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Rebuilding America: Was Reconstruction a Success Or Failure

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Reconstruction refers to the period following the Civil War of rebuilding the United States. It was a time of great pain and endless questions. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 signed by President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the Confederate states and later all slaves were free according to the Thirteenth amendment in 1865. Even though by law stated slaves were free it seemed as they were still in bondage because they were still treated cruelly and unfairly. Houston Hartsfield Holloway, wrote, ‘For we colored people did not know how to be free and the white people did not know how to have a free colored person about them.’ Freed Slaves were able to fight in war but their full citizenship remained questioned. Black was seen as impure and evil and whites believed that they were not and would never be equal to them.

The Reconstruction was a success in that it restored the United States as a unified nation: by 1877, all of the former Confederate states had drafted new constitutions, acknowledged the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, and pledged their loyalty to the U.S. government. Reconstruction also finally settled the states’ rights vs. federalism debate that had been an issue since the 1790s.The Reconstruction failed with many deaths of freedmen, the Republican legislation ultimately failed to protect former slaves from white harm.

The U.S. Supreme Court made the this anti-progressive movement stronger with decisions in the Slaughterhouse Cases, the Civil Rights Cases, and United States v. Cruikshank that effectively repealed the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1875. When President Rutherford B. Hayes took away fel troops from the South in 1877, people who used to be Confederate officials and slave owners almost right away came back to power. With the of a conservative Supreme Court, these brand new powerful white southern politicians enabled black codes, voter qualifications, and other anti-progressive legislation to reverse the rights that blacks had gotten during the Reconstruction. The sharecropping system, in a way a legal form of slavery that made blacks work to land owned by white farmers, and it became a useful system since the bureau let them free with no money.. With little economic power and no money or land or homes, blacks ended up having to fight for civil rights on their own, as northern whites lost interest in Reconstruction by the mid-1870s. By 1877, northerners were sick of the Reconstruction, scandals, radicals, and the struggle for the black rights.

The Republican Party’s obviously to not popular, strict money policies in response to the depression, such as the Resumption Act of 1875, opened the way for the Democratic Party to make giant political gains, catalyzing the end of Reconstruction. The Resumption Act reduced the amount of money going around in the economy in an effort to make away with inflation caused by the depression of the 20’s. Although the act made good economic conditions for the future of America, it made for rough der times in both the North and South in the closer future. The Act was Republican-sponsored, so Democrats were able to capitalize on its unpopularity to rally support for their party. This more popularity meant into the election victories that made it possible for the Democrats to take the South again, bringing Reconstruction to a close.

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Rebuilding America: Was Reconstruction a Success or Failure. (2021, November 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from
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