In 1865, after two and a half centuries of brutal enslavement, Black Americans had great hope that emancipation would finally mean real freedom and opportunity. Most formerly enslaved people in the United States were remarkably willing to live peacefully with those who had held them in bondage despite the violence they had suffered and the degradation they had endured.
Emancipated Black people put aside their enslavement and embraced education, hard work, faith, and citizenship with extraordinary enthusiasm and devotion. By 1868, over 80 percent of Black men who were eligible to vote had registered, schools for Black children became a priority, and courageous Black leaders overcame enormous obstacles to win elections to public office.
The new era of Reconstruction offered great promise and could have radically changed the history of this country. However, it quickly became clear that emancipation in the United States did not mean equality for Black people. The commitment to abolish chattel slavery was not accompanied by a commitment to equal rights or equal protection for African Americans and the hope of Reconstruction quickly became a nightmare of unparalleled violence and oppression.
Between 1865 and 1877, thousands of Black women, men, and children were killed, attacked, sexually assaulted, and terrorized by white mobs and individuals who were shielded from arrest and prosecution. White perpetrators of lawless, random violence against formerly enslaved people were almost never held accountable—instead, they frequently were celebrated. Emboldened Confederate veterans and former enslavers organized a reign of terror that effectively nullified constitutional amendments designed to provide Black people equal protection and the right to vote.
In a series of devastating decisions, the United States Supreme Court blocked Congressional efforts to protect formerly enslaved people. In decision after decision, the Court ceded control to the same white Southerners who used terror and violence to stop Black political participation, upheld laws and practices codifying racial hierarchy, and embraced a new constitutional order defined by “states’ rights.”
Within a decade after the Civil War, Congress began to abandon the promise of assistance to millions of formerly enslaved Black people. Violence, mass lynchings, and lawlessness enabled white Southerners to create a regime of white supremacy and Black disenfranchisement alongside a new economic order that continued to exploit Black labor. White officials in the North and West similarly rejected racial equality, codified racial discrimination, and occasionally embraced the same tactics of violent racial control seen in the South.
It was during Reconstruction that a century-long era of racial hierarchy, lynching, white supremacy, and bigotry was established—an era from which this nation has yet to recover.
Most Americans know very little about the Reconstruction era and its legacy. Historians have frequently overlooked this critical 12-year period that has had profound impact on life in the United States. Our collective ignorance of what happened immediately after the Civil War has contributed to misinformed stereotypes and misguided false narratives about who is honorable and who is not and has allowed bigotry and a legacy of racial injustice to persist.
In 2015, the Equal Justice Initiative issued a new report that detailed over 4,400 documented racial terror lynchings of Black people in America between 1877 and 1950.
We now report that during the 12-year period of Reconstruction at least 2,000 Black women, men, and children were victims of racial terror lynchings.
Thousands more were assaulted, raped, or injured in racial terror attacks between 1865 and 1877. The rate of documented racial terror lynchings during Reconstruction is nearly three times greater than during the era we reported on in 2015. Dozens of mass lynchings took place during Reconstruction in communities across the country in which hundreds of Black people were killed.
Tragically, the rate of unknown lynchings of Black people during Reconstruction is also almost certainly dramatically higher than the thousands of unknown lynchings that took place between 1877 and 1950 for which no documentation can be found. The retaliatory killings of Black people by white Southerners immediately following the Civil War alone likely number in the thousands.
EJI presents this report to provide context and analysis of what happened during this tragic period of American history and to describe its implications for the issues we face today. We believe our nation has failed to adequately address or acknowledge our history of racial injustice and that we must commit to a new era of truth-telling followed by meaningful efforts to repair and remedy the continuing legacy of racial oppression. We hope this report sparks much needed conversation and encourages communities to join us in the important task of advancing truth and justice.
Below is an AI-generated transcript complete with timecodes. This transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the podcast episode.
Scott Rank 0:12
History isn’t just a bunch of names and dates and facts. It’s the collection of all the stories throughout human history that explained how and why we got here. Welcome to the history unplugged Podcast, where we look at the forgotten, neglected, strange, and even counterfactual stories that made our world what it is. I’m your host, Scott rank.
Cold War was a multi decades-long period after world war two where many people thought that the United States and Russia would mobilize into Total War committing their whole military-industrial complex to the effort and probably exchanging nuclear weapons and never happened but there was a simmering standoff for decades military outposts with each other across The Bering Strait or the Black Sea. This was the big Cold War of the 20th century. But there were smaller local theaters of this, like North and South Korea across their demilitarized zone. But there was another cold war in American history that I want to look at. That’s a period of reconstruction. reconstruction was a period right after the Civil War, and an effort to reconstruct the South when the economy was almost completely destroyed. Much like after World War Two, it was a period of massive rebuilding. Also, much like after World War Two, there were a number of different ways that the country could go, would the two sides eventually be able to come back together and live in peace? Would there be another major battle between the two sides? Or would there be simmering tensions that would never fully be resolved? There were all sorts of questions in 1865. What would the federal government’s policy be toward the defeated southern states? The Constitution didn’t have any provisions for anything like what had happened? And they didn’t even know if the power to restore the southern states was with the president or with the Congress. In this episode, we’re going to be looking at the period of reconstruction. I’m doing so because I was asked by a listener, Nick Brooks to look at this period. And he said I’d really love an episode on Southern reconstruction. I was never taught in school, what actually happened? Where did all the slaves go? Did some stay? How did the South financially recover? What actually went on? Well, there’s a lot to cover in this episode. So first, I’m going to look at the new constitutional order of the United States. reconstruction was probably the most watershed period in American history except for the founding of the United States because there were a number of amendments that were introduced the 13th, then 14th, and the 15th, which was adopted from 1865 to 1870. That completely put the United States on a different path. The last amendment that had been added to the constitution was in 1804. And it was basically to tidy up the work of the founding fathers, for the purpose of the reconstruction amendments was, as Abraham Lincoln said, transform the United States away from a country that was half slave and half free into one that guaranteed liberty to all the population, including former slaves and their descendants. So very briefly, the 13th amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except if you were convicted of a crime,
the 14th amendment gave equal rights and protection of the law for all persons. That had to be explicitly stated because you would have citizens and subjects in different parts of the world. Brazil still had slavery, Russia within very recent many had servitude and serfdom. And finally, the last amount was the 15th amendment that prohibits discrimination in voting rights of citizens on the basis of race color or previous condition of servitude, etc. But as we’re going to see in decades later, many towns and counties and states found very creative ways to get around the 15th amendment. The purpose of all this was to guarantee the freedom of former slaves. But they were eroded by state laws and federal court decisions throughout the 19th century. With the end of the act of the reconstruction period in 1876, some states passed Jim Crow laws that would limit the rights of African Americans. Okay, so we’re going to look at that, but this isn’t just going to be a legal examination. We’re also going to look at the people that made up reconstruction. Where did all the free slaves go after emancipation? Did they largely stay in the places where they were slaves? Did Some even say on their own plantations? Did they completely just start a new life? Well look at people who come from the north to the south, infamously carpetbaggers, and also the Cold War aspects of reconstruction about the north-south entity that lived on for over a century, and that regional differences in the United States are still very pronounced. So this could be a legacy that still goes on today. First, let’s take a look at some of the people that make up the reconstruction period. The first are the carpetbaggers, and this is a derogatory term for them. But you can still find the term if somebody is running for office in a state or district where they don’t live there just plopping in there so they can win a contest. This is a term to apply for somebody from the north who relocated to the south during the reconstruction period from 1865 to 1877. These are some of the early fixtures of the reconstruction period. It was applied to adventurers similar to those who would go in a land rush or gold rush. And also northern politicians whom southerners accused of coming to the south to take advantage of newly freed black men and women in order to obtain a political office or make a profit. The reason they were called carpetbaggers is that they were thought of as strangers that had nothing more than that, that could be carried in a satchel or carpet bag. So there are people who are taking advantage of an area against the wishes of the people who live there. But for those in the south, they really didn’t have much of a choice. The southern economy was in ruins with the scorched earth campaign of the Northern army and the destruction of railroads, crops, farm fields, and other things as well. The South badly needed capital investment. For Northerners, the South was an area of opportunity and you could buy goods and services at fire-sale prices. A lot of these Northerners were ex-soldiers who could have been shooting at some of the people they were living amongst now. But not everyone was. Many came because they thought they could quickly become rich. And a lot thought that they could easily raise cotton and sell it as a cash crop. Some bought land some leased it, others invested in businesses or banks. And at the beginning, these Northerners were well received.
