Presentation on theme: "Chapter 15 "What Is Freedom?": Reconstruction, 1865–1877"— Presentation transcript:
1Chapter 15 "What Is Freedom?": Reconstruction, 1865–1877 After the Civil War, freed slaves and white allies in the North and South attempted to redefine the meaning and boundaries of American freedom. Freedom, once for whites only, now incorporated black Americans. By rewriting laws, African-Americans, for the first time, would be recognized as citizens with equal rights and the right to vote, even in the South. Blacks created their own schools, churches, and other institutions. Though many of Reconstruction’s achievements were short-lived and defeated by violence and opposition, Reconstruction laid the basis for future freedom struggles.
2The Meaning of Freedom Blacks and the Meaning of Freedom The destruction of slavery made freedom and its definition central to national life. Was freedom for former slaves to be simply negative—the absence of slavery? Or was freedom also positive—including rights to civil equality, the vote, or land ownership? Freedom was contested and contradictory in the era of Reconstruction.African-Americans’ sense of freedom was rooted in their experience of slavery and knowledge of free society. Freedom, above all, meant escaping the horrors and injustices of slavery and enjoying the rights and opportunities of American citizenship. Freed blacks celebrated their new space to do what was denied under slavery—hold meetings and religious services free of white supervision, own dogs, guns, and liquor, and move freely to find work and family members. Many moved to southern cities, which seemed liberating compared to the rural plantation areas.
3The Meaning of Freedom Families in Freedom Church and School Black institutions established under slavery, such as the family and secret slave church, and free blacks’ churches and schools were strengthened and expanded after the war. The family was fundamental to postwar black life. Former slaves sought to find loved ones separated from them by sale, and widows of black soldiers won the fight to gain pensions from the federal government, which acknowledged the status of slave marriages. Reconstruction also transformed relationships within families as black men and women sought to inhabit the “separate spheres” of free families, with women spending more time with families, at home, and men engaging in most work outside the home. Yet poverty compelled many black women to find wage work.After the war, most blacks also left white churches and established their own churches. Independent black churches, most notably Methodists and Baptists, grew rapidly, and the church became central to black life, providing an educational, social, and political space for the black community. Freed people actively sought to improve themselves through education, which they hoped would allow them to read the Bible, prosper, and participate in politics, and the first black colleges were founded at this time.
4The Meaning of Freedom Political Freedom Land, Labor, and Freedom Inevitably, in a society in which political participation was central to freedom, former slaves wanted the right to vote. Once the war ended, and even earlier in some parts of the South, free blacks and former slaves asserted themselves in the public sphere, meeting, petitioning, and demanding the right to vote and organize their own political groups and candidates. Blacks now celebrated the Fourth of July, a holiday that many white southerners soon came to shun.Land ownership was at the core of the former slaves’ sense of freedom. By acquiring land, the freed slaves hoped to create an economic life and communities beyond white control and interference. Many former slaves believed they had earned rights to the land through their unpaid labor. While freed people’s idea of freedom was similar to that of white Americans—including self-ownership, family stability, religious liberty, political participation, and economic independence—they saw freedom as an open-ended process of transformation, not a birthright that could be assumed.
6The Meaning of Freedom Masters without Slaves The Free Labor Vision Most southern whites were dismayed by defeat and emancipation, which caused enormous destruction and resulted in northern domination. Some 260,000 southern men died in the war, more than a fifth of the South’s adult male whites, and the war destroyed much of the agricultural property on which the southern economy was based. Plantation-owning families faced enormous changes, having lost their slaves and their life savings, which had been invested in Confederate government bonds. With their slaves gone, some had to engage in physical labor for the first time in their lives. Southern planters tried to impose their own vision of freedom on the former slaves, seeking to regain the old control they had exercised under slavery. Freedom for the planters still meant hierarchy and mastery; it was a privilege, not a right, and did not mean economic independence or civil and political equality.Northerners immediately tried to impose their own vision of freedom as free labor. Blacks would become wage workers and landowners, just like free whites in the North, and northern investors would inject capital and migrants into the South to rebuild the economy. The South would eventually resemble the “free society” of the North. Conflict was inevitable. Planters wanted a labor system as close to slavery as possible. Former slaves wanted economic autonomy and access to land.
