What were the accomplishments of Reconstruction and why did it finally fail? what were the political,social,and economic sources of its demise?
After the devastating Civil War the government of the US had a very hard task of southern Reconstruction. The Reconstruction had to achieve three main goals: renovate the Union and make the country more integrated; restore the South and pass legislation to favor the blacks, who were completely free by that time. It was a huge challenge, as the plantation economy, which was at the same time the basis of the southern economy experiences a deep crisis. The military defeat of slave-owning plantators and the emancipation of slaves was only the first phase of the Civil War. After, the state has to confiscate land from plantators, distribute it equally among landless blacks and whites.
The issue of voting was also very urgent and important in the Reconstruction period. First of all measures were taken to limit the voting rights of those who lost the war. Secondly, after the emancipation of slaves there were a lot of people waiting to be given the right to vote. By the end of 1867 the entire male population have received their voting rights. Also, during the reconstruction approximately 1500 African Americans were elected to local authorities of southern states. To some other accomplishments of reconstruction one can attribute the integration of Southern and Northern economies and the enactment of the Enforcement act of 1870, that claimed that all the citizens “shall be entitled and allowed to vote at all such elections, without distinction of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (3)
The Reconstruction era had brought a lot of positive changes to the society, but it also had its failures. Southern economy was in stagnation, as a huge number of cotton plantations was reduced to a couple of tenant farms. The Democrats had monopolized the power. “Racism became more deeply embedded in American society.” (2)
If we look back and deeply analyze the Reconstruction period, it can be easily noticed that it had more negative impact on the society, and has led to a lot of negative consequences in the future. “The chance to rebuild Southern society ultimately ended with the failure of Reconstruction” (Olson 12)
Olson, Ron. Homework Helpers. from Reconstruction through the Dawn of the 21st Century. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career, 2007. Print.
"Digital History." Digital History. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013. <http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2>.
Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1870, 1871, 1875." Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1870, 1871, 1875. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013. <http://www.arch.ksu.edu/jwkplan/law/civil rights acts of 1866, 1870, 1871, 1875.htm