But as reconstruction went on, and there were sharply divided political approaches on how to read integrate the South in the United States, as we’ll talk about later. These Northerners were characterized by the south as the exploitative and decadent nature of Northern society that was trained to prey upon the honorable southerners. People from the north, many of the Northern migrants weren’t wealthy, a lot were middle class. And some might have had pure motives thinking that they could come to the south and transform it from an agrarian economy that’s based on slavery and forced labor into an egalitarian one and a more industrial economy like what was up north, and a lot of these Northerners were allies of the freedmen and women after emancipation. Northerners were also typically Republicans, as were many of the freedmen. All it took was a year of residents in a state in the reconstruction south to be able to vote and hold office. So many transplanted Northerners ran and held political office and ran for the Republican Party, representing largely black constituencies. So as the years of reconstruction went on, The division and anger between white Northerners and southerners intensified. Southerners in their opinion, these northern migrants didn’t understand the relationship between blacks and whites in the region. And were cynically exploiting what was going on there in order to profit off the people against their wishes, or by ironic in light of slavery, but that was a prevailing opinion there. The reconstruction state legislatures that were led by Republicans were considered corrupt and incompetent. But it probably wasn’t much worse than in the other state governments in the 19th century. reconstruction state governments probably got in more trouble due to overspending by trying to revive economies and rebuild infrastructure after the states have become bankrupt after the war. Now, in this early wave of Northerners coming down to the south and representing black constituencies, you actually have black politicians for the first time who are representing their own constituencies. I thought it’d be good to take a short look at the first black senator in the United States. That was Hiram Rhoades rebels. He was in the Senate, the US Senate for just over a year. When he entered the chambers on February 25, 1870, there was resounding applause in the senate chambers. He was highly educated. He was born in 1827. His parents were free black Americans in North Carolina. And he attended college and seminary. And after the war, he settled in Mississippi where he was a pastor and an educator. So he was very highly educated, or a nonwhite person in the United States at the time. You want to see in the Mississippi State Senate in 1869 after friends encouraged him to run. Now, this seems strange, how does Mississippi one of the most stalwart states in the Confederacy go from actively joining a war effort to sustain slavery to having a black US senator. Part of it has to do with the strange nature of the US Senate during the Civil War. The Senate seat for Mississippi The United States Senate had basically been vacant since the state seceded in 1861 because they were sending their senators to the Confederate Senate. By the end of the 1860s, the federal government had begun the task of allowing southern states to have rejoined the union and send senators again. Rebels were chosen to fill one of those Mississippi seats. The Mississippi State Legislature in 1870 wanted to elect a black man to fill the remainder of one term, which was set to expire in 1871 for the seat once held by democratic senator Albert Brown, but they wanted to fill the other unexpired term ended in 1875. With a white candidate. Black legislators agreed to the deal believing that an election of one of their own would be a blow against color line prejudices. They said. The Democratic minority endorsed the plan, hoping that a black senator would damage the public publican party. So this was a tactical move by the Democratic Party to attack the Republican Party what they consider to be allied with the north and with Carpetbaggers. On January 20, 1870. The Mississippi State legislature voted 85 to 15 to see Hiram revels in Brown’s former seat. Rebels were only in DC for a short time, but he was known for his moderate republican stance, he was a skilled order. He supported amnesty for southern states and argued against the illegal separation of races and for the education of all black Americans. He said during his term,
I find that the prejudice in this country to color is very great. And I sometimes fear that it is on the increase, that the nation should take a step for the encouragement of this prejudice against the color race. Can they have any grounds upon which to predicate a hope that heaven will smile upon them and prosper them? Okay, so lets we’ll back around and look at the actual mechanics of reconstruction and how America plans to put itself back together again after I had been split apart, Andrew Johnson became president following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865. He supported amnesty for Confederates,
Unknown Speaker 12:10
but, but he
Scott Rank 12:12
wanted to make a list that would require presidential pardons. For anyone who had Well, there was an excess of $20,000. The purpose of this was to punish the planet or class, which were the wealthy in the antebellum south, which Johnson considered responsible for persuading southerners to support secession. He favored the gradual introduction of black suffrage, but he didn’t insist on it as an immediate requirement. This put them in opposition to a group known as the Radical Republicans. This was a faction of the republican party that wanted stricter reconstruction policy. They wanted a huge expansion of the power of the federal government over states, as well as guarantees of black suffrage. Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner spoke of the former Confederate States is having committed suicide. Congressman Thaddeus Stephens of Pennsylvania went further describing the states who succeeded as conquered provinces into Johnson’s reconstruction plan was proceeding by the time Congress convened in 1865. But Congress refused to seat representatives from southern states, even though they had organized governments according to the terms of Lincoln’s or Johnson’s plan. Contemporary critics of the Radical Republicans say that they were in it for themselves and were trying to secure the power of the republican party and national political life and appeal to the newly freed population in the south. But Radical Republicans themselves would say that dramatic change was necessary in order to dismantle slavery even if the action seems shocking. Connecticut Senator James Dixon argued that the purpose of the radicals was the saving of the Republican Party, rather than the restoration of the Union. This is also the view of General Sherman who said that the whole idea of giving votes to the Negroes was there create just that many votes to be used by others for political purposes. expresses displeasure with a plan quote, whereby politicians may manufacturer just so much more pliable electioneering material. And radical republican Thaddeus Stevens said that the votes of the freed slaves were necessary in order to bring about perpetual ascendancy to the party of the Union. That is the Republican Party. Henry Ward Beecher was also concerned about the radicals. Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, had been a fierce opponent of slavery and helped to arm opponents of slavery in Kansas. But he warned his countrymen of the party split the animated the radicals, he said. It has said that, if admitted to Congress, the southern senators and representatives will coalesce with northern democrats and rule the country is this nation then to remain dismembered to serve the ends of parties?
Unknown Speaker 14:49
Have we learned
Scott Rank 14:50
no wisdom by the history of the past 10 years, which just this course of sacrificing the nation to the exigencies of parties plunges into rebellion and war As we can see here, the question about what to do after emancipation was not clean or easy. And groups of people that had been unified during the Civil War, unified for the cause of emancipation. Now that they had it, they were splintering into different factions about how to actually go and see this about. Otto Scott was a 20th-century northern writer who observed the radical vindictiveness Following the war, including the insistence that the South was out of the union and not entitled to congressional representation. He said to win that war, and then to refuse to allow the south to remain in the Union was not only logically perverse but a tacit admission that the war had not been about slavery. But as an all in every war power. And in previous podcasts episodes, I’ve talked about the narrative that took hold shortly after the Civil War, that the South wasn’t really fighting about slavery, but states rights and this view was popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries because the early histories of the civil war were written by southerners But this has fallen out of favor. So that’s an example of that. One of the most contentious issues after the Civil War was the black coats, sometimes called Black laws, which were laws that govern the conduct of African Americans or free blacks. They were passed in 1865 in 1866 by southern states to restrict African American’s freedom and pick compel them to work for low wages. These predate the Civil War, and many northern states had them before the Civil War. These laws denied equal political rights, including the right to vote the right to attend law schools and the right to equal treatment under the law. White-dominated Southern legislatures in the first few years after the Civil War passed black codes modeled after earlier slave codes. They controlled movement and labor freedmen and restricted black Americans to certain jobs. There were restrictions placed on intermarriage and concubine edge in miscegenation laws. Black codes are stricter black people’s right to own property, do business, buy and lease land, and move freely through public spaces. The central element of the black codes were vagrancy laws, where states criminalized men who were out of work or not working at jobs whites recognized. At the time, the North had vagrancy laws as well. Once stated that one without employment wandering abroad begging and not giving a good account of himself might be imprisoned as a vagrant, and it can be in prison for periods from 90 days to three years. Northern Radical Republicans said that the use of vagrancy laws against freedmen was done in order to keep them in a state of perpetual serfdom. But others argue that it was to end what had become an intolerable situation. A large number of people, a large number of freedmen were wandering across the south who were without food or money or jobs or homes, and the situation was leading to crime and fear and violence. And there were problems in the north as well. In Illinois, any freedmen who couldn’t produce a certificate of freedom, who hadn’t posted a bond of $1,000 could be arrested and hired out as labor For a year, Illinois, I continue to forbid the testimony of blacks in cases involving whites. And it was only in 1865, the state repealed the law imposing a fine of $50 on free blacks entering Illinois. Well with the use of vagrancy laws against free blacks and the claim that crime spiked because there were so many itinerant people wandering around the South. It’s worth taking a look at where black Americans went after emancipation. Where do they go where their robes of thousands or 10s of thousands of people trying to find a new place to live and find work after emancipation. The Library of Congress has an extensive collection of the lives of former slaves after emancipation. And one thing they do is chart the movement of former slaves and even after the Emancipation Proclamation, after two years of war after the proclamation from 1863 to 1865, after the service of African American troops in the Union Army and after the defeat of the Confederacy, The question of what to do with these newly freed slaves who are now citizens was something that few had an answer to Congress implemental reconstruction, which lasted from 1866 1877 in order to reorganize the southern states after the war, provide the means for reinventing them into the union and to find means by which whites and blacks could live together in a non-slave society. But much of the South didn’t welcome reconstruction. During the years after the war, missionary organizations, churches, schools, black and white teachers from the north and south, tried to give the emancipated population the opportunity to learn.
