Civil War Reconstruction

Troy Muenzenberger

Civil Rights Amendments

During the Reconstruction there were three key amendments that would be put into place. First, htere was the 13th amendment. The 13th amendment gave freedom to all slaves by the end of the U.S civil war. This would completely change the lives of all southern slave owners. All of a sudden, African Americans who could have been under one master for over 50 years, now were free to leave the plantations. This would actually be a daunting prospect for African Americans because many had no money and no way to make a living besides going back to farming for either the same master or someone new. "Freedom" was not what it was said to be for many African Americans, and it wouldn't be until the removal of sharecropping and advancing civil rights in the mid 1900s before African Americans would truely have freedom. Next, the 14th amendment was set into place. The 14th amendment gave citizenship to all people who were born or naturalized in the United States. This Amendment was a step to try to ensure atleast a sense of equality with immigrants and African Americans. As with the 13th amendment, this would not be true citizenship with equal rights until the mid 1900s. Finally the 15th amendment came into place. The 15th amendment gave the right to vote to all United States citizens. Thanks to the 14th amendment most African Americans had a chance to change the leaders of the government. The earliest example of this is when African Americans would give Grant a narrow victory over his democratic opponet during his first election.

Plans for Reconstruciton

During the Reconstruction there were three plans for the civil war Reconstruction. President Lincoln's plan was called the "10% Plan", this would mean that Lincoln wanted to get the southern states back into the Union as quick as possible and to concrete the entire country back together. Also Lincoln would give pardon to all but the highest ranking military or cival confederate officers. Next, Lincoln wanted to seperate southern states into military districts. Finally, Lincoln did not consult Congress on this plan. This greatly angered Congress, and would make then create their own plan for the Reconstruction. Congress on the other hand wanted to create a much more radical plan for southern states. Congress created the "Wade-Davis" bill which instead required 50% of southern voters to swear loyalty to the Union instead of Lincoln's 10%. Also Congress would require souther states to convien a state constitutional convention to rewrite the state constitution before state officals could be placed back in office. After Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson the new president, would create a plan that was a combination of both plans. First, Johnson agreed with Lincoln on state seperation. Next, he offered pardon only to poor and low rank military officers. Then Johnson would appoint southern state leaders. Next, Johnson would would pardon planter aristocrats and require southern states to rewrite their constitution to remove slavery and pay war debts. Johnson would also require southern states to have 50% of the voters swear loyalty to the Union. Many southern states would not be able to meet the requirements to rejoin the Union.

The Black Codes

Almost immediately the south counters with the Black Codes to African American freedom. The Black Codes were a way for southerns to in some form keep their superiority over African Americans, and to try to ensure that they would not gain any form of independence. The Black Codes started share cropping. Share cropping was a lien system where poor whites or blacks had to borrow from merchants with credit to farm land that was rented to them from landowners. These landowners would receive 50% of the share cropper's harvest and would provide an initial shack to live in. Next, the share cropper would use their crops as credit to a merchant for all the equipment needed to farm for that year. By the end of the year, the farmer had little or no profit, and most times would become farther and farther in debt. The Black Codes was very similar to slavery except for the fact that poor blacks and whites were "free", they were just in debt for the rest of their life.

Racism Against African Americans

As seen in the previous topic, African Americans were not being treated fairly at all, but farming was not the only area where they had disadvantages. African Americans were obviously not loved by southerners at all, but even most northerners had a distaste for African Americans and did not mind that they were being segregated from whites. African Americans were also very unprepared for freedom, and were out of work and had to take up many of the end jobs that they had to do in slavery before. African Americans now even "worked" for factory owners for very low wages just for a job as well. Next, with the creation of the Jim Crow laws African Americans would be even farther segregated, now for just their skin color not just for their economic situation. African Americans would have separate schools,seats,restaurants,churches, and even water fountains then whites. This trend would just continue until whites and blacks only thing in common was a shared road space. Another example of white racism against African Americans would be the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan was a group of whites that wore hoods to hide their identity when they commited crimes against African Americans. The Klan was never trully punished by the government. The Klan can be found even today. Because of racism to African Americans would continue to be segregated for over a hundred years after they were called "free" and had "equal rights" with the "citizenship" that they were granted.

End of the Reconstruction

The Reconstruction would end by 1877. The first event that led to this was the Panic of 1873. The Panic of 1873 caused the populace to lose faith in the Republican party. With wanning support Republicans pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1875. This bill prohibited businesses that served the public from discriminating against African Americans. In 1875 southern whites calling theirselfs the redeemers killed African Americans who delcared their intention of voting Republican. With the 1876 election redeemers would focus on the election between Democrat Samuel J. Tilden against Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden beat Hayes in the popular vote, but Hayes won the electoral vote by 1. To prevent the possible crisis, the Compromise of 1877 was created. The Compromise gave Republicans the presidency, but in return Republicans withdrew remaining federal troops from the South. Without federal help the Reconstruction governments fell. Southern state constitutions were reverted back and everything gained for black independence was undone.