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1865-1877 RECONSTRUCTION. Main Questions For the Unit What was Reconstruction? How did Reconstruction change the power and the way the US government worked?

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Presentation on theme: "1865-1877 RECONSTRUCTION. Main Questions For the Unit What was Reconstruction? How did Reconstruction change the power and the way the US government worked?"— Presentation transcript:


2 Main Questions For the Unit What was Reconstruction? How did Reconstruction change the power and the way the US government worked? How did Reconstruction change life for African Americans? How successful was Reconstruction in helping African Americans? What things could the country have done differently to make Reconstruction work better?

3 Reconstruction: What was it? Time: The decade or so after the end of the Civil War 1865-1877 Place: The states in the South that made up the former Confederacy What does the name mean? Physically rebuilding or reconstructing the South (why?) Symbolically reconstructing the country (joining it back together) after the Civil War Building or constructing a new southern society (why?) Issues/questions people had at the time What is going to happen to all the former slaves? What is going to happen with the former leaders of the Confederacy? What is going to happen with Southern state governments who left the country, how do we bring them back in and make them part of the government again? Do you treat the defeated South leniently, or harshly?

4 Early Reconstruction: Presidential Reconstruction 1865-1866 Lincoln Had a very lenient, forgiving plan for bringing the South back into the country Advocated only limited rights for African Americans No more slavery anywhere: 13 th amendment No legal equality Voting rights maybe, but only for some African Americans (veterans) Lincoln’s plans never put into effect, why? Andrew Johnson Democrat from the South (Tennessee) became President in 1865 Very lenient attitude toward the defeated South Gave out 13,000 pardons to former Confederate leaders Conservative white Southerners were reelected to state governments, and Congress Racist laws were passed in the South: Black Codes Northerners, and northern Republicans were upset....

5 Congress Gets Upset Takes Over: Radical (Or congressional) Reconstruction 1867-1877 1866 Congressional Elections Radical Republicans gained massive majorities in Congress (2/3rds in both houses) Very upset with Johnson, passed laws to take over Reconstruction Tried to have Johnson impeached and removed as President (failed) Congressional Reconstruction Very harsh and punitive towards the defeated South Military Reconstruction Act—sent Union soldiers to occupy the South, suspended democratic elections and civilian government in the South until new governments could be created Many former members of the Confederacy were banned from voting or holding political office In favor of increased rights for African Americans 14 th Amendment 1868—made African Americans citizens of the US, gave them full civil rights (abolished the black codes) 15 th amendment 1870—gave all African American males the right to vote Civil Rights Act of 1875—made it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of race in restaurants, theaters, hotels, etc.

6 African American Political Involvement Freed Men or Freedmen=freed former slaves, this was a term used to refer to pretty much all African Americans during this time Many leaders of the African American population during this time were veterans of the Union Army Political Activity of Freedmen in the South Helped draft new state constitutions for Southern states Got elected to a variety of positions 14 black representatives, 2 black senators in US Congress Numerous state-level offices: sheriff, judges, state representatives, mayors, etc What political party did African Americans belong too at this time???? What political party did most white southerners belong too? Many white southerners were opposed to Reconstruction and black political involvement, but some were in favor Native white southerners—over time racist white southerners called these people scalawags because they were viewed as traitors to the white South Northern white immigrants who came south—over time racist white southerners called these people carpetbaggers (it has a negative connotation)

7 Conservative White Resistance to Reconstruction Formation of the Ku Klux Klan Racist terrorist organization Designed to prevent African American political involvement, and to resist Reconstruction in the South Targeted politically active African Americans, as well as sympathetic whites, and any supporters of Reconstruction governments Informal racism Racism persisted in the South Discrimination in hiring and firing, wages, giving loans, etc. Federal Govt. Response to the KKK Force Acts (KKK Acts) of 1870, 1871 Govt. could suspend habeas corpus, lock suspected Klan members up in jail for any reason Worked: Klan’s power decreased (for a while)

8 The Plight of the Freedmen Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and 13 th Amendment (1865) ended slavery = good Freed slaves still faced a lot of problems No education No money No tools/animals Not many skills other than agricultural laborers Question: Should the Federal government do something to help freed slaves get on their feet? Free education? Free land? A small amount of money to move to a new location or start a farm/business? Freedmen’s Bureau Established during the war to help former slaves Provided education, job training, etc Dismantled by President Johnson in 1866, never brought back Federal govt. did nothing to help former slaves

9 Sharecropping and Tenant Farming: Slavery Version 2.0? Most former slaves became sharecroppers or tenant farmers Tenant farmer: you rent land from a landlord, grow crops on the land sell them and pay the landlord rent every year Problem: the South after the war was very poor, not much money anywhere Solution: sharecropping Sharecropping: you work for a plantation owner. You live on his/her land, he/she tells you what to grow. At harvest time you give the owner a share of the crop and keep a share for yourself as your wages Problems: easy to get taken advantage of, former slaves had no money to start farms, needed tools, seeds, food, had to borrow money (take out a loan) in order to buy all those things Sharecroppers ended up owing a share of their crops to their landlord and another share to a local merchant or banker to pay off their loans, often they ended the year no better than they started or in debt

10 African American Status Gained an incredible amount of legal rights 13 th amendment abolished slavery 14 th amendment made them citizens (overturned the Dred Scott Case) 15 th amendment gave African American males the right to vote Civil Rights Act of 1875 banned discrimination in certain public places But daily life was very similar (or even worse) to that of slavery Most became sharecroppers Grew and picked cotton all day, everyday Lived and worked on the same plantations they had lived on when they were slaves Worked for the same person they worked for when they were slaves Stuck in a cycle of poverty, constantly in debt—couldn’t leave Relied on landlords and merchants for their survival Faced racism and harassment from groups like the KKK

11 End of Reconstruction: The Election of 1876 and the Compromise of 1877 Election of 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes (R) vs Samuel J. Tilden (D) Incredibly corrupt and fraudulent Hayes eventually declared the winner Democrats very upset Republicans offered a deal—the compromise of 1877 Compromise of 1877 Democrats would recognize Hayes as President Republicans would end Reconstruction in the South

12 Republicans Agreed to do:Democrats Agreed to do: End military Reconstruction in the last few Southern states that still had federal soldiers (effectively end Reconstruction) Recognize Hayes as the President Give the South federal money for internal improvements and build a federally financed transcontinental railroad in the South Not infringe upon the rights of African Americans (wink) Compromise of 1877

13 After Reconstruction: Rollback of African American Rights 1877-1896 Once federal soldiers left the South, most liberal Reconstruction governments were voted out of office and replaced by conservative governments run by white southerners Voting Restrictions Literacy tests (grandfather clause) Poll taxes Harassment and intimidation Civil Rights Restrictions Civil Rights Cases 1883 Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 Beginning of Jim Crow laws and legalized segregation (would last until the 1960’s)

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