More slaves took advantage of the opportunity to become literate. grandfathers and grandchildren sat together in classrooms trying to learn to read. After the 13th 14th and 15th amendments, African Americans had a period where they’re allowed to vote, participate in politics acquire land of former owners, seafarer unemployment, and use public accommodations during Reconstruction. freed slaves began to leave the South. One group from Kentucky establish the community of nikka Demas in 1877 in northwestern Kansas and Graham County, but because of several crop failures and resentment from the county’s white settlers, all but a few homesteaders abandoned their claims had a population of 518 80 but declined to less than 200. By 1910. The nickname is a town company that was incorporated in 1877 by six black into white Kansans. It was the oldest of 20 towns established predominantly for blacks in the West. There was an exodus of blacks from the south after the Civil War, and these migrants became known as exit dusters and the migration became known as the exit duster movement. They were looking in all directions for places to settle. Some even looked abroad with colonization projects to Liberia and locations outside the United States. But others looked in the relatively Unseld regions of the north and west. Benjamin Singleton’s lead a group of African Americans from various points in the south to Kansas. According to the US Census Bureau, we can trace population movements and migration patterns using US Census Bureau data. According to the Atlas for 1890, the heaviest concentrations of non-white populations are overwhelmingly in Maryland and Virginia and southeastern states. But then there are emergency concentrations in northern urban areas in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, in Chicago, southern Ohio, Central Missouri, Eastern Kansas, and scattered areas in the West in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California, showing huge migration patterns after reconstruction. Now, some were able to resettle in different parts of the country. But for many freedmen and freedwomen, they may have had no place to go to very few employable skills, because if they worked on a plantation they might not have been able to do much beyond simple farming, and hundreds of thousands of freed slaves. Face starvation and many face death because we’re given almost no resources. Jim down sort of book called sick from the freedom that shows how dangerous the reconstruction period was. After the chaos of the Civil War, a lot of the manufacturing and farming infrastructure of the United States is broken. After Union soldiers showed up on plantations to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, these freed slaves were neglected by soldiers and they faced rampant disease, including outbreaks of smallpox and cholera, a lot just starve to death. Down’s argues that about a quarter of the 4 million freed slaves either died or suffered from illnesses between 1862 and 1870. He calls it the largest biological crisis of the 19th century. Part of the reason this might not be a well-known fact is that many people didn’t want to investigate the tragedy of the freed slaves after the Civil War and wanted to feel good about the accomplishment that it happened. Many Northerners weren’t terribly sympathetic to the plight of free slaves. anti-slavery abolitionist didn’t want to highlight what was going on, because they feared that it could prove their Southern critics right that ending slavery abruptly would lead to destabilization and chaos. Your Rights in the 19th-century people didn’t want to talk about it. Some people didn’t care. an abolitionist when they saw so many free people dying, feared that it proved true what some people said that slaves were not able to exist on their own. Many freed slaves ended up in encampments called contraband camps that were near Union army bases. But the conditions were unsanitary, and there were few food supplies. Some contraband camps were actually former slave pens, meaning that newly freed people were kept virtual prisoners back in the same cells that had previously held them, or countless deaths in these camps and illnesses and disease. And the only way to leave the camp was agreed to go back to work on the slave plantations from which slaves had recently escaped And Union soldiers sometimes weren’t that much better. One freed slave Joseph Miller, who had come with his wife and four children to a makeshift freed slave refugee camp within the union stronghold of Camp Nelson and Kentucky. In return for food and shelter for his family, Miller joined the army. But Union soldiers in 1864 cleared the ex-slaves out of Camp Nelson, forcing them to scout in a landscape that was completely war-torn. One of the Miller sons quickly seconds and died. Three weeks later, his wife and another son died
10 days after that his daughter died. Finally, his last surviving child also fell terminally ill. Mother himself was dead by 1865. Things were so bad that one military official in Tennessee in 1865 wrote that former slaves were dying by the scores, sometimes 30 per day die, and are carried out by wagon loads without coffins and are thrown promiscuously like brutes into a trench. The health problems of freed slaves are so bad and the death rates were so Hi, that some wondered if they would all die out at the time. One white religious leader in 1863 expected black Americans to vanish. Like his brother, the Indian of the forest, he must melt away and disappear forever from the midst of us, he said. So emancipation was a complex and difficult process that sometimes wasn’t much better than the slave conditions they had faced before the war. Now all this makes it sound like doom and gloom after reconstruction, which for many people it was, but there were improvements for Friedman and freedwomen in the south. By 1866, most southern states had enacted statutes to protect blacks right to hold property, to have recourse to the courts and to testify in all cases in which at least one party was black, which was more than existed during the period of slavery when they had essentially no legal rights. legislators in southern states called for the liberalization of state policy toward blacks, even in Mississippi, which had the most stringent black codes. The Columbus Sentinel called the architects of the restrictive code, shallow headed majority more anxious to make capital at home than depreciate the powers at Washington, there is complete a set of political gods, as wherever turned loose to work destruction upon a state. The fortunes of the whole South have been injured by their folly. Another issue of contention between North and South and emerged right after the war, was the honoring and revering of Confederate figures, an issue that still exists today with arguments about Confederate monuments and Confederate street names and naming schools and public locations after Confederate soldiers and generals saying, why would you honor somebody who was from one opinion a traitor to the union? One radical
republican that is Stephen, his friend Express shock that while they acknowledge themselves whipped and profess future loyalty, he’s talking about Southern politicians. Confederate generals are their heroes, Confederate bravery and endurance center difficulties, their pride, and most Confederate dead their martyrs. In all the stores of Richmond, I did not see the picture of a single Union General or politician, but any number of rebels. Andrew Johnson was a little bit more sympathetic to southerners. And he at least understood why defeated people would have honored their heroes even if he didn’t completely agree with it. He said, People should be allowed to grumble who have suffered so much, and they would be unworthy of the name of men if they did not respect the brave officers who have suffered with them and out of the memory of their gallon dead who sleep on 100 battlefields around their homes. Well, something we’ll do is we’ll around back to the constitutional amendments that came about after reconstruction, the 13th 14th, and 15th amendments. At the time, they were very controversial and another point of division between North and South. The most significant part of the amendment was in the first section. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and other state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. nor shall any state deprive 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. Well, the first ns did was extended American citizenship to all persons born in America and subject to its jurisdiction. This reversed the Dred Scott decision, the declared blacks, not American citizens. Earlier on this podcast, I did an episode where somebody asked me why citizenship isn’t automatically granted Europe and many other countries. And it has to do more with your family connections and whether your predecessors were citizens of that country. Well, America and other countries in the new world do grant automatic citizenship just by virtue of you being born there. And there are all sorts of reasons part of it is the approach to what citizenship means in the new world when almost anyone there unless you’re an indigenous This person is an immigrant in some time. But another reason has to do with this the 14th amendment in response to the civil war so that you wouldn’t be denied citizenship if you’re a former slave. But if you’re born in the United States, then that would make you a citizen. But the remainder of the first section of the 14th amendment still has controversy about its original attack. Harvard’s role Berger has argued that the amendment was modest in scope, and it was intended to empower the federal government to ensure that the states didn’t interfere with the basic rights of the freedmen, right to enter contracts or Sue or own property. James bond argued in the Akron Law Review in 1985, that according to supporters of the amendment, the civil rights that are protected were the right to contract to sue to testify in otherwise resort to the courts. Well, even with this modest scope in mind, southerners believe that granting powers of oversight to the federal government would overtime undermine America’s federal system and that the amendment would only be the biggest In need of our process that will completely destroy states rights against federal rights. Some Northerners had the same idea. Orville browning Andrew Johnson, Secretary of the Interior said, one of the greatest dangers which threaten us now is the tendency to centralization, the absorption of the rights of the states, and the concentration of all power in the general government. When that shall be accomplished, ever, the days of the Republic are numbered. But all these arguments were soon superseded by the 15th amendment in 1870. Section four repudiated the Confederate debt. Section three excluded from American politics, anyone who held any office in the Confederacy. So the natural leadership class of the South was disqualified from office. This section alone made many believe that the South would reject the amendment. Going back to the 14th amendment, the first time it was presented for consideration 10 of the 11 states of the former Confederacy, Tennessee was the exception, didn’t ratify it, but rental republicans were fighting Ways to Make it pass anyway, right after their victory in the 1866 congressional elections. Wisconsin Senator James does little said, the people of the South have rejected the constitutional amendment, and therefore we will march upon them and force them to adopt it at the point of the bayonet, and rule them with military governors and martial law until they do adopt. Congress in 1867, passed a series of reconstruction acts over Johnson’s vetoes. They declared that with the exception of Tennessee,
no legal governments existed in any of the former Confederate States. The 10 states would be divided into five military districts and ruled by military governors and martial law are the states to take their place in the union and regain representation in Congress. It has to do the following. First, elect delegates to state constitutional conventions to draw up new state conventions. Second, in those new constitutions acknowledge the abolition of slavery, the unlawfulness of the secession, and the introduction of black suffrage. Third, ratify the 14th amendment. Johnson said that the reconstruction legislation was in its whole character, scope, and object without precedent and without authority and political conflict with the plainest provisions of the Constitution, and utterly destructive to those great principles of liberty and humanity for which our ancestors on both sides of the Atlantic shed so much blood and expended so much treasure. Johnson was in a strange position where he was taking the side of the former Confederate states and the third annual message to the union. He said that the radical policy had destroyed the union that the framers established. candor compels me to declare that at this time, there is no Union as our fathers understood the term, and as they meant it to be understood by us. The Union which they established can exist only we’re all the states are represented in both houses of Congress, or one state is as free as another to regulate its internal concerns according to its own will. And were the laws of the central government, strictly confined to matters of national jurisdiction, apply with equal force the people of every section. Southern states eventually did ratify the 14th amendment. But the ratification process had all sorts of irregularities. Their initial refusal led to the passage of the reconstruction acts, where the military government was imposed until new civil governments were established in the 14th amendment was ratified. It also prompted Congress to pass a law in 1867 that required the Confederate States to ratify the 14th. the amendment before the state was declared entitled to representation in Congress. There’s an argument to be made that the Radical Republicans were representing the will of the people because they were given a huge victory in the off-year election of 1866. But Howard Beale, who in his 400-page study, the election argues that that’s not completely the case. There were other issues at stake in 1866. Northerners were most concerned about the economy after the war. They didn’t want to readmit to Congress, Southern representatives who would favor lower tariffs since they had profited off of higher tariffs. former New York Governor Horatio Seymour said that the question of terrorists and taxation and other Negro question keeps our country divided. The men of New York were called upon to keep out the southern members because if they were admitted they would vote to uphold or obstruct our commercial greatness. Well, this tension between North and South continued until troops were withdrawn from all southern states by 1877. And at least in the militaristic sense, reconstruction came to an end. But this argument about federal supremacy over the states and argument that, to some degree started, the civil war continued for decades afterward, and the tension between federal and state government continues to today. One last thing I want to look at in this episode of reconstruction is the experience of freed slaves. Something that we’ve seen here is that, although it would be assumed that following the Civil War, it was a period of reharmonization and the stamping out of racism and joy for former slaves that they were freed. There’s actually a lot of mixed emotions going on. And there were even mixed emotions for freed slaves. We have a massive Count of former slave testimonies thanks to the WPA slave narrative Collection. This was a compilation of histories by former slaves, which was undertaken during the Great Depression by the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration, which went from 1936 and 1938, where historians talked to elderly former slaves in their 80s and 90s. To put together a full history of slavery, what they found is for former slaves, one of the first places they went to was the Freedmen’s Bureau. This was established in 1865 by Congress to help the millions of former slaves and also poor whites in the south in the aftermath of the Civil War. Their job was to provide food and housing and medical aid and established schools and legal assistance and to settle former slaves on lands that were confiscated or abandoned during the war. But there weren’t enough funds to do this. But the main point is that when people came to them, one of the first things they wanted to do was find family members who These former slaves have been separated by during the period in which they were enslaved. One of these former slaves was Hawkins Wilson.