7The Meaning of Freedom The Freedmen’s Bureau The Failure of Land ReformDirected by O. O. Howard, a Maine abolitionist and Civil War general, the Freedmen’s Bureau was established by Congress in March 1865 to establish a functioning free labor system in the South. The bureau’s agents were tasked to establish schools, give aid to the poor and aged, solve disputes between whites and blacks, and ensure equal treatment for former slaves and white Unionists in the courts. Though the bureau, which existed from 1865 to 1870, had no more than 1,000 agents at its height, it accomplished much in education and health care.But the bureau had a conflicted legacy in economic affairs. The bureau believed that sound race relations in the South would rest on fair wages and working conditions and on opportunities for improvement and social advance. But freed people wanted land, not wage work on plantations. The law founding the bureau enabled the agency to divide abandoned and confiscated land into 40-acre plots for rental and sale to the freed people. But in summer 1865, President Andrew Johnson ordered that almost all confiscated land in federal hands be returned to former owners. In South Carolina and Georgia, army troops forcibly evicted blacks who had been given land by General Sherman, who had promised “40 acres and a mule” to the families of former slaves. Although blacks protested, no land distribution occurred, and nearly all rural freed people stayed poor and property-less during Reconstruction. They had little choice but to return to work on the plantations, often for former owners. Black men were mostly confined to farm work, unskilled labor, and service jobs. Black women were restricted to domestic work as cooks and maids. Wages were too low to build savings or wealth, although by 1900 a significant number of southern blacks had acquired their own land.
8The Meaning of Freedom Toward a New South The White Farmer A new labor system emerged in the South. The task system survived in the rice areas of South Carolina and Georgia, while supervised wage labor became the norm in the Cotton Belt and much of the tobacco areas of Virginia and North Carolina. Sharecropping developed first as a compromise between black desires for land and planters’ insistence on labor discipline. It allowed each black family to rent a part of a plantation, and the crop was divided between the worker and owner at the end of the year. Sharecropping gave planters a stable labor force, and former slaves preferred it to gang labor, because it freed them from white supervision. But sharecropping became increasingly oppressive over time, especially as declining prices for southern crops limited opportunities for sharecroppers.The war and its aftermath also greatly impacted white farmers, who experienced what they thought was a loss of freedom. Before the war, most small white farmers had raised food for their families and grew little cotton. The war and successive crop failures ruined many farmers. To get supplies from merchants, they were forced to grow cotton and commit part of the crop as collateral (property the creditor can seize if a debt is not paid), which became known as the “crop lien.”
10The Meaning of Freedom The Urban South Aftermaths of Slavery Though the rural South’s economy suffered, southern cities saw considerable growth in the postwar period. New railroad lines allowed city merchants to engage in commerce with the North, and a new urban middle class of merchants, railroad entrepreneurs, and bankers benefited from the expansion of cotton production. Reconstruction transformed the lives of all southerners. The antebellum world of master, slave, and independent yeomen had been replaced by a postwar world with new social classes: landowning employers, black and white sharecroppers, white cotton farmers, black wage workers, and urban businessmen.The debates over land, labor, and political power that defined Reconstruction in America had parallels in other societies that experienced emancipation. In each case, planters tried to make former slaves return to plantation work to grow the same crops as under slavery and considered freed black workers as lazy and devoid of ambition. Slaves sought independence, through owning land to avoid labor similar to that of slavery or other through strategies to escape white control. Planters attempted to replace freedmen with a new foreign source of labor—Indians in the British case in the Caribbean, and Chinese in the American case. But the United States was unique as a post-slavery society in that it gave freedmen the right to vote, an event that emerged as a result of a struggle between Congress and President Andrew Johnson over the course of Reconstruction.
11The Making of Radical Reconstruction Andrew JohnsonThe Failure of Presidential ReconstructionAndrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor to the presidency, was initially responsible for Reconstruction. Johnson rose from poverty to a political career in state politics in Tennessee, which he represented in the U.S. Congress and where he was governor. Johnson championed Tennessee’s small white farmers and made enemies of the state’s large slave-owning planters. Staunchly Unionist, he was the only senator from a seceding state to remain in the Senate, and he served as Tennessee’s military governor during the war. His vice-presidency, Republicans hoped, would gain support for the party in the South. But Johnson lacked Lincoln’s political acumen and ability to compromise. Johnson also defended states’ rights; he argued that since secession was illegal, southern states never actually left the Union or gave up their right to govern their own affairs. And Johnson, while supporting emancipation, was deeply racist, and did not believe blacks had a role to play in Reconstruction.In May 1865, Johnson started to release proclamations that inaugurated a period that historians call Presidential Reconstruction (1865–1867). Johnson offered pardons, which restored political and property rights (except for slaves), to all white southerners who took an oath of allegiance, excluding only Confederate leaders and wealthy planters whose prewar property was worth more than $20,000. But Johnson soon pardoned those exempted by this rule. He also appointed provisional governors and ordered them to call state conventions, elected by whites only, to establish loyal southern state governments. These new state governments were required only to abolish slavery, repudiate secession, and refuse to pay Confederate debts. While many people in the North at first supported Johnson’s plan, southern whites mostly returned prominent Confederates and old elites to power and violence against the freed people and northerners in the South generated opposition to Johnson’s policies.
