not effective as a means of effecting rapid change by any means other than bayonet point.

Meg said...

I agree with aaron when he said that “it is very hard to just change the way a country thinks after years of going about the same way of life”. This is why Reconstruction was not effective. While the idea behind reconstruction may have been a good one because it was supposed to be giving more rights to blacks, people kept reverting back to the mentality that slavery was okay. For example, the Jim Crow laws were a way to pretty much bring back slavery without actually calling it slavery. Thus because peoples’ ideas never changed, reconstruction failed.

Another reason that Reconstruction failed was because people were more concerned with their own economic situation the economic situation of others. According to Zinn “with billions of dollars' worth of slaves gone, the wealth of the old South was wiped out”(chapter 9). People used slavery as a way to get what they wanted. The southerners used it to get free labor so they could make more money, and then Lincoln used the threat of taking slavery away to try to keep the Union together. So when Reconstruction was taking place, after the Civil War was over and slavery was abolished, people no longer felt as strongly about the abolition of slavery being enforced because the Union was together again. So they reverted back to their old ways and also the ways that made them the most money, which in the South was by using slaves to do the labor. As Zinn says, “a New York Times editorial said: "Northern men ... no longer denounce the suppression of the Negro vote.. . . The necessity of it under the supreme law of self-preservation is candidly recognized" (Chapter 9). The Northerners also felt the economic hit that the South took after slavery was abolished and there were few white men who would risk losing their own economic security just so that black people could gain more rights and be able to make their own money. So Reconstruction also failed because people put their own needs before the needs of others.