The Reconstruction Era

Emily Larson

The Civil Rights Amendments

The 13th Amendment: declared that, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

The 14th Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state where they reside. No state can make or enforce any law which will abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprove any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The 15th Amendment: "Granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude"

Plans for Reconstruction

President Lincoln's Plan:

1. General amnesty would be granted to all who would take an oath of loyalty to the United States and pledge to obey all of the federal laws pertaining to slavery.

2. High Confederate officials and military leaders were to be temporarily excluded from the whole process.

3. When 1/10 of the number of voters who had participated in the election of 1860 had taken the oath within the state they lived, that state could start a new government and elect representatives to Congress.

Johnson's Plan:

1. Pardons would be given to all those who had taken the oath of loyalty.

2. No pardons would be given to high Confederate officials and people owning property which valued over $20,000.

3. Slavery HAD to be abolished before the state could be readmitted into the Union.

4. The states were required to repeal its secession ordinance before they were able to be readmitted.

Congress' Plan:

1. A state must have a majority within the borders take the oath of loyalty.

2. Each state must formally abolish slavery.

3. No Confederate officials would be allowed to participate in the new governments.

Radical Repulican Plan:

1. To gain revenge against the south for starting the war.

2. Help former slaves feel free now that they actually are free

3. Keep the Republican party in power in both the North and the South

The Black Codes

In 1865 and 1866, state governments in the South enacted laws designed to make the lives of former slaves more regular. The laws were different from state to state, but they all revised the earlier slave laws. Some common elements appeared in all of them:

  • Race was define by the persons blood; the presence of any amount of black blood made a person black
  • Employment was required of all freedmen; violators faced charges
  • Freedmen could not assemble without the presence of a white person
  • Freedmen were assumed to be agricultural workers and their duties and hours were regulated strictly
  • Freedmen couldn't be taught to read or write
  • Public facilities were segregated
  • Violators of these laws were subject to being whipped or perhaps branded

Effects of the Black Codes

The Black Codes were the white people's idea of keeping the African Americans doing what they wanted. Because of the Black Codes the African Americans weren't able to work in any jobs that weren't agricultural, they had tight schedules, and they had select freedom. The couldn't vote, couldn't be in the same public places as white people, and their kids couldn't go to the same schools or churches as the whites. Everything was segregated.

Racism and Discrimination

Voting Rights: The 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote. Although measures were taken to keep African Americans from voting for any party for the North.

Ku Klux Klan: The Ku Klux Klan is a racist, anti-Semitic movement with a commitment to extreme violence to achieve its goals of racial segregation and white supremacy. Of all the types of right-wing hate groups that exist in the United States, the Klan remains the one with the greatest number of national and local organizations around the country.

History of the Klan:

Founder: Confederate Civil War veterans Captain John C. Lester, Major James R. Crowe, John D. Kennedy, Calvin Jones, Richard R. Reed, Frank O. McCord
Founded: 1866
Headquarters: Each different Klan group has its own headquarters.
Background: The Klan has fragmented into more than 40 separate factions of varying sizes. There is no “one” Ku Klux Klan.
Estimated size: There are over a hundred different chapters in the various Klan organizations, with varying memberships. Overall, there may be as many as 5,000 members and associates of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan is strongest in the South and in the Midwest.
Criminal Activity: The Klan has a relatively high association with criminal activity, ranging from hate crimes to acts of domestic terrorism.
Media: Mass mailings, leafleting and the Internet
Strategy: Public rallies and protests, "adopt a highway" programs and other attention getting stunts, Internet
Ideology: White supremacist ideology not far from that of neo-Nazis, although it tends to be more Christian-oriented and to stress nativism.
Affiliations: National Socialist Movement, Aryan Nations, Christian Identity groups
Financial support: Little. Most funding comes from membership dues and sales of Klan paraphernalia.

The Ku Klux Klan first emerged following the Civil War as America’s first true terrorist group. Since its began, the Ku Klux Klan has seen several cycles of growth and collapse, and in some of these cycles the Klan has been more extreme than in others. In all of its efforts, however, the Klan has maintained its dual heritage of hate and violence. At first, the Ku Klux Klan focused its anger and violence on African-Americans, on white Americans who stood up for them, and against the federal government which supported their rights.

African Americans stood up for themselves and protected their new rights by building schools, getting different jobs, and building churches. They didn't really have anything when the war ended so by defending their religious and educational rights they greatly stood up for themselves.

The End of Reconstruction

President Hayes won the election by one electoral vote. Democrats in the House protested by struck a deal, The Compromise of 1877. As the Democrats accepted Hayes as President the Republicans promised to removed the rest of the troops out of the south thus ending the federal protection, and put an end to the Reconstruction Era.