He was from the region outside of Galveston, Texas. And he wanted to begin a search for his family, which he hadn’t seen or heard from since he was pulled from a plantation in Virginia 24 years earlier. He sent a letter seeking assistance from the Richmond office of the Freedmen’s Bureau, Europe. I am anxious to learn about my sisters, from whom I’ve been separated for many years. I’m in the hopes that they are still living. He then explained he was sold at the sheriff sale to a Mr. Right of Boyd town courthouse, and he hoped an additional letter that he enclosed could be delivered to a sister. He then wrote, your little brother Hawkins is trying to find out where you are, and where his poor old mother is. I shall never forget the bag of biscuits you made for me the last night I spent with you. He said that he lived an honorable life if they did not meet on earth we might meet and haven’t. He ended the letter by asking the sister to drop back quickly and said she shouldn’t be surprised if I do. Dropping upon you Sunday. But we don’t know if Wilson’s letter was delivered or if he ever reconnected with his family. Well, this is a sad story. And there are many like it for the nearly 4 million African Americans who were enslaved when the civil war began and was then liberated. I mean, it’s a patient was a long process, and it didn’t just happen in one moment. The WPA historians who recorded the experiences of former slaves shows a full spectrum of emotions. They felt ham CMT, who’d been enslaved in Mississippi said, after the surrender, I can remember the Negroes were so happy. They just rang bells blew horns and shouted like they were crazy. Then they brought a brand new rope and cut it up into little pieces, and they gave everyone a little piece. And whenever they look at the rope, they should remember that they were free from bondage. Lafayette’s price of Morgan County, Alabama said that the joy of emancipation meant that I’m as free as a frog because the frog had the freedom to jump when and where he pleased. But many realize that dangerous Coming. wl boasts said that freedom meant being just like a turtle cautiously peeking out of the shell to understand the lay of the land. And it was this dread that many former slaves felt after the initial joy of freedom came. They had dreamed while they were slaves of being able to educate their children and themselves to never be wept again or experienced violence or sexual exploitation, to be able to provide for their family’s well being. But there was also a sense of vulnerability with this freedom. This meant embracing change, which could be hard for people who had lived on one plantation their entire life, but those who stay close to farms and plantations and communities they called home. The question was how to make a living and enjoy the benefits of freedom. Jenny Webb, who was recently freed said that when the war came to set us free, we were told that we get 40 acres and a mule. We never did. Because former slaves had to fend for themselves. Most were confined to a new form of servitude, which was sharecropping. Some were able to leverage education into the middle-class status and open businesses. But for the majority, they couldn’t do much else but farm because they were landless. One family called the mason said, When freedom came mother and father stayed with Master, they farmed for shares. During the next 15 years, we moved from farm to farm trying to earn a living. So the lack of viable economic alternatives meant that many freedmen and women found that their hold on freedom was loose. And the uncertainty wasn’t only about money and finding a job, but it was about the new racial dynamics of the South since slavery was no longer equal. What would it mean? As we see in this episode, there were glimpses of change during Reconstruction with a black senator with new state constitutions and a possible emergent black male electorate and military and legal protections. But after reconstruction ended in 1877, there was no extensive violence and intimidation on black freedmen and the years after the Civil War, the Freedmen’s Bureau recorded what it called racial outrages, or their assaults and arsons and riots and murders and sexual assaults, all users on the black population. They’re almost never followed up on in the legal system. Most of all, reconstruction was a period of uncertainty. People simply didn’t know what direction the United States would take. Would it truly evolve and try to live up to the promises of the Emancipation Proclamation, or to fall back into something resembling slave conditions that existed before the Civil War? Tony Cox, newly freedmen from Mississippi said about emancipation, we had a hard time getting adjusted and making a way for ourselves. But despite these challenges, the impact importance of freedom was never undervalued. Rachel
TAmerica During Reconstruction - History
The Meaning of Freedom:
Black and White Responses to the End of Slavery
Confederate defeat and the end of slavery brought far-reaching changes in the lives of all Southerners. The destruction of slavery led inevitably to conflict between blacks seeking to breathe substantive meaning into their freedom by asserting their independence from white control, and whites seeking to retain as much as possible of the old order.
The meaning of freedom itself became a point of conflict in the Reconstruction South. Former slaves relished the opportunity to flaunt their liberation from the innumerable regulations of slavery.
Immediately after the Civil War, they sought to give meaning to freedom by reuniting families separated under slavery, establishing their own churches and schools, seeking economic autonomy, and demanding equal civil and political rights .
In cities, increasing urbanization rendered the night-watch system completely useless as communities got too big. The first publicly funded, organized police force with officers on duty full-time was created in Boston in 1838. Boston was a large shipping commercial center, and businesses had been hiring people to protect their property and safeguard the transport of goods from the port of Boston to other places, says Potter. These merchants came up with a way to save money by transferring to the cost of maintaining a police force to citizens by arguing that it was for the “collective good.”
In the South, however, the economics that drove the creation of police forces were centered not on the protection of shipping interests but on the preservation of the slavery system. Some of the primary policing institutions there were the slave patrols tasked with chasing down runaways and preventing slave revolts, Potter says the first formal slave patrol had been created in the Carolina colonies in 1704. During the Civil War, the military became the primary form of law enforcement in the South, but during Reconstruction, many local sheriffs functioned in a way analogous to the earlier slave patrols, enforcing segregation and the disenfranchisement of freed slaves.
In general, throughout the 19th century and beyond, the definition of public order &mdash that which the police officer was charged with maintaining &mdash depended whom was asked.
For example, businessmen in the late 19th century had both connections to politicians and an image of the kinds of people most likely to go on strike and disrupt their workforce. So it’s no coincidence that by the late 1880s, all major U.S. cities had police forces. Fears of labor-union organizers and of large waves of Catholic, Irish, Italian, German, and Eastern European immigrants, who looked and acted differently from the people who had dominated cities before, drove the call for the preservation of law and order, or at least the version of it promoted by dominant interests. For example, people who drank at taverns rather than at home were seen as “dangerous” people by others, but they might have pointed out other factors such as how living in a smaller home makes drinking in a tavern more appealing. (The irony of this logic, Potter points out, is that the businessmen who maintained this belief were often the ones who profited off of the commercial sale of alcohol in public places.)
At the same time, the late 19th century was the era of political machines, so police captains and sergeants for each precinct were often picked by the local political party ward leader, who often owned taverns or ran street gangs that intimidated voters. They then were able to use police to harass opponents of that particular political party, or provide payoffs for officers to turn a blind eye to allow illegal drinking, gambling and prostitution.
This situation was exacerbated during Prohibition, leading President Hoover to appoint the Wickersham Commission in 1929 to investigate the ineffectiveness of law enforcement nationwide. To make police independent from political party ward leaders, the map of police precincts was changed so that they would not correspond with political wards.
The drive to professionalize the police followed, which means that the concept of a career cop as we’d recognize it today is less than a century old.
Further campaigns for police professionalism were promoted as the 20th century progressed, but crime historian Samuel Walker’s The Police in America: An Introduction argues that the move toward professionalism wasn’t all good: that movement, he argues, promoted the creation of police departments that were “inward-looking” and “isolated from the public,” and crime-control tactics that ended up exacerbating tensions between police and the communities they watch over. And so, more than a half-century after Kennedy’s 1963 proclamation, the improvement and modernization of America’s surprisingly young police force continues to this day.
A version of this article also appears in the May 29 issue of TIME.
Before Union victory in the Civil War was assured, President Abraham Lincoln and his advisors were turning their attention to “reconstruction” in the South. It would be a time for reconciling the North and South, bringing the formerly rebellious Southern governments back into their proper relation with the union, and protecting the basic civil rights of freedmen, blacks, and Unionists in those Southern states. Each of these goals would be difficult in its own right. Reconstruction demanded them all, and that they all be done at the same time. It is no wonder, then, that Lincoln had been heard to say that Reconstruction posed the greatest question ever presented to practical statesmanship.
