Presentation on theme: "Violence, Southern Democratic Power, and the Failure of the Reconstruction."— Presentation transcript:
Violence, Southern Democratic Power, and the Failure of the Reconstruction.
White southerners who took direct action against African American participation in government were in the minority, and most swallowed their bitter resentments. Some relied on violence as a form of repressive action. Ku Klux Klan was founded in Tennessee in 1866 as a social club for Confederate veterans, and by 1868 was a part of every southern state. Their goal was to restore white supremacy through violent terrorism to prevent African Americans from exercising their political rights. Between 1868 and 1871, the Klan and other secret groups killed thousands of men, women, and children, as well as burned down schools, churches, and property. Both African Americans and white sympathizers were targeted. Another Klan objective was to put Republicans out of power, as seen in the assassination of N.C. state senator John Stephens in Before the 1875 state election in Mississippi, the Democrats violently attacked the Republicans in a riot which led to poll intimidation allowing for them to sweep the election—these tactics were repeated in the 1876 elections in F.L., S.C., L.O.
The attacks by groups such as the KKK destroyed the African Americans property, and sheer economic necessity alone drove many blacks to have to work as wage laborers or share croppers under whites. Fear of economic reprisals lead to many blacks not voting at all. Congress passes Enforcement Acts in 1870 and 1871 which allowed for federal supervision at the elections in Southern states and the presidential power to use federal troops in states where the KKK was active. Grant did not use these powers and by 1882, the Enforcement Act of 1871 was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. By 1880, terrorist groups managed to restore white supremacy throughout the South, and this in turn, decreased Klan activities. The Amnesty Act of 1872 restored suffrage to 150,000 former Confederate, who would vote Democrat. Also the Freedmen’s Bureau expired and was not restored because they felt the job was done—the Southern Democrats had a chance to shift the balance of power.
Many of Grant’s appointees turned out to be dishonest—skimming large profits off government railroad contracts, including friends such as his 1st V.P, Schuyler Colfax The Liberal Republican Party is formed in 1872 in hopes of ousting Grant and the corruption for the next election, choosing Horace Greeley (editor of New York Tribune) as their front runner. Although Greeley lost to Grant, the Liberals had weakened the Radical hold over the Party. 1875, the Whiskey Ring is exposed as the IRS and other officials are caught taking bribes from whiskey distillers who wanted to avoid taxes. Grant helps a close associate, General Orville E. Babcock (private secretary) escape conviction. Also, in 1876, Secretary of War William W. Belknap is exposed for accepting bribes from merchants who wanted to keep profitable trade concessions in Indian territory—and other scandals.
After the Civil War, many Northern and Southern investors borrowed large sums of money to invest in the expanding economy, but many took on more debt then could be afforded. Jay Cooke, a Philadelphia banker, invested heavily on railroads and when insufficiencies in investors caused his bankruptcy, a series of financial crises ensued. The fall of the nations largest dealer in government securities resulted in the closing of small banks, the collapse of the stock market, 89 railroads going broke, and by 1875 more then 18,000 companies folded. 3 million workers lost their jobs and a 5 year economic depression ensued. A currency dispute rooted in the Civil War also emerged. Greenbacks versus currency backed by gold. This would reduce the amount of dollars in circulation. Southern and Western farmers wanted more greenbacks, since they saw “easy money” as a way to pay off debts. In 1875, Congress passed the Specie Resumption Act, which promised to put the country back on the gold standard—this resulted in attention being taken off Reconstruction in the 1870’s.
Political scandals, economic problems, and the restoration of political rights to former Confederate Democrats seriously weakened the Radical Republicans, also the Supreme Court began undoing some of the political changes the Radicals had made. During the 1870’s, the Supreme Court passed a series of decisions that undermined both the 14th & 15th amendments. The narrowing of the amendments and power of the federal government to enforce these amendments gave the states individual rights and freedom to impede black voting and protection. Northern voters grew weary of the “negro question” and sick of the “carpetbag government”, and turned their attention to the problems such as the Panic of 1873 and corruption of Grant’s administration. The commitment to Reconstruction had lessened in the North, and many believed the government didn’t have the power to impose the social and moral changes needed.
Between 1865 and 1875, the Democrats had recaptured the state governments of A.L., A.K., G.A., M.I., N.C., T.N., T.X., and V.A.—this was called the “redemption” and the national election of 1876 had brought Reconstruction to an end. The Republicans chose Rutherford B. Hayes (governor of O.H.) against Governor Samuel J. Tilden of N.Y. who had brought the Tweed ring to its end. Tilden won the popular vote, but fell one electoral vote shy to which a commission was assigned to go over the 20 vote dispute. The republican majority within the commission voted in Hayes. 1st time in history a candidate who lost the popular election became president. Democrats and Republicans made a deal—Compromise of 1877, in which Republican leaders agreed to withdraw troops from L.O. and S.C. and give money to build a railroad from T.X to C.A. as well as improve rivers, harbors, and bridges. After the compromise, the Democrats achieved home rule, or the ability to run state governments without federal intervention. They passed laws to restrict rights of African Americans, wiped out social programs, slashed taxes, and dismantled public schools.
Radical Republicans made several mistakes in their efforts to help former slaves: The 13 th, 14 th & 15 th amendments were successes that remained in the Constitution, although narrowed. (1) They assumed that the extensions of civil rights equaled the protection through participation in government / lawmaking (2) They did not feel that land distribution was necessary, thus negating economic independence (3) They did not realize the extent of deep- seated racism and how it would impact changes made by government.
HW: Ch12 Review Packet- Short Answers due tomorrow. MAY 12 th - Final Project Due!!!