Reconstruction Dbq - Part 3
US History Reconstruction DBQ Following the culmination of the Civil War, issues regarding the restoration of seceded states to the Union, the emancipation of slaves, and the overall re-development of political institutions in the nation prevailed - Reconstruction Dbq introduction. The idea of Reconstruction was proposed to political officials in late 1865, when the effects of the tumultuous Civil War were at its most devastating. The various enactments of the period were deemed void and not actively enforced. Democratic and Republican political parties refused to meet resolutions, imperative to the reconstruction of the nation’s governmental structure.
The economy was in an absolute distress, and emancipated blacks faced considerable amounts of opposition. Social, economic, and political policies instituted during the Reconstruction Era are deemed failures due to the burden of racial segregation, economic distress, party discrepancies, and the lack of effective enforcement. In 1865, Amendment Thirteen of the United States was ratified. The article states that all slaves residing in the nation or any of its corresponding territories are deemed emancipated. (Document A) Though the article does publicly mandate emancipation, it fails in successfully granting freedom to previous slaves.
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Southern states imposed “black codes” upon the newly freedmen. These diminishing codes restricted various activities and behaviors of the black community. Many included the prevention of interracial marriage, black testaments against whites in court of law, and jobs outside of agriculture. Clearly, the Thirteenth Amendment was not strictly imposed upon the once rebellious southern states. Three years later, congress decided to enact another article that would annul the previously mandated Dred Scott Decision of 1957, which states that blacks could not be legal citizens.
This newly established document was titled the Fourteenth Amendment. The amendment itself stated that all persons born or naturalized in the country’s boundaries would be proclaimed citizens immediately following birth. The article also states that any state that denies suffrage to any male citizen, would suffer a proportional loss of congressional votes. (Document B) Again, this was formatted to enforce equality, but to no avail. Opposition groups including the White League and the Klu Klux Klan were instituted to promote intimidation and deny black’s natural rights. Document F) Their intention was to prevent black communities from voting and holding exceptional seats in a predominately white society. They practiced lynching and the destruction of black property, and were never fully stopped by a military force due to the lack thereof. The only form of opposition to these hate groups, was the Freedmen’s Bureau. This was a federal agency designed to protect the rights of freed blacks by instituting relief funds, educational resources, medicine, jobs, and housing.
President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Freedmen Bureau’s Bill, which caused a considerable lack of effectiveness in the program. The Bureau reached its demise in 1872, when groups titled the “redeemers”, who sought to oust the republican coalition of freedmen, seized the government. The social institutions of this era, designed to demonstrate natural rights and freedoms to emancipated blacks, were ultimately failures. Due to the confederate defeat in the Civil War, the economy of the south, once prevailing with cotton and agricultural industries, was at an absolute loss.
The emancipation of slave resulted in a scarcity of readily available labor, and war debts plummeted southern investments. Blacks desired independent opportunities, excluding ones with an agricultural atmosphere. (Document G) The proposed solution was seemingly a great investment, however it led to insecure economic conditions. Sharecropping became the most prevalent form of labor in the South. The idea of sharecropping allows a landowner to rent small farms of approximately fifty acres to black families, in exchange for a share of their designated crop. Document H) The idea of this seemed dreamlike to blacks, who had experience in agricultural processes, yet sought independence. By the early 1880’s, roughly eighty percent of the farmland had developed into sharecropping regions. Tenants were forced into debt by futile harvests and a lack of wealth. They became drawn into the crop-lien economy, which can be adequately described as a credit system for southern farmers. This application did not succeed, due to the fact that the south was already in deep debt even before the notion of sharecropping was introduced.
In the north, the Panic of 1873 was prompted by an over-investment in the transcontinental railroad system by the nation’s most prominent bank. The forced expulsion of the bank and the deflation occurred from the Coinage Act of 1871 resulted in a grueling five year depression. The continuous failure of the Southern economy and the ultimate regression of the northern economy were results from ineffective proposals under reconstruction. Not only were social and economic policies heavily strained under reconstruction, politics reached catastrophes. The idea of black suffrage was greatly opposed by many democrats.
Even the passing of The Fifteenth Amendment, which proclaims protection for voting on all citizens, regardless of race, did not cease their parade to prevent black suffrage. (Document C) They continuously tried to eliminate the possibility of black’s casting an official ballot in the South. States had their own methods to avert black persons from voting, including forced literary tests and poll taxes for voting privileges. They commanded that registered voters must successfully pass a literacy test and have paid off a considerable tax to the state government for the cost of the election.
Many freed blacks were illiterate and did not have the funds available to pay off state-driven taxes. In the election of 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes, a republican, and Samuel J. Tilden, democrat, were the two most prevalent candidates. The election was fundamentally flawed when democrats illegally prevented freedmen from voting, whilst republicans illegally discarded democratic ballots. Though the results of the election showed Tilden advanced by a mere number of votes, the Electoral College deemed Hayes the overall winner in the Compromise of 1877. Document J) The political tides of the nation were construed during reconstruction. Party discrepancies halted any new political developments, and the lack of enforcement on policies allowed for the opposition to rise above law. The Reconstruction Era was undoubtedly a colossal waste of time and effort. The most chief flaw of the era was its lack of enforcement on policies and mandates. If a military force had defended the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments, the margin of hostility would have decreased significantly.
Many blacks regarded the failed emancipation as a hopeless remedy to resolve the vanity of white men. Susie Taylor King, a freed black woman from Boston, proclaimed that the Reconstruction Act of 1867 and the Freedmen’s Bill Act were both not actively enforced and did not help the southern cause. Economic distress was a result of poor political judgment and not dealing with war debts in a secure manner. The reconstruction period was absolute wreckage to the newly united Union, where social, economic, and political resolutions were deemed disastrous.