There are theoretical and practical reasons why Reconstruction proved to be too great a challenge for post-Civil War statesmen and politicians.
As a matter of theory, the American constitutional system carves out significant space for state sovereignty. The principles of the Declaration of Independence demand respect for government by consent of the governed and for the principles of human equality and the protection of natural rights.
Reconstruction revealed contradictions among these principles. State and local majorities in the defeated Southern states were uninterested in protecting the civil rights of freedmen and also uninterested in acknowledging human equality. What should be done under this circumstance? Should the national government limit the powers of state and local majorities? If so, would that be consistent with the consent of the governed? Should former rebels be considered part of the state and local majorities? If not, would that be consistent with the consent of the governed? Should the national government protect the rights of freedmen itself? Did the national government even have the capacity – constitutionally and practically – to protect freedmen in the states?
President Lincoln had to begin adopting policies about these issues while the Civil War still raged. Generally, Lincoln offered a generous amnesty to Southerners (Document 2) if they would quit the rebellion. He was unwilling to insist on very many abridgments of state sovereignty in Southern states that had been won back into the Union (Document 1). Most Republicans in Congress opposed Lincoln’s charitable policy toward Southern governments (Document 3), yet Lincoln stood firm during the war with his generous amnesty and limited national oversight. He did gain passage of the 13 th Amendment (Document 4), which limited state sovereignty by abolishing slavery throughout the Union. Even in his “Last Public Address” (Document 5), Lincoln deferred quite a bit to majorities in a reconstructed Louisiana government that did not extend the vote to freed slaves and did not provide education for freed slaves. We cannot know whether Lincoln would have persisted in this policy, since he was assassinated just days after his last public address (Document 5).
President Andrew Johnson, who assumed the presidency after Lincoln‘s assassination, was a Tennessee Unionist. It was soon revealed that he opposed policies to protect and aid the freedmen. He allowed Southern governments to re-organize and regain their status in the Union with relative ease – demanding only that they adopt the 13th amendment, repudiate Confederate debt, and foreswear secession (Documents 6, 9, and 11). The governments that organized under Johnson’s plan did much to discredit his approach. Most famously, Confederate rebels won elective office. These rebels and their sympathizers led governments that adopted “black codes,” local regulations that appeared to be the re-introduction of slavery by another name (Document 8). These laws generally reflected the state of Southern public opinion as reported to Congress by Carl Schurz, a Union general who went on a fact-finding tour of the South, in December 1865 (Document 10). Union feeling and respect for black civil rights, Schurz argued, were barely noticeable in the South Johnson’s easy restoration of Southern states seemed to undermine the twin goals of recreating a healthy Union and winning genuine emancipation for blacks, Schurz argued.
Johnson’s evident satisfaction with his approach (Document 9) put him on a collision course with the Republicans, who demanded that a deeper change in Southern society and governance accompany the Union victory. Republicans looked for ways to require that Southern governments protect the civil rights of freedmen and provide equal protection of the laws. With these goals in mind, “Radical” Republicans in Congress first empowered the national government to protect civil rights, when states failed to do it, in the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Document 13) they made these changes part of the constitutional fabric through the 14th Amendment (Document 14) that same year.
Then Congress did much to throw out Johnson’s restored Southern governments through the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 (Document 17). These Acts provided a more thorough process, directed by the military, for Southern states to regain their place in the Union. Self-government established through this more thoroughly supervised process, prominent Republicans hoped, would produce constitutions and working majorities in Southern states that would protect the civil rights of freedmen and loyal Union men. Loyalists would form the backbone of these governments, they hoped. Prominent Republicans learned that extending the vote to freedmen and prohibiting racial discrimination in voting had to be part of any post-Reconstruction Southern order that would protect civil rights and provide equal protection of the laws (Documents 15 and 16).
The Democratic and Republican party platforms of 1868 reveal much about the Republicans’ pride in their accomplishments and the Democratic hope to undo them (Document 20).
All Southern governments had been restored to the Union under the Reconstruction Acts by the first months of Ulysses S. Grant’s first term in 1869. Reconstruction appeared to be over. Yet all was not well under these reconstructed Southern governments. Reports from throughout the South suggested that loyal Union men, blacks, and freed slaves were subject to violence and threats of violence, if they participated in politics or asserted their civil rights (Document 15, 21, and 24). Few Southern whites would do much to protect blacks or Republicans. The processes under the Reconstruction Acts were insufficient to protect the right to vote from private intimidation and governmental inaction, if whites controlled local government and working majorities arose after elections fraught with intimidation and violence.
In light of this evidence, Republicans in Congress, with Grant’s blessing, passed a series of bills known as Enforcement Acts, or the Ku Klux Klan Acts, in 1870 and 1871 (Documents 23 and 24). This marked an additional phase in Reconstruction. These bills made actions that hindered the right to vote or that intimidated people against exercising their civil rights, among many other things, into federal crimes. With such federal protection, it was hoped, elections in the Southern states could be fair representations of the state population. Such federal action seemed necessary to secure the consent of all the governed. Grant especially appealed to the citizens of the South to turn on the Ku Klux Klan and other private organizations that hindered their fellow citizens from voting. In some cases (Document 24), Grant even brought federal troops into Southern states to provide protection for black citizens. A low-level civil war seemed to be breaking out in various parts of the South, and military protection seemed necessary for freedmen to enjoy their civil rights and voting rights (Document 28).
It was very difficult to maintain sufficient support to keep up such forceful actions. Many in the North, including now Senator Carl Schurz, who had earlier supported vigorous national action (Document 10), begged for a broad amnesty so that former rebels could hold office (Document 26). Schurz’s efforts in this respect were part of a broader effort within the Republican Party called Liberal Republicanism to end national efforts to reconstruct the South. A series of Supreme Court cases during Grant’s second term offered narrow conceptions of national power under the 14th and 15th amendments. The Slaughterhouse Cases (Document 27) and United States v. Cruikshank (Document 29) undermined the national government’s ability to protect freedmen and loyal Union men in the South.
Waning Northern support and the sheer difficulty of the task led even the Republican Party, ultimately, to limit its efforts to protect civil and voting rights in the South. With the election of Rutherford B. Hayes to the presidency in 1876, the Republicans ended military oversight in the South (Document 30). Republicans, who had fought for the Union, done much in law to protect civil rights, and done not a little to improve the lives of freedmen in the South, ended up – unwittingly, perhaps – allowing a return to white home rule in the South during Hayes’s Presidency. Some observers, including the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, even wondered whether the Union soldiers slain in the Civil War had died in vain and whether the country still existed half slave and half free (Document 31).
No task was more difficult than Reconstruction. Perhaps more radical efforts (such as land confiscation and redistribution) to punish rebels could have changed the South (Document 19). Perhaps Lincoln, had he lived, would have worked out a more acceptable accommodation protecting the freedmen while sewing up the Union. Perhaps if Lincoln had not selected Andrew Johnson to be his Vice President, a more responsible and committed reformer would have brought about a better result. No one had more political skill and upright intention than Lincoln, and no one had less of each than Johnson.
Republicans tried several times to “start over” on Reconstruction, but the South was no blank slate and starting over was not a realistic option. Perhaps only time could bring about the changes necessary to reconcile Southern home rule and protection for freedmen, as Lincoln himself seemed to suggest in his first statement on these matters (Document 1).
A Note on Usage:
To promote readability, we have in most instances modernized spelling and in some instances punctuation. Occasionally, we have inserted italicized text, enclosed in brackets, to bridge gaps in syntax occurring due to apparent errors or illegibility in the source documents, or to briefly explain long passages of text left out of our excerpts. With regard to capitalization, however, we have in most cases allowed usage to stand where it is internally consistent, even when varying from today’s usage, since authors writing in the aftermath of the Civil War may signal their attitudes toward the balance between state and federal power through capitalization.
For each of the Documents in this collection, we suggest below in section A questions relevant for that document alone and in Section B questions that require comparison between documents.
1. President Abraham Lincoln to General Nathaniel Banks (August 1863)
A. What policies does President Lincoln want the new constitution of Louisiana to embody? What powers does President Lincoln think he has? On what kinds of issues does he merely suggest what should be done? Why does President Lincoln think himself empowered only to suggest, not to order, that Louisiana adopt certain constitutional provisions?
B. Compare the tone and orders of President Lincoln in this letter to General Nathaniel Banks with the tone and orders found in Documents 3 and 17 where variations of Radical Republican policies are pursued and Document 18 where President Andrew Johnson vetoes Radical bills.
2. President Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (December 8, 1863)
A. How can people receive amnesty under President Lincoln’s Proclamation? Who could in good conscience take the oath that President Lincoln suggests? Who must ask for special pardon under the Proclamation? Does this seem to be a large group of people? Describe the process whereby states will come back into the union under the Proclamation.
B. Compare the people allowed to vote for the states’ new constitutional convention under President Lincoln’s Proclamation with those able to participate under the Wade-Davis Bill (Document 3). Compare the process of restoration under President Lincoln’s Proclamation with the process of restoration under the Wade-Davis Bill (Document 3) and the Reconstruction Acts (Document 17). What accounts for the differences? What different visions of Reconstruction are in each of the proposals? What would be the result of each process?