12The Making of Radical Reconstruction The Black CodesThe Radical RepublicansNew state laws in the South regulating the lives of former slaves, called the Black Codes, caused the most opposition to Johnson’s Reconstruction policy. While these laws gave blacks the right to legally marry, own property, and access the courts in some ways, they denied them rights to testify against whites, serve on juries or state militias, or vote. They also allowed authorities to arrest and hire out to white landowners any blacks who refused to sign annual labor contracts, a measure to force the former slaves to return to the plantations. Some states prohibited blacks from buying land and allowed judges to assign black children to work for their former owners without parental consent. These codes, an effort to reinstitute conditions of slavery, violated the free labor principles of the Republican North and caused many in the North to believe that Johnson’s policy was encouraging white southerners to restore their prewar way of life.In December 1865, Johnson declared that the establishment of loyal governments in all southern states had reunited the nation. But Radical Republicans in Congress, who coalesced around opposition to Johnson’s policies, called for new state governments that would exclude “rebels” from power and guarantee the vote to blacks. The Radicals believed that the Union victory presented an opportunity to guarantee equal rights for all, despite race. They welcomed the expanded powers of the federal government and thought federalism and states’ rights could not prevent national efforts to secure equal rights. Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts senator, and Thaddeus Stevens, representing Pennsylvania in the House, were the most prominent Radicals. Stevens in particular wanted to confiscate the lands of disloyal planters and distribute them to former slaves and northern migrants. But most members of Congress respected property rights too much to embrace Stevens’ land reform proposals.
13The Making of Radical Reconstruction The Origins of Civil RightsAlthough Republicans had an overwhelming majority in Congress (the South had no representatives), the party was divided. Radicals were only a minority; most Republicans were moderates who thought Johnson’s plan needed only improvement. The moderates believed that southern and northern whites would never accept black suffrage. Moderates and Radicals refused to seat southerners elected to Congress, but the moderates made sure that southern governments remained. Moderates extended the life of the Freedmen’s Bureau and proposed a Civil Rights Bill, which defined all persons born in the United States as citizens and spelled out rights they enjoyed, regardless of race. Equality before the law was central to the bill, making it impossible for states to have laws, like the Black Codes, that discriminated against blacks. Free labor values also informed the bill, which prohibited laws denying citizens’ rights to make contracts, bring lawsuits, or enjoy protection of person and property. The bill said nothing of black suffrage. Johnson, who shocked the Congress by vetoing both bills, claimed he was defending states’ rights and said blacks did not deserve citizenship. Johnson’s vetoes alienated many in the Republican Party, and in April 1866, the Civil Rights Bill became the first major law in U.S. history to be passed over a presidential veto.
14The Making of Radical Reconstruction The Fourteenth AmendmentCongress soon created its own Reconstruction plan. Its Civil Rights Bill became the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment, which placed in the Constitution the principle of citizenship for all persons born in the United States and empowered the federal government to protect the rights of all Americans. The amendment banned the states from abridging the “privileges and immunities” of citizens or denying them the “equal protection of the law.” This language allowed future Congresses and federal courts to give meaning to this promise of legal equality.As a compromise between moderate and Radical Republicans, the amendment did not grant black suffrage. But it did stipulate that any state that denied voting rights to any group of men would face a reduction in its representation in Congress. Emancipation also threatened the South’s political power, because now all blacks, not just three-fifths, would be counted in determining a state’s representation in Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment offered the white South’s political leadership a choice—allow black men to vote and keep their representation or limit the vote to whites and lose power in Congress.The Fourteenth Amendment created great conflict between the parties. Not one Democrat voted for it and only four Republicans opposed it. While Radicals deplored that it did not give blacks the vote, the amendment made legal equality regardless of race a basic right of all American citizens.
