Reconstruction – Ch. 16, “Reconstruction,” pgs. 414-427
Overall main idea:Between 1865 and 1870, Reconstruction after the Civil War established Republican rule in the South and enacted progressive reforms particularly benefiting former slaves. White Southerners and the Ghosts of the Confederacy
Main idea: Defeated white Southerners often viewed the Civil War as the “Lost Cause” and were reluctant to give up their status and romanticized image of the Old South.
Lost Cause – a phrase applied by many white Southerners to the Civil War, as it was a noble defeat, a chivalrous, courageous fight for the virtuous, oppressed Old South; Robert E. Lee was the “patron saint”
Lost Causers wouldn’t let the war’s memory die; Mark Twain wrote of how Northerners had moved on by 1880, but Southerners still dwelt on the war
More than Freedom: African-American Aspirations in 1865
Main idea: African-Americans’ aspirations in 1865 were independence and rights within the white power structure, with which the Federal government would attempt to aid.
Freedmen’s Bureau – “Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands,” a Federal government agency whose purpose was to aid former slaves and poor whites in gaining economic, social, and educational stability after the war; first Federal government attempt at social welfare intervention; 1865-1872
Main idea: The Freedman’s Bureau organized educational opportunities for blacks in the South.
Most successful aspect of the Freedman’s Bureau; it organized many Northern charity and religious groups to establish more than 3,000 new schools in the South
Most of the original teachers were white northern women, then eventually black southern women
At the end of the Civil War, white Southerners literacy rate was around 70%, black Southerners was around 10%; within ten years, black Southerners had increased to over 30%
Black colleges founded in the South included Howard University and Fisk University
White Southerners disliked black education
“Forty Acres and a Mule”
Main idea: Attempts at economic land grants and compensation by the Federal government for former slaves were unsuccessful or short-lived.
W. T. Sherman issued Field Order No. 15 – put aside abandoned and confiscated land along Atlantic coast for land grants of up to 40 acres to former slaves; sometimes might have been given mules or livestock by Federal soldiers also; Sherman viewed it as a temporary measure, not long-term; President Johnson nullified it later in 1865
“Forty Acres and a Mule” became a famous phrase for unfulfilled economic promises supposedly made to blacks by the Federal government after the war
Union Congressmen push for economic stability in the South first, with blacks as free wage laborers, rather than independent black ownership of lands and farm; Freedmen’s Bureau supervises contracts between whites and blacks at first
Migration to Cities
Main idea: After the Civil War, many former slaves moved to Southern cities, usually finding work as unskilled laborers.
Even before the war, cities offered blacks more freedom and opportunity than rural areas; blacks also moved there for family, work, and to test their newfound rights to move
Freedmen often settled in scattered sections of town, usually the cheapest and worst environments; they usually found work as unskilled laborers
Faith and Freedom
Main idea: African-American Christian churches were the centers of most African-American communities and institutions after the Civil War.
Churches were usually the first institutions organized for and by blacks after the war
Churches gave blacks the opportunities in independence, government, administration, leadership, decision-making, and education that white-dominated Southern society denied them
Most black Southern churches were not outwardly aggressive or active, but inwardly focused and isolationist from their plight in white society
Federal Reconstruction, 1865-1870
Main idea: Officials in the United States government often conflicted and disagreed on how to reunite the Union after the Civil War.
Ten Percent Plan – Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction in 1863 that offered to readmit a state if 10% of its population pledged loyalty to the Union and slavery was banned; did not pass
Wade-Davis Bill – Republican Congress’s plan for reconstruction in 1864 that offered to readmit a state if a majority of its population pledged loyalty and blacks were given equality before the law; Lincoln never signed it into law (“pocket veto”)
Presidential Reconstruction, 1865-1867
Main idea: The Reconstruction plan of President Johnson was lenient toward the Southern states, conservative toward the status of former slaves, and disagreed with by radical Republicans.