3. Wade-Davis Bill and President Lincoln’s Pocket Veto Proclamation (July 1864)
A. What is the process for reconstruction under the Wade-Davis Bill? Describe it step-by-step from the creation of the provisional government to the seating of the states’ congressional delegations. What standards must state constitutional conventions adhere to in order to win approval? What threats does the Wade-Davis Bill imagine will continue to plague the Southern states? How does it propose to deal with the threat? How will states be governed until they are fully reconstructed and allowed back into the Union? Why does President Lincoln veto the Bill? What is his chief complaint against it?
B. Compare the people allowed to vote for the states’ new constitutional convention under President Lincoln’s Proclamation (Document 2) with those able to participate under the Wade-Davis Bill. Compare the process of restoration under the Wade-Davis Bill with the process under President Lincoln’s Proclamation (Document 2) and the process under the Reconstruction Acts (Document 17). What accounts for the differences? How do the differences reflect different ideas about the American Union and the goals of the Civil War? How might history have been different had President Lincoln signed the Wade-Davis Bill?
4. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution (January 31, 1865 [passed] and December 18, 1865 [ratified])
A. How does the 13th Amendment change relations between the state and national governments? Imagine how the 13th Amendment would be enforced if a state tried to institute slavery within its borders.
B. Compare the restructuring of national and state relations under the 13th Amendment with the restructuring under the 14th Amendment (Document 14) and the 15th Amendment (Document 22).
5. President Abraham Lincoln’s Last Public Address (April 11, 1865)
A. What defects does President Lincoln identify in the Louisiana constitution? What does he suggest be done about those defects? What is the broader theory of reconstruction within his statement?
B. How does President Lincoln’s policy as stated in his “Last Public Address” differ from the Radical policies as found in the Reconstruction Acts (Document 17)? How does it compare with the theory implicit in the speeches of Representative Thaddeus Stevens (Documents 16 and 19)? What are the pitfalls of each policy?
6. President Andrew Johnson, “Proclamation on Reorganizing Constitutional Government in Mississippi” (June 13, 1865)
A. What standards would President Johnson hold new Southern states to? What process does he lay out for the restoration of Southern government to the union?
B. Compare the process of restoration under President Johnson’s Proclamation with the Wade-Davis Bill (Document 3), with the process under President Lincoln’s Proclamation (Document 2) and with the process under the Reconstruction Acts (Document 17). What accounts for the differences? How do the differences reflect different ideas about the American Union and the goals of the Civil War? Rank the processes from the easiest to satisfy to the most difficult to satisfy.
7. Richard Henry Dana, “Grasp of War” (June 21, 1865)
A. What kind of power does Dana think the Union has over the defeated South? What should it use its power to accomplish? What is secession in Dana’s view? What are the limits, if any, of the Union’s power in Dana’s view? How would Reconstruction end in his view?
B. How does Dana’s view of the war compare with President Andrew Johnson’s view (Document 9 and 18) and President Lincoln’s view (Document 5)?
8. Black Codes of Mississippi (October – December, 1865)
A. Describe the various ways that freedom for freed slaves is compromised under the black codes of Mississippi. How is life under the black codes different from slavery?
B. Would the 13th Amendment (Document 4) help to limit the powers of the state to pass black codes? Under what reading of the 13th Amendment would it be of help to freed slaves? What vision of federal power would be necessary to prevent states from passing and enforcing Black Codes (consider Documents 13, 14, and 23)? What might explain why black codes arose in these states (consider Document 26)?
9. President Andrew Johnson, First Annual Address (December 4, 1865)
A. Why did President Johnson think that it was wrong and imprudent to impose military governments on the South? Why does President Johnson think that all acts of secession are “null and void”? What is the significance of that idea? In what ways has the national authority come to be operating in the South? What is the national government doing? By what authority? What is President Johnson’s reconstruction policy? What are the risks associated with President Johnson’s policy? What policy to promote the welfare of freedmen does President Johnson offer? What standards would he hold the new Southern governments to? What, in President Johnson’s view, was wrong with slavery?
B. How does President Johnson’s understanding of secession differ from Richard Henry Dana’s vision of secession (as articulated in Document 7)? What is the significance of this difference? How does the report of Carl Schurz (Document 10) account for the risks associated with President Johnson’s policy? How might those risks be mitigated?
10. Carl Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South (December 19, 1865)
A. According to Schurz, what are the attitudes of Southerners toward Union men, the Union, and freedmen? What kind of evidence would convince you that Schurz had accurately described Southern opinion on these matters?
B. If you were a member of the U.S. Congress and had just heard President Johnson’s First Annual Address (Document 9), how would you compare and contrast Johnson’s view of the South to Schurz’s? If you believed Schurz, what actions would you consider taking? How does Schurz’s description of the South compare to the descriptions in Documents 8, 21, 25, and 28?
11. Frederick Douglass, Reply of the Colored Delegation to the President (February 7, 1866)
A. Why did President Johnson think that a party uniting poor white Southerners and freedmen would be impossible? What does Frederick Douglass think the foundation for a permanent peace among whites and blacks in the South must be? How did Douglass respond to President Johnson’s views? Why does Douglass oppose colonization? What ultimately is Douglass’s vision for a multi-racial American South? What are the obstacles to that vision?
B. Does this document show President Johnson’s actual Reconstruction policy to correspond to or differ from the policy he presented in this first annual address to Congress (Document 9)? Does the argument Douglass makes about the foundations for a permanent peace support a position of general amnesty for the Southerners as put forward later by Carl Schurz (Document 26)? How does Douglass’s position compare with the position of President Lincoln in his letter to General Nathaniel Banks (Document 1)?
12. Alexander H. Stephens, Address before the General Assembly of the State of Georgia (February 22, 1866)
A. What moral virtues are necessary for all Americans to adopt, in Stephens’s view? Why? Why does Stephens think that President Johnson’s policy of restoration offers the best hope for peace within the Union? What policies does Stephens recommend Georgia adopt for freedmen? What ultimately is Stephens’s vision for a multi-racial American South? What are the obstacles to that vision?
B. How do Stephens’s recommendations compare with the recommendations of President Lincoln (Documents 1 and 2) and President Johnson (Document 9)? What in Stephens’s view was the status of secession – were the states out of the Union or not? What implications do Stephens’s views have for his recommended national and state policies?
13. An Act to Protect All Persons in the United States in Their Civil Rights, and Furnish the Means of their Vindication (April 9, 1866)
A. What rights does the Civil Rights Act seek to protect? What actions does the Civil Rights Act make illegal? What actions of state governments in particular does it make illegal? What is the process whereby the national government will seek to protect these rights? If someone’s rights are violated, what happens? What institutions will be involved in protecting these rights? What kinds of conspiracies is the Civil Rights Act aimed to ferret out and prosecute? How will the act accomplish this?
B. In what ways does the Civil Rights Act embody or contradict President Johnson’s vision of the Union (as found in Document 9)? In what ways does it embody or contradict the vision of Union announced in Dana’s speech (Document 7), the ideas of Senator Charles Sumner (Document 15) or the speech of Representative Thaddeus Stevens (Document 16)? What difficulties can you imagine confronted those enforcing the Civil Rights Act, given the situation as described by Carl Schurz in his Report on the Condition of the South (Document 10) or the testimony later gathered about the activities of the Ku Klux Klan (Documents 25 and 28)? Did the Civil Rights Act have a solid constitutional justification before the 14th Amendment (Document 14)? How are the Enforcement Acts (Document 23) related to the Civil Rights Bill?
14. Congressional Debate on the 14th Amendment, (February – May, 1866)
A. What standards does the 14th Amendment hold states to? What incentives does Section 2 of the 14th Amendment put in place for encouraging states to grant the vote to the freedmen and others? Who does the 14th Amendment seek to prohibit from holding national office? Why? In what ways can Congress enforce the 14th Amendment? What were the prominent arguments in favor of the 14th Amendment? Why was debate about the 14th Amendment postponed at the end of February 1866? What changes to the amendment were made before its passage? What is the significance of those changes? How is the vision of federalism different in the first draft of the amendment compared to the second draft?
B. How might states violate the 14th Amendment? Consider in this light the evidence from Documents 10, 25 and 28. How might the courts be involved in enforcing the 14th Amendment, especially given the role assigned to the courts by the Civil Rights Bill (Document 13)? If you are a citizen of a state and the state does not investigate a crime against you because you are black, while it does investigate the same crime when it is committed against whites, would you be able to take the state to federal court even without other enabling legislation (such as the Civil Rights Act (Document 13) or the Enforcement Acts (Document 23)?
15. Charles Sumner, “The One Man Power vs. Congress!” (January 3, 1867)
A. What is Senator Sumner’s critique of President Johnson? What extensions of federal policy does Senator Sumner envision? What would he like to do, and what would he like to undo? What are his reasons for departing from what has been done? What role of the national government does he envision during Reconstruction? Why does he think Congress should take the lead in Reconstruction?
B. How does Senator Sumner go beyond the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment (Documents 13 and 14)? How does Senator Sumner’s treatment of the political situation in 1867 compare with Representative Thaddeus Stevens’s treatment (Documents 16 and 19)?
16. Thaddeus Stevens, Speech on Reconstruction (January 3, 1867)
A. What extensions of federal policy does Representative Stevens envision? What would he like to do? What would he like to undo? What are his reasons for departing from what had been done? What role of the national government does he envision in Reconstruction?
