Unit 10


SS8H6c: Analyze the impact of Reconstruction on Georgia & other Southern states, emphasizing Freedman's Bureau, sharecropping & tenant farming; Reconstruction plans; 13th, 14th & 15th amendments to the constitution; Henry McNeal Turner & black legislators; & the Ku Klux Klan

What is Reconstruction?

To rebuild after damage or destruction
Reconstruction and 1876: Crash Course US History #22
Reconstruction in Georgia was a time of major change in the state after the devastation of the Civil War. It was a short period of time (1865 - 1872), but the impact on the state is still evident today. The majority of Georgia had been destroyed by Sherman and 4 years worth of fighting. Over 40,000 Georgians were killed or wounded and many lost their land. The US attempted to "reconstruct" the South, using 3 different ways: congressional, military & presidential.

African-Americans & Republicans gained power in Georgia for a period of time. Slavery was abolished and more freedoms were allowed due to organizations like the Freedman's Bureau. However, once Reconstruction was over, southern Democrats gained authority. White supremacy & Jim Crow laws became the law in the South for over 90 years.

3 phases of Reconstruction

The Freedmen's Bureau

The Freedmen's Bureau, or The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands, was created to help African-Americans adjust to their newly gained freedoms. It also supported poor white in the South. It provided food to those affected by the war, helped build freedmen's schools & hospitals, supervised labor contracts & other legal disputes. It was, overall, moderately successful. Early on, it fed, clothed & sheltered those most affected by the war. It also created the first public school system for students, setting the stage for Georgia's modern day public school system. Some of the schools established by the Freedmen's Bureau continue to this day, like Clarke Atlanta University & Morehouse College.

Sharecropping & Tenant Farming

Big image
After the Civil War, the people of the Southern states had little of everything, especially hard currency. Confederate money was worthless, land owners could not pay their workers & workers could not find jobs that would be able to pay in wages. Sharecropping & tenant farming SHOULD have been a beneficial to both the land owner & employee. Land & other resources were provided to the laborer in return for the laborer working the land. However, landowners found ways to take advantage of the system, making their employees indebted to them in order to prevent them from being able to buy their own land & being able to take leadership roles in cultural, economic & political areas in the South.

Similarities: laborers were usually poor & illiterate whites & blacks, agreement to exchange labor & a portion of crops to the land owner in return for land to work, certain necessities had to be purchased from the landowner's store causing many to become deeply indebted to the landowner & decreasing their chances of getting out

Difference: Tenant farmers usually owned their own tools, animals & other equipment. Sharecroppers had nothing

Sharecropping & tenant farming made up the agricultural system in Georgia until the mid-twentieth century. It began to decline with the Great Migration of African-Americans and rural whites moving to the North and cities in the South during and after WWI, the devastation of the boll weevil in the 1910s & 20s, and technological advances in farming equipment.

Henry McNeal Turner & Black Legislators

Henry McNeal Turner
For a short period of time, during Reconstruction, African-American freedmen were given lots of political rights, primarily the right to vote. 32 black legislators were elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1867. Among these legislators was Henry McNeal Turner.

Henry McNeal Turner was born in 1834 in South Carolina. His family had been free for 2 generations. When he was 15, he worked for a law firm where he was provided an education due to his intelligence. In 1853, at the age of 19, he received his preaching license. He began traveling throughout the South, including Georgia, where he preached & held revivals, In 1858, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri to become minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

During the Civil War, Turner organized a unit of African-American troops & served as chaplain of the regiment. After the war, he traveled throughout Georgia, converting former slaves to the AME Church. In 1867, he helped organize the Republican party in the state, contributing to his election to the Constitutional Convention of 1867 & the GA House of Representatives.

Turner's life held much controversy & disappointment. He was threatened by the KKK, expelled from his seat in the House of Representatives in 1868 & framed for unethical practices in 1869. He was able to retain his senate seat with the help of Congress in 1870, but soon lost it in a fraudulent election. He then became bishop of the AME church, established his own newspaper& was an advocate of African-American migration to African.

Like Turner, other black legislators suffered hardships during their time in office. They were constantly harassed and many were expelled by both the Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly in 1868. Many were threatened by the KKK with over 1/4 of them being beaten, killed or jailed during their term. By 1908, black legislators were legally disenfranchised (deprived of power). It wasn't until 1962, with the election of Leroy Johnson, that African-Americans held a seat in Georgia's General Assembly again.

The Ku Klux Klan

Big image
The 1st Ku Klux Klan (KKK) began in 1867 in Tennessee. It was a loosely governed organization that consisted mostly of Confederate veterans. It began as a social group for former soldiers, but quickly became more violent and political. Soon after creation, they began using terroristic actions to intimidate freed blacks and white Republicans (Carpetbaggers: whites who moved from the North; Scalawags: white allies from the South) who ran for office during Reconstruction. They also used tactics of intimidation, physical violence & murder against black organizations like Freedmen schools & churches in hopes of establishing social control over African Americans & their white allies.

The KKK was successful in their political goals as Democrats gained control of Georgia politics in 1871. It would be over 100 years before Republicans gained control in the state again. They were a major force in the state during Reconstruction. White supremacy & racial segregation became the norm in Georgia, & the rest of the South, for several decades.

Some groups disbanded around 1871 when Congress passed the Force Act of 1870 & Civil Rights Act of 1871 (aka Ku Klux Klan Act). Both acts gave permission to federal authorities to fight & arrest members of the Klan. They resurfaced again around 1915.