15The Making of Radical Reconstruction The Reconstruction ActImpeachment and the Election of GrantThe 1866 elections revolved around the Fourteenth Amendment. Johnson urged voters to elect men to Congress who supported his policies and claimed that Radicals were plotting to assassinate him. This, along with riots in southern cities targeting blacks, undermined support for Johnson’s allies, and Republican opponents emerged victorious in the elections. But every southern state except Tennessee refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. Johnson and the white South’s resistance pushed moderate Republicans into the Radical camp, and in March 1867, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, which temporarily divided the South into five military districts and called for the establishment of new state governments, in which black men could vote. This inaugurated the period of Radical Reconstruction, lasting until 1877.Congress simultaneously approved a measure prohibiting the president from removing certain officeholders, including members of the cabinet, without the Senate’s consent. Johnson believed this unconstitutionally limited his authority, and when he removed secretary of war Edwin M. Stanton, a Radical ally, the House approved articles of impeachment—sending charges against Johnson to the Senate, which was to decide his fate. This was the first time a president had faced trial in the Senate for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Not all Republicans supported impeachment, and Johnson indicated he would halt his interference with Congress’s Reconstruction policy. He barely escaped impeachment.Republicans nominated Ulysses S. Grant for president to run against Horatio Seymour, the Democratic candidate and former New York governor, in the 1868 election. Reconstruction was the issue of the elections. Republicans tarred Democrats with secession and treason, a tactic called “waving the bloody shirt,” while Democrats denounced Reconstruction as unconstitutional and made racist appeals, arguing that black suffrage violated American political traditions.
16The Making of Radical Reconstruction The Fifteenth AmendmentThe “Great Constitutional Revolution”Grant won the presidential contest by a slim margin. Republicans responded in February 1869 by adopting the third and final Reconstruction amendment, the Fifteenth, which barred federal and state governments from denying the right to vote to any citizen based on race. Denounced by Democrats, the amendment was ratified in The Fifteenth Amendment enabled states to make suffrage restrictions not based on race, such as literacy tests, property requirements, and poll taxes, and did not give the vote to women, but it represented the culmination of abolitionism.Reconstruction laws and amendments reflected the power of the new national state and the idea that citizens should enjoy legal equality. They were, in the words of one Republican, a “great Constitutional revolution” that transformed the federal system and the language of American freedom. Before the Civil War, citizenship had been bounded by race. But Reconstruction laws rejected the notion that citizenship was reserved only for whites. Their guarantees of legal equality affected discriminatory laws in all states, North and South.The new amendments also changed the relationship between states and the federal government. The Bill of Rights had assumed that the central government threatened liberties, but the Reconstruction amendments assumed that only the national government could protect individual rights. They made the Constitution an instrument by which vulnerable minorities could make claims for freedom and against government misconduct at all levels. Many important twentieth-century Supreme Court decisions were based on the Fourteenth Amendment, such as the 1954 Brown ruling outlawing school segregation.
18The Making of Radical Reconstruction Boundaries of FreedomThe Rights of WomenFeminists and RadicalsReconstruction recast the boundaries of American freedom. Exclusions that limited citizenship and its privileges to white men had long defined American democratic practice. Even Republicans committed to universal rights did not want to extend rights to all races. Some Republicans, like Frederick Douglass and Charles Sumner, wanted to end discrimination against Asians in the nation’s immigration law. When, in 1870, Sumner tried to strike the word “white” from naturalization requirements, western states’ senators made Africans eligible for naturalization but barred Asians from becoming naturalized citizens. Up into the twentieth century, Asian immigrants could not become citizens, while their American-born children became citizens automatically.Women’s rights advocates discovered the limits of Reconstruction-era egalitarianism. They saw the expansion of federal power and rights as a moment to advance women’s equality. But their demands, especially the demand for women’s suffrage, found little support among male politicians, even among Radical Republicans, who considered Reconstruction an opportunity to benefit black men. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments specifically benefited men, not women, and caused a division within the feminist camp and between feminists and Radical Republicans. Some, like Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, opposed the Fifteenth Amendment because it did not enfranchise women. They tried to sever women’s rights from abolitionism and even appealed to racism to demand rights for women. Other abolitionist-feminists, such as Abby Kelley and Lucy Stone, argued that the Reconstruction amendments, while limited, were advances toward universal suffrage and should be supported. These two sides split into two groups, the National Women Suffrage Association, representing the former, the American Women Suffrage Association, representing the latter.Despite drawing the boundaries at freedom at gender, Reconstruction marked the only society in the world in which emancipation had been followed by the extension of citizenship rights to former slaves.