B. How does Stevens’s vision of the national government compare to Schurz’s in his “Plea for Amnesty” (Document 26)? What does Stevens think the 14th Amendment empowers the national government to do (Document 14)? Does he think that the 14th Amendment is enough? Why? Why not? Would, in your view, Stevens have made the same speech after The Slaughterhouse Cases (Document 27) and United States v. Cruikshank (Document 29)?
17. Reconstruction Acts (March 2, 1867, March 23, 1867, and July 19, 1867)
A. What role would the military play under these acts? How would laws be made and how would violations of the law be judged? What does the Reconstruction Act have to say about the legality of the governments created under President Johnson’s restoration policy? Describe the process by which states would make new constitutions under the Reconstruction Acts. What standards would states be held to in making these constitutions? How would Congress and the President be involved in acknowledging the reconstructed states? How can the states so affected get the military to leave their states? Under what circumstances might Section 5 of the March 23, 1867 act be used to deny the legality of a state’s convention and vote?
B. How does the oath of the March 23, 1867 act compare to the oath that President Lincoln penned in his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (Document 2)? Generally speaking, how does the process of readmitting states in the Reconstruction Acts compare with the process President Lincoln imagines (Document 2), with the Wade-Davis Bill (Document 3), and with President Johnson’s approach (Documents 6 and 9)?
18. President Andrew Johnson, Veto of the First Reconstruction Act (March 2, 1867)
A. What arguments does President Johnson make against military rule in the South? How well are the Southerners re-integrated into the Union at this point, according to President Johnson? What according to President Johnson is the purpose of the Reconstruction Act? Why does he think that purpose is outside the power of the Constitution? Why, in his view, might it be outside the Declaration and its principles as well?
B. How do you think that the Republicans who passed the Reconstruction Acts (Document 17) would respond to the arguments made by President Johnson in his veto message? How might President Lincoln respond to them in light of his last public address (Document 5)?
19. Thaddeus Stevens, “Damages to Loyal Men” (March 19, 1867)
A. Who are the loyal men, according to Representative Stevens? What damages have been done to them? How can those loyal men be rewarded for their loyalty? What must the national government do to so reward them? How might the redistribution of land assist in the restructuring of the South? How far would Representative Stevens be willing to go in redistributing land? What obstacles might there have been to Stevens’ approach as outlined in this speech? What national support would have been necessary to make the Stevens’ plan work?
B. Placing Representative Stevens’ speech in context, how does his approach differ from the approach of The Reconstruction Acts (Document 17) and the approach of President Johnson (Document 18)? How does his approach to land redistribution compare with the civil rights approach initiated in 1866 (Document 13 and 14) and the voting approach initiated in 1870 (Document 22 and 23)? Do you think that his approach would have worked better than the other two approaches? What benefits and costs might this approach have had over the others?
20. Democratic and Republican Party Platforms of 1868 (May 20, 1868 and July 4, 1868)
A. What goals do the Republicans embrace for Reconstruction? How do their goals compare to the Democrats’ goals? What things are present in the Republicans’ goals that are absent in the Democrats’ goals? What things are absent in the Republicans’ goals but present in the Democrats’ goals? How do the two parties judge President Johnson’s tenure in office? What picture do the respective parties paint of the South as eventually reconstructed? What is the role of blacks in that new order each party envisions?
B. To what extent is the Republican Party platform a continuation of the Reconstruction Acts (Document 17)? To what extent is it an extension of Lincoln’s policy of Amnesty and Reconstruction (Document 2)? To what extent is the Democratic Party’s platform a continuation of President Johnson’s approach (Documents 6, 9, and 18)? How would each platform deal with problems that might arise from violent private organizations, operating without interference from the state, such as the Ku Klux Klan?
21. Executive Documents on the State of the Freedmen (November 20, 1868)
A. What does the Secretary of War report as happening in the sections of Texas under investigation? Are the goals of Reconstruction policy being achieved? Why or why not?
B. Have the Civil Rights and Reconstruction Acts (Documents 13 and 17) been successful up to this point? If not, what would be necessary to make them successful? How does Carl Schurz’s description of the South compare to the descriptions in Documents 8, 10, 25 and 28? What has changed in the South since Schurz made his report (Document 10)? How does the reality described here compare with the reality that gave rise to the Enforcement Acts (Document 23)?
22. The 15th Amendment (February 26, 1869 [passed] and February 2, 1870 [ratified])
A. How does the 15th Amendment change relations between the national and state governments? How might Congress use its law-making powers to enforce the provisions of the 15th Amendment? How is the approach in the 15th Amendment different from granting the national government the power to insist upon uniform voting requirements in the states? How might states circumvent the 15th Amendment in an attempt to prevent bs from voting?
B. How does the 15th Amendment compare to the 14th Amendment (Document 14) on the issue of protecting rights? In what ways does the 15th Amendment enforce itself? In what ways does it require Congressional action for its enforcement (Document 23)? What hopes did Republicans hang on granting the vote to blacks nationwide (Documents 15 and 16)? Why did President Johnson want to keep the question of the vote at the state level (Document 9)? Who had the stronger argument – the Republicans, or President Johnson? Why? What long-term implications would the 15th Amendment have for the nature of the national government?
23. The Enforcement Acts (March 30, 1870 and April 20, 1871)
A. What actions are made illegal under the Acts? What powers are given to the national government to enforce the acts? What kinds of actions would prompt the national government into action under these acts?
B. What kinds of threats do states and state actions and inaction pose to the execution of the 15th Amendment (Document 22)? How does this Enforcement Act compare to the Civil Rights Act (Document 13)? Which rights does each focus on, and what processes does each set up to protect these rights? Which act is more extensive in its attempt to protect freedmen? Which abridges state power the most? How might the different emphases and mechanisms for enforcement be explained by events that happened between the passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 and the Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871 (Document 23)?
24. President Ulysses S. Grant, Proclamation on Enforcement of the 14th Amendment (May 3, 1871)
A. What is the substance of President Grant’s Proclamation concerning the Enforcement Acts? Why do you think that President Grant issued this Proclamation?
B. In what ways does President Grant’s Proclamation amplify the First and Second Enforcement Acts (Document 23)?
25. Charlotte Fowler’s Testimony to Sub-Committee on Reconstruction in Spartanburg, South Carolina (July 6, 1871)
A. What do we learn about Southern society after the war from Charlotte Fowler’s testimony? Who would be threatened by the Ku Klux Klan? What purposes did their violence serve? Why was Wallace Fowler killed?
B. How does the portrait of Southern society presented in the testimony compare with that in Carl Schurz’s Report on the Condition of the South (Document 10) and in the Executive Documents on the State of the Freedmen (Document 21)? What kinds of laws would be necessary to protect people such as Wallace and Charlotte Fowler? Had such laws been passed by Congress? What does this tell us about Reconstruction?
26. Senator Carl Schurz, “Plea for Amnesty” (January 30, 1872)
A. What are Senator Schurz’s arguments for amnesty? How far should that amnesty extend? What benefits does he expect to flow from granting amnesty? What in his view are the reasons white Southerners perpetrate violence against Southern blacks?
B. How do Schurz’s views in his “Plea for Amnesty” compare and contrast with his views in his Report on the Condition of the South (Document 10)? What has changed? What other speeches and views present arguments similar to Schurz’s? Do you think his “Plea” or Representative Thaddeus Stevens’s “Damages” (Document 19) presents a surer basis for peace? Should the Southerners be treated like vanquished foes or fellow citizens? Is there any tenable ground between these two positions?
27. Associate Justices Samuel Miller and Stephen Field, The Slaughterhouse Cases, The United States Supreme Court (April 14, 1873)
A. What, according to the Court, were the purposes of the Civil War Amendments (Documents 4, 14, and 22)? What are the “privileges and immunities” of United States citizenship? What rights come with U.S. citizenship? What argument does the Court make for this understanding of U.S. citizenship? Would you characterize it as a broad or a narrow understanding of U.S. citizenship? How does Justice Field’s dissenting opinion differ from the Court’s opinion? What rights does Justice Field think come with U.S. citizenship? What is his reading of these amendments?
B. Would the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the Slaughterhouse Cases support the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 (Document 13)? Do the deliberations on the 14th Amendment (Document 14) support the Court’s reading of the 14th Amendment or that of Justice Field?
28. Colfax Massacre Reports, U.S. Senate and the Committee of 70, 1874 and 1875
A. What happened at Colfax? How does the account offered by Congress differ from the account offered by the Committee of Seventy? What explains the difference? What do the two accounts of the Colfax Massacre tell us about white Southerners’ views of the freedmen?
B. What does this massacre tell us about the need for the Enforcement Acts (Document 23) and the Civil Rights Bill (Document 13)? How does it complement or contradict the Executive Documents on the State of the Freedmen from December 1868 (Document 21)? What could the national government do to prevent such massacres? What obstacles existed to effective national action on such matters?
29. Chief Justice Morrison Waite, United States v. Cruikshank, The United State Supreme Court (March 27, 1876)
A. What powers reside with the states and what powers with the national government according to United States v. Cruikshank? How would that division of power between the levels of government foster the investigation of crimes such as the Colfax Massacre? What does United States v. Cruikshank do to the Enforcement Acts (Document 23)?
B. Does the vision of national and state power in United States v. Cruikshank resemble or contradict the arguments made for the 14th Amendment (Document 14)? Would the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Document 13) survive the analysis of United States v. Cruikshank and the Slaughterhouse Cases (Document 27)? What reconstruction powers are left in the national government after United States v. Cruikshank?
