Reconstruction, African-Americans and Southern reaction to defeat 1865-78

Reconstruction, African-Americans and Southern reaction to defeat 1865-78

Reconstruction (1865-1877)

  • Reconstruction Era: This was the period after the Civil War where the Southern states were restored into the Union. It aimed to rebuild the South and promote racial equality.
  • Presidential Reconstruction: Led by President Andrew Johnson, Presidential Reconstruction focused on quickly reinstating the Southern states without addressing the issue of freed slaves’ civil rights sufficiently.
  • Radical Reconstruction: In contrast, Radical Republicans in Congress sought stronger protection for African-American rights and harsher on the Southern states for their role in the Civil War.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1866: This was the first law aimed at protecting the rights of African-Americans. It affirmed their rights to property and to equal treatment under law, but it did not effectively protect them from Black Codes.
  • Fourteenth Amendment (1868): It provided equal protection under the law to all citizens, and included African-Americans. This was aimed at negating the Black Codes.

African-Americans during Reconstruction

  • Black Codes: These were laws passed by Southern states with the goal of restricting African-Americans’ freedom and compelling them to work in a labour economy based on low wages or debt.
  • Freedmen’s Bureau: Established in 1865, it was to aid former slaves through food and housing, oversight, education, health care, and employment contracts in the aftermath of the Civil War.
  • Sharecropping: This system replaced slavery as a way for African-Americans to work on the land. However, they were often trapped in a cycle of debt with the landowners.
  • Fifteenth Amendment (1870): It sought to protect African-Americans’ right to vote. However, Southern states used tactics such as poll taxes and literacy tests to restrict this right.

Southern Reaction to Defeat and Reconstruction

  • Ku Klux Klan: Founded in 1865, the KKK used violence and intimidation against African-Americans and white Republicans to maintain white supremacy.
  • Jim Crow Laws: The South passed these segregation laws to control and disenfranchise African-Americans after the end of Reconstruction.
  • Compromise of 1877: This ended Reconstruction. It removed federal troops from the South, effectively ending the protection African-Americans had.
  • ‘Redeemer’ Governments: They took over the Southern states’ governments after the end of Reconstruction. Run by pro-Democracy white supremacists, they steer the South towards segregation and white supremacy.