19Radical Reconstruction in the South “The Tocsin of Freedom”The Black OfficeholderThe Reconstruction Act sparked great political activity amongst former slaves in the South, who held mass meetings, went on strike, and tried to desegregate public transportation. Thousands of southern blacks joined the Union League, an organization tied to the Republican Party, and the vast majority of eligible black voters registered to vote. In the words of one former slave turned political leader, blacks had heard “the tocsin of freedom.”By 1870, all former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union and most were under Republican control. Their new state constitutions, drafted in 1868 and 1869 in conventions with substantial black representation, were an improvement over the old state constitutions. They created state-funded systems of free public education, penitentiaries, and orphan and insane asylums where none existed before. They guaranteed equality of civil and political rights and abolished antebellum practices such as whipping as a criminal punishment, property qualifications for officeholding, and imprisonment for debt.Though blacks were the majority of Republican voters, white Republicans controlled the state Republican parties and held most political offices. Only South Carolina, with a high percentage of blacks in the population, had a majority-black legislature. But the 2,000 African-Americans who held public office in Reconstruction represented a radical shift of power in the South. Two blacks were elected to the U.S. Senate, fourteen were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and one served as the first black governor, in Louisiana. Many blacks served in state legislatures and more blacks than ever before held lower offices such as sheriff, tax assessor, and policeman. Most were former slaves.
20Radical Reconstruction in the South Carpetbaggers and ScalawagsSouthern Republicans in PowerThe Quest for ProsperityThe South’s new state governments also empowered new groups of whites. Some were northerners who migrated to the South after the war. Opponents called them “carpetbaggers,” implying they packed their possessions in a suitcase to quickly move to the South and gain the spoils of office. While a few were corrupt, most carpetbaggers were Union Army veterans who decided to stay in the south after the war. Others were investors in land and railroads seeking economic opportunity. Yet others were teachers, Freedmen’s Bureau officers, or others who traveled to the South to help former slaves.Most white Republicans, however, were from the South, and were despised by former Confederates, who saw them as treasonous “scalawags.” While a few were wealthy whites, most were non-slaveholding small white farmers from the southern upcountry. Many had been Unionists during the war or hoped Reconstruction governments would pass laws favoring indebted farmers.The Reconstruction governments’ greatest accomplishment was establishing state-supported public schools that served both black and white children, although usually in segregated schools. They also passed civil rights laws that made it illegal for railroads, hotels, and other institutions to discriminate by race. Some states also strengthened the economic power of rural blacks by passing laws favoring agricultural workers and sharecroppers. But Reconstruction governments did not try to promote economic prosperity through land distribution, as many blacks had once hoped, but rather tried by developing railroads, which they hoped would spur industrialization, urbanization, and diversified agriculture. Every southern state tried to finance railroad construction and attract industry through tax and subsidy policies, but a revitalized southern economy failed to take shape. Nevertheless, Radical Reconstruction transformed the South by empowering poor whites, northern migrants, and former slaves.
21The Overthrow of Reconstruction Reconstruction’s Opponents“A Reign of Terror”The South’s traditional leadership—planters, merchants, and Democratic politicians—condemned the new governments as corrupt and inefficient examples of “black supremacy.” But corruption, which existed in Reconstruction governments, was confined to no single race, region, or party. The rapid growth of state budgets allowed many to enrich themselves at public expense. But corruption was greatest elsewhere, in the Whiskey Ring, involving Grant administration officials, and New York’s infamous Tweed Ring, controlled by Democrats. Rising taxes needed for schools and railroad development also sparked opposition to Reconstruction, including among poor whites who had initially supported the Republicans but bolted to the Democrats when their economic situation did not improve. Southern whites opposed Reconstruction primarily because they could not accept that blacks should vote, hold political office, or enjoy legal equality. They thought Reconstruction should be overthrown in order for white supremacy to return and planters to have a disciplined and dependable workforce.Violence was endemic in the Reconstruction-era south. At first it was local and unorganized, with blacks being assaulted and murdered for refusing to make way for whites on sidewalks or trying to purchase land. But the establishment of Republican state governments after 1867 ignited organized campaigns of violence against supporters of Radical Reconstruction. Secret societies, most notably the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), tried to prevent blacks from voting and tried to destroy the Republican Party by assassinating local leaders and public officials. The KKK, a terrorist organization started in 1866 in Tennessee that soon spread throughout the South, functioned as the military arm of the Democratic Party in that region. In many counties, it started a “reign of terror” against black and white Republican leaders. But blacks were especially targeted, particularly blacks who held office or exercised political rights. The new southern governments could not suppress the KKK, and in 1870 and 1871 Congress adopted Enforcement Acts that outlawed terrorist groups, allowed the president to use the army against them, and defined acts that deprived citizens of civil and political rights as federal crimes. President Grant dispatched federal marshals and troops to suppress the KKK, and by 1872, most areas of the South were peaceful.