After Lincoln’s assassination, Congress did not meet again until December of 1865, so Vice-President (now President) Andrew Johnson was mostly in control of Reconstruction; Johnson was a Unionist southerner from Tennessee who balanced Lincoln’s 1864 ticket
Johnson extended pardons of Confederates and restored property rights (minus slaves) to those who took an oath of allegiance to the US; plan didn’t say anything about former slaves’ voting and civil rights; wanted Reconstruction to be quick
Some Southern states resisted Johnson’s lenient plan; some refused to ratify the 13th Amendment, refused to nullify secession, and refused to grant rights to blacks; black codes – extension of former “slave codes” in which laws limited the rights of blacks after the war; Johnson did little to refute this resistance
When Congress reconvenes, the Republicans debate their Reconstruction plans; radical Republicans make up a large portion of the Congress and push for black suffrage (right to vote), protected black civil rights, and land redistribution to former slaves; Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner are prominent radical Republicans
Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 over Johnson’s veto – first passage of major legislation over Presidential veto in U.S. history; eventually becomes the 14th Amendment – all citizens are granted equal status and protection before U.S. law; overrules Dred Scott decision; noticeably uses the word “males” for voting rights
Most Southern states ignore the 14th amendment and continue to harass and commit violence against blacks; Johnson openly criticizes the amendment and encourages southern resistance
Congressional Reconstruction, 1867-1870
Main idea: Reconstruction under the Republican congress established Southern military districts, protected the rights of former slaves, and conflicted with President Johnson.
Military Reconstruction Acts, 1867 – marked the start of Congressional Reconstruction period (1867-1870); established five military districts to govern the South with Republican officials; secured freedmen’s right to vote; set harsher readmission standards for Confederate states; forced southern states to accept federal government’s power and end of slavery
Tenure of Office Act – prohibited President from removing certain officeholders without Senate consent
Johnson resisted Tenure of Office Act as unconstitutional and fired Secretary of War; Senate impeached (brought to trail) Johnson but failed by one vote to convict him
General Ulysses S. Grant narrowly won the Presidential election of 1868 as a Republican
15th Amendment is passed in 1869 – guaranteed the right of American men to vote, regardless of race; women’s rights movement split over support of the amendment, as some supported it as a stepping stone towards women’s suffrage, while others viewed it as a deliberate omission of women’s suffrage; racial and ethnic prejudices also play a part
Southern Republican Governments, 1867-1870
Main idea: Republicans, with the support of a diverse constituency, took control of southern governments during Congressional Reconstruction and passed many progressive reform laws.
Republicans passed laws making local and state offices elected rather than appointed, limiting corruption and cronyism; other laws supported social welfare, prison reform, reapportionment of government districts, and universal male suffrage
Republican supporters in the South:
“Scalawags” – a negative term for white Southerners who supported Republican Reconstruction; often backcountry yeoman farmers who were struggling and wanted government help against debt
“Carpetbaggers” – Northern immigrants to the South, sometimes former Union soldiers, entrepreneurs, or businessmen looking for profit; regarded as intruders and outsiders by southerners
“Freedmen” – former slaves, African-Americans; the largest group of Republican supporters
Union Leagues – Republican party organizations joined African-Americans in many cities
Black voting made a huge difference in the South in this period, electing seven black U.S. Representatives and hundreds of state representatives; African-American officials promoted many measures that supported lower-class people, but not race-specific or revenge laws as white southerners feared
State government was extended and strengthened over local regions to a high degree never before experienced in the South, often promoting government intervention and progressive reforms – building programs of hospitals, schools, orphanages, commitments to public education, expanded women’s property rights, laws against child abuse and requiring child support, some free medical care, some free legal aid
High taxes to support these reforms were unpopular, however, and funding for them was not sufficient in the long run
Overall main idea:Between 1865 and 1870, Reconstruction after the Civil War established Republican rule in the South and enacted progressive reforms particularly benefiting former slaves.