30. President Rutherford B. Hayes, Inaugural Address (March 5, 1877)
A. What federal obligations does President Hayes emphasize? What promises does he extend for the protection of freedmen? What measures will he pursue to reconcile Southerners to the new Union? What problems might arise from his approach?
B. How do the Slaughterhouse Cases (Document 27) and United States v. Cruikshank (Document 29) shape President Hayes’s policy? Which President does Hayes most seem to resemble (compare Documents 5, 9, 18, and 24)? Why do you think he adopts the policy he adopts?
31. Frederick Douglass, “The United States Cannot Remain Half-Slave and Half-Free” (April 16, 1883)
A. What are the grounds for pessimism about race relations, according to Douglass? Why are the grounds for optimism more compelling in his view?
B. How does Douglass’s account of what has been accomplished in Reconstruction compare with Hayes’s treatment his Inaugural Address (Document 30)? What specific events from the Reconstruction Era support Douglass’s optimism? Which support his pessimism?
With the end of the war, the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution provided freedom for all African Americans in the United States. This freedom came, however, during a time of great national disruption, during which African Americans faced hard times and an uncertain future. Most had been left penniless by the war, and some had to avoid attacks by returning Confederates. Many tens of thousands began traveling throughout the South in search of long-lost family members, searches that often took years. Most important, the structure of the nation had been reordered dramatically, and it would take decades for the aftershocks of this transformation to fully work themselves out. African Americans were on the fault lines of that process.
The chaos of the postwar years was met, however, by a tremendous wave of African American organization. Education, long denied to African Americans in the South, became an especially impassioned cause. African American teachers helped found new schools operated by the federal Freedmen's Bureau, and brought free public education to African Americans in the South for the first time. By 1870, there were more than 240,000 pupils in more than 4,000 schools. Howard University, Fisk University, and Hampton Institute were also founded during this period.
The change with perhaps the greatest transformative potential, however, was African Americans' new participation in electoral politics. In 1870 the 15th Amendment was ratified, which guaranteed all males the right to vote, regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Within a few years, every Southern state legislature had African American members, and 11 African Americans had been elected to the U.S. Congress by 1875. In this regard, at least, the nation's political identity appeared to have changed for good.
Nearly 2,000 Black Americans Were Lynched During Reconstruction
Just over a year after the end of slavery in the United States, New Orleans hosted a convention of white men seeking to ensure Louisiana’s new constitution would guarantee voting rights for black residents.
Virulently racist opposition by the local press, which denounced both the convention’s attendees and its intent, preceded the July 1866 gathering. And when black men from the surrounding area staged a march in support of the convention, a mob of white men and police enacted a horrific scene of racial terror.
“For several hours, the police and mob, in mutual and bloody emulation, continued the butchery in the hall and on the street, until nearly two hundred people were killed and wounded,” wrote a Congressional committee tasked with investigating the massacre. “How many were killed will never be known. But we cannot doubt there were many more than set down in the official list in evidence.”
This incident is one of nearly 2,000 white supremacist massacres and killings recorded in a new report from the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an Alabama-based nonprofit dedicated to combating racial inequality. The survey details nearly 2,000 racial terror lynchings of black men, women and children during the Reconstruction era of 1865 to 1876.
In 2015, EJI researchers released a report documenting more than 4,400 lynchings that took place between 1877 and 1950. The new study, titled Reconstruction in America: Racial Violence After the Civil War, brings the overall death toll between 1865 and 1950 to nearly 6,500.
“We cannot understand our present moment without recognizing the lasting damage caused by allowing white supremacy and racial hierarchy to prevail during Reconstruction,” says Bryan Stevenson, EJI’s founder and director, in a statement.
As Safiya Charles writes for the Montgomery Advertiser, Reconstruction-era lynchings, as well as thousands of largely unprosecuted acts of assault and terrorism during the period, “were used to intimidate, coerce and control Black communities with the impunity of local, state and federal officials—a legacy that has once again boiled over, as nationwide protests sparked by multiple police killings and extrajudicial violence against Black Americans call for an end to centuries of hostility and persecution.”
The names of more than 4,000 lynching victims are written in stone at EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Since opening in Montgomery in 2018, the memorial and its accompanying museum have welcomed around 750,000 visitors, reports Campbell Robertson for the New York Times.
Stevenson tells the Times that building the museum and memorial made EJI’s team realize that the 12-year period following the Civil War saw a disproportionate number of killings of black Americans and therefore warranted special attention.
“If there was any period of time where white animus toward blacks was omnipresent, particularly in the South, it was certainly during the time of Reconstruction,” Derryn Moten, a historian at Alabama State University, tells the Montgomery Advertiser. “That was the dawning of African Americans’ new freedom. … [But it] was also the time period when the Klan and other terror groups came into fruition.”
The names of lynching victims are inscribed on corten-steel monuments at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. (Photo by Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The white supremacist terrorism perpetrated against black Americans during Reconstruction effectively nullified constitutional amendments designed to provide black people with equal legal protections and ensure their right to vote, according to the report. As Stevenson explains to the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington, American institutions ranging from local sheriffs to the Supreme Court—which passed decisions that blocked efforts to enact further legal protections for black U.S. citizens—failed to protect the rights outlined in these landmark amendments.
“It’s only because we gave in to this lawlessness and abandoned the rule of law and decided that these constitutional amendments would not be enforced that it was possible to have nearly a century of racial terror,” Stevenson tells the Times.
The thousands of racial terror lynchings documented in the report likely represent just a fraction of the carnage’s true scope: “[T]housands more were attacked, sexually assaulted, and terrorized by white mobs and individuals who were shielded from arrest and prosecution,” the study’s authors write.
Speaking with the Montgomery Advertiser, Stevenson adds, “Our continued silence about the history of racial injustice has fueled many of the current problems surrounding police violence, mass incarceration, racial inequality, and the disparate impact of COVID-19.”
In 2016, Jordan Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas, told the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin that the legacy of lynching continues to influence the criminal justice system today—particularly in the case of capital punishment.
“In one sense, the death penalty is clearly a substitute for lynching. One of the main justifications for the use of the death penalty, especially in the South, was that it served to avoid lynching,” Steiker said. “The number of people executed rises tremendously at the end of the lynching era. And there’s still incredible overlap between places that had lynching and places that continue to use the death penalty.”
EJI’s new report, as well as its memorial and museum, seeks to expose Americans to their nation’s history of white supremacy and the acts of racial terrorism it inspired.
“It’s important that we quantify and document violence,” Stevenson tells the Times. “But what’s more important is that we acknowledge that we have not been honest about who we are, and about how we came to this moment.”
The Role of the Black Church
In many African American communities, large and small, the social, political, and economic life of the people centered around the church. The pastor was often the community leader, teacher, and business strategist. Families often spent many hours at the church each week or when the preacher came to their community, sometimes only once or twice a month.
This pamphlet discusses the history of this African American denomination, educational efforts among people of color in Ohio, and other issues vital to the African American community during Reconstruction. It provides important historical data about the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.), especially in Cincinnati, discusses the church's diverse ministries, and outlines the denomination's numerous uplifting and charitable endeavors in the Cincinnati community. There is also historical information about Wilberforce University in Ohio, an institution of higher education purchased by the A.M.E. Church in 1863.
A group of Ohioans, including four African American men, established Wilberforce University near Xenia, Ohio, in 1856, and named it after the famous British abolitionist, William Wilberforce. When the school failed to meet its financial obligations, leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church purchased it in 1863.
The articles of association of Wilberforce University, dated July 10, 1863, state that its purpose was "to promote education, religion and morality amongst the colored race." Even though the university was established by and for people of color, the articles stipulated that no one should "be excluded from the benefits of said institution as officers, faculty, or pupils on account of merely race or color."
Thus, Reconstruction allowed African Americans to more fully express agency while still oppressed. It gave blacks the chance to counter such oppression more freely. Networks, communities, and relationships were all redefined and recreated. Again, just as Foner maintained, Kolchin remarks, “And in the years after World War II, again with the help of white allies, they spearheaded a “second Reconstruction” – grounded on the legal foundation provided by the first — to create an interracial society that would finally overcome the persistent legacy of slavery.”
Subsequent counterrevolutions have consumed many revolutions throughout history. The French Revolution ended with France in much the same state as when it began the revolution with the monarchy's reinstatement. However, France was forever changed. Retrenchment occurred, yet reform had started. Similarly, Reconstruction failed to achieve its original aim, yet, it altered the South and North forever. However, one cannot separate Reconstruction from the Civil War. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation connected the two events and united them in their revolutionary purpose.
Both Thomas and Foner are correct when they view both events as revolutionary. The legislation passed during Reconstruction stands as the tangible result that allowed for the Civil Rights movement's legalistic protests. Thus, the Civil War allowed for the passage of such legislation, with Reconstruction providing the historical moment to ratify such measures. While Harold Woodman correctly asserts that the quality of change should be the measuring stick by which Reconstruction is judged, his denial of its gradual influence misses the point. When the FDR sent Works Progress Administration agents into the “black belt” during the Great Depression, former slaves (in interviews) repeatedly recalled both the disappointments of Reconstruction but also its accomplishments. Reconstruction and the Civil War provided the light at the end of the tunnel for African Americans. While the tunnel has been long, difficult, and arduous, and the light has still to be reached, its intensity has grown so that America and its people are no longer in total darkness.