Reconstruction after the American Civil War Essay

he “winner” of Reconstruction was the North mainly due to the fact that the South took most of the damage from the Civil War - Reconstruction after the American Civil War Essay introduction. The Civil War brought destruction to the South, its economy suffered from all the costs, the land suffered from all the battles, the people suffered due to Sherman, and African Americans were fighting a tough battle with the North on their side and the South against them. The South had much more Reconstruction to do than the North, so in the “race” to see who would “win” Reconstruction the North would likely be claimed the victors. The South States, during Johnson’s presidency, were soon electing their new representatives for Congress. In December 1865 the newly elected Southern legislators arrived in Washington to take their seats (378). 58 of them had previously sat in the Congress of the Confederacy, 6 had served in the Confederate cabinet, and four had fought against the United States as Confederates generals (378). Johnson pardoned them all but Congress refused to admit the newly elected legislators (379).

Even though Congress wanted to help the South and through Reconstruction they saw that Johnson was favoring the South and that the newly elected legislators would only cause more problems for the country, causing the South’s political situation to not be in any good shape. Because the Civil war was fought mostly on Southern land many of the Southern state governments faced the challenge of rebuilding a battle-scarred region (384). The economic costs of the war were devastating for the South. Property value plummeted, hose who had invested in Confederate bonds couldn’t get their money back, and many small farms were destroyed (384). For the people in the South the wealth per capita among whites dropped from $18,000 in 1860 to about $3,000 in 1870 (384). Union General William T. Sherman estimated that his troops alone destroyed about $100 million worth of Southern property in Georgia and South Carolina (384). The Civil War caused so much destruction and suffering in the South that it caused long problems for the South.

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Almost all the citizens of the South except for the carpetbaggers (385), northerners that went to the South with nothing but a few belonging that could fit into carpet bag and were believed to have arrived hoping to exploit the South’s postwar turmoil for profit, were all much poorer and there were heavy taxes being set into place in the South to help pay for all the damage from the war causing the people to have even less money. The Radical and Moderate Republicans worked hard to make things easier for the African Americans and to make things as equal as possible for them. The South had to deal with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a social club founded for Confederate veterans started in Tennessee in 1866, as membership raised many of the new chapters turned into violent terrorists groups and by 1868 the KKK was in nearly every Southern State, the main goal of the KKK was to restore white supremacy (394).

Between 1868 and 1871 the KKK and other secret groups killed thousands of men, women, and children, and they burned schools, churches, and property (394). The North was trying to make all persons equal and the people of the South were rebelling against equality for the African Americans, and immigrants, by committing mass murder and beating many innocent people to near death. Something that people might use to say that the South “won” Reconstruction is the Panic of 1873. The economy had been expanding since the end of the Civil War and investors were convinced that business profits would continue to increase (397). Because investors were eager to take advantage of new business opportunities in the South, Northern and Southern investors borrowed large amounts of money and built new facilities as soon as possible (397).

Many of the investors of these new businesses took on more debt than they could afford (397). A Philadelphia banker named Jay Cooke invested heavily in railroads, but not enough investors bought shares in Cooke’s railroad lines to cover his construction costs, and he could not pay his debts (397). In September 1873 Cooke’s banking firm, the nation’s largest dealer in government securities, went bankrupt, setting off a series of financial failures (397). Even though this economic panic occurred and set back the Reconstruction of the North and partially the South, this is still a small thing compared to what the South had to go through during Reconstruction.

The South lost the “race” of Reconstruction with their unwillingness to accept African Americans as equals and by trying to fight the power of the Federal government. The North “won” the “race” of Reconstruction because they fought for equality of all people, all the physical damage was mostly in the South and the North’s economy boomed during the war, leaving its citizens with much more money in their pockets than the citizens of the South.

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