How and why did the U.S. attempt to reconstruct the South after the Civil War? Was the attempt successful? What should the U.S. have done differently, and how might different policies back then have changed the way things are today?
After the end of the Civil war in the year 1865, much of the land of the South fell prey of the destruction of the war. The need of the reconstruction of the South was an evident fact. The plan of reconstruction of the South was inspired by the approach of President Lincoln, who intended to reunite the nation at the earliest. The obligation of the consideration was the agreement over the ban on slavery that could grant at least 10% votes for the pledge of being loyal to the US and getting the privilege of readmittance in the Union. Hence, the proposition of the reconstruction was developed over an obvious agenda (to reunite the Union) (Jacoby). However, the political controversy ended the reconstruction in despair.
Hence, the reconstruction of the South was aimed against the defined purpose to be readmitted into the Union, accommodating the political changes of the time. These include, the freedom of the slaves after the war and the passing of the 13th amendment to the resolution of banning slavery forever in the United States (Jacoby). The details of the events with subsequent influences are discussed below with references.
Pertaining to the fact that the constitution of The US provided very limited or no guidance over the purpose of reconstruction (to reunite nation), Congress took the support of Freedmen agency other than 13th amendment to develop the structure of reconstruction (Jacoby). Freedmen’s Bureau, which was the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands established schools to educate the slaves.
However, it was only the first step planned for the reconstruction of the South that the incidence of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by a Southerner occurred only after 6 days of the war (Jacoby). Vice-president Andrew Johnson was handed over the responsibilities of the President. The murder of Lincoln at this point completely wrenched the reconstruction plan from its original strategy.
The new laws and regulations developed under the presidency of Andrew Johnson did not prove much favorable for the purpose of reconstruction of the South (to reunite nation). The introduction of the Black codes stirred the consciousness of the Blacks and provoked them(Jacoby). The black codes were the set of law that forced the African American to exert on farms as labors. It further refrained them to rent properties, owe weapons and curtail the public meeting, as well.
The imposition of the added tax along with the reflection on the rights of proprietorship played its part. Furthermore, the voting rights of the African American were also restricted. The impositions soon agitated the Radical Republicans who were determined to ensure the changes in favor of African American before the readmittance in the Union. Finally, the 14th amendment nailed the contradiction of promise and practice and made the Republican to accuse Johnson for impeachment (Jacoby).
Precisely, it was the controversy of the determination that brought chaos to reconstruction. Even though, the 15th amendment was an attempt to behold the aggression, but by that time the concept racism and discrimination turned the society towards brutality and extremism(Jacoby). The time soon after the Civil which could have been utilized to educate society for refinement turned period into an adverse state. The introduction and implementation of policies and practices supporting the African American segregation through black Code ad 14th amendment nailed the point that the approach of the authorities has not yet shuffled after such a huge loss (Jacoby).
The result was a reversion of the wheel to the same point from where the Civil war begun. In fact, the intensity of the aggression was further aggregated this time because of the feeling of betrayal. Evidently, if the initial policies would have secured the essential and predetermined rights of African American, the reconstruction would have proved much more fruitful in the US.