22The Overthrow of Reconstruction The Liberal RepublicansThe North’s RetreatNorthern commitment to Reconstruction declined in the 1870s. Radicals such as Thaddeus Stevens passed away or otherwise left politics, and they were replaced by figures less dedicated to equal rights for blacks. Northerners more and more felt the South should solve its own problems without continuous federal involvement. Many in the North believed that now that the national government had freed the slaves, made them citizens, and given them the vote, blacks had to depend on themselves.In 1872, an influential group of Republicans angered by corruption in the Grant administration and, believing that federal power needed to be reduced formed their own party, calling themselves the Liberal Republicans. They nominated Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, for president. They repeated Democratic criticisms of Radical Reconstruction as encouraging corruption and preventing the rule of the “best men” in the South, that region’s “natural leaders.” Democratic leaders embraced the Republican split and endorsed Greeley. But many rank and file Democrats could not stomach Greeley, a former Whig and Republican, and Grant won a second term to the presidency by a great margin. Nonetheless, Liberal Republicans and Democrats in the North could now agree on rolling back Reconstruction.Northern critics stepped up their often openly racist attacks on southern governments as dens of corruption and misgovernment ruined by black rule. A severe depression beginning in 1873 also distracted Northern Republicans from southern issues. Democrats were widely successful in the 1874 elections and took control of the House of Representatives, but before this new Congress met, legislators passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which barred racial discrimination in public accommodations such as hotels and theaters. The Supreme Court also signaled a retreat from Reconstruction in the Slaughterhouse Cases (1873), in which it held that the federal government could not effectively protect the legal and civil rights of individuals in the states, effectively mitigating the Fourteenth Amendment.
23The Overthrow of Reconstruction The Triumph of the RedeemersThe Disputed Election and Bargain of 1877By the mid-1870s, Reconstruction was under serious assault. Democrats regained control of states with large white voting majorities, such as Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas, and called themselves “Redeemers” for having redeemed the white South from corruption, misgovernment, and northern and black control. Violence flared in states where Reconstruction governments persisted, and the Grant administration now refrained from protecting besieged governments and Republicans. In 1875 and 1876, armed Democrats on Election Day simply destroyed ballots and drove blacks away from the polls, capturing states such as Mississippi and South Carolina.Events in South Carolina directly shaped the outcome of the 1876 presidential elections. Republicans nominated Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, who ran against the Democrats’ Samuel J. Tilden, New York’s governor. By 1876, only South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana were still controlled by Republicans, and the election was so close that whoever carried these states, which both parties claimed to have won, would become president. Congress tried to resolve this impasse by appointing an electoral commission which, with a republican majority, decided that Hayes had carried the critical southern states and been elected. But to secure this result, behind the scenes Republicans negotiated with the Democrats, agreeing to recognize Democratic control of the South and refrain from future federal interference in southern affairs. Democrats promised to respect black rights and not dispute Hayes’ right to office. This became known as the Bargain of Hayes quickly ordered federal troops to stand down, which allowed Democrats in Louisiana and South Carolina to occupy the state governments there.
26The Overthrow of Reconstruction The End of ReconstructionReconstruction, defined as America’s adjustment to the end of slavery, continued long after Blacks still voted and, in some states, held office well into the 1890s. But a distinct period in which Republicans controlled much of the South, blacks held some political power, and the federal government protected the basic rights of all American citizens came to an end in Only a century later, in the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, would the federal government finally act to secure the rights of all, regardless of race.