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Chapter 17 - Reconstruction

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The Politics of Reconstruction
- Civil War killed 600,000 + soldiers, wounded 470,000 +
- War destroyed slavery, but not racism
- New “United States” was now a singular, not plural, entity
- Federal govt took precedence over individual states
- Key issue of Reconstruction: how fed govt would relate with Confed and freed states
 
The Defeated South
- By 1865, the South’s most precious commodities, cotton & slaves, no longer valuable
- Took a generation for South’s economy to recover from the civil war
- 1860 - South = 25% of US’s wealth; 1870 - South = 12%
- White southerners hated the idea of emancipation - led to tons of racism in the South
 
Abraham Lincoln’s Plan
- Lincoln based his plan for Reconstruction on bringing seceded states back quickly
- Promised that when a Confed state’s voters reached 10% of those who had voted in 1860, they would be allowed to form a legitimate govt.
- 10% plan
- New govt had to negotiate the abolishment of slavery
- Not a plan for Reconstruction - a bid to gain white support for emancipation
- Wade-Davis bill - required 50% of white males in a state to take a loyalty oath before state’s constitution could be re-written
    - guaranteed equality before the law for former slaves
    - threatened Lincoln’s attempts to win Southern support - he vetoed it
- No one was quite sure how to redistribute Southern land among former slaves
- Gen. Benjamin F. Butler transformed slaves into paid labourers
- Gen. William T. Sherman set aside some land exclusively for freed peoples
- 40 acres of land + loaned army mules
- March 1885 - Freedmen’s Bureau made to look after matters pertaining to freed slaves
- Jan 1885 - 13th Amendment - promised no slavery would exist within the United States
- Lincoln’s assassination left the issue of reconstruction to a racist, Andrew Johnson
 
Andrew Johnson and Presidential Reconstruction
- Appointed by Lincoln because he was the only Southern senator to remain loyal
- nominated for VP in ‘64 to appear to Northern and border “War Democrats”
- Johnson believed Reconstruction was the responsibility of the executive, not legis.
- Granted ~ 100 pardons per day in Sept. 1865 - gratified him and reinforced class bias
- Used the term “Restoration” rather than “Reconstruction”
- Wanted to build coalition of N. Democrats, conservative Republicans, & S. Unionists
- Opposed political rights for freedmen
 
The Radical Republican Vision
- Radicals firmly believed in equality in rights/opportunities for everyone
- Felt reconstruction needed a strong federal govt
- Disliked discriminating laws like the “black codes” in SC, MS, and Louis.
- Black codes reflected the Southerners’ unwillingness to adapt
- Radicals gained support from other Republicans suspicious of the whites in the South
- 1865 - 39th Congress discovered old Confederates were back in power and that blacks needed new protections - Two Bills Passed as a result:
- Civil Rights Bill - granted blacks full citizenship
    - overturned Dred Scott decision
    - made everyone born in the US an American citizen
    - did not include Indians
    - gave equal legal rights
- Congress also promised to give the Freedmen’s Bureau more authority
- Johnson vetoed both bills because he was a racist bastard
- Denounced the use of national power to protect black civil rights
- Johnson denounced Radicals as “anti-Unionists”
- Moderate and Radical Republicans united to override the vetoes
- June 1866 - 14th Amendment - included former slaves as national citizens
- Republicans used this as their platform in the 1866 Congressional elections
- Huge Republican majorities led for an inevitable conflict - President vs. Congress
 
Congressional Reconstruction and the Impeachment Crisis
- Mar 1867 - 1st Reconstruct. Act - divided South into 5 military areas with martial law
- Several laws passed to limit Johnson’s power
- Tenure of Office Act - President could not remove officeholder w/o Senate approval
- Johnson tried to replace Edwin M. Stanton with Ulysses S. Grant
- Congress overruled this and Grant openly broke with Johnson
- Using the violation of the Tenure of Office Act, Congress voted to impeach Johnson
- 126-47; 11 counts of high crimes and misdemeanors
- Johnson was eventually aquitted by a vote of 35-19, one shy of the 2/3 majority needed
 
The Election of 1868
- Summer 1868 - Seven former Confed States had been readmitted
- Republicans nominated Ulysses S. Grant; Democrats nominated Horatio Seymour
- War Hero vs. Racist sectionalist
- KKK terrorized Southern voters
- 500,000 + blacks voted Republican
- Feb 1869 - 15th Amendment - Universal Male Suffrage granted
- Ratifed Feb 1870 - On the surface, Reconstruction was complete
 
Woman Suffrage and Reconstruction
- American Equal Rights Association (1866) - lobbied for no racial/sexual restrictions
- Radical groups led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cody Stanton pushed for a 16th Amendment guaranteeing woman’s suffrage
- Woman suffragists eventually split into two factions
- AWSA = more moderate; NWSA - more radical
- Defeated due to the failure of Radical Reconstruc. and the ideal of expanded citizenship
 
The Meaning of Freedom
- Slavery ended sooner in some areas than others
- Former slaves wanted to establish distinct African American culture
 
Moving About
- In attempts to test their freedom, many blacks began moving
- Many moved to predominately black communities
- Black went out of their way to reject the old subservience - wouldn’t tip hat, etc
 
The African American Family
- Freed People often reunited with long-lost family members
- Thousands of common-law black couples went to be legally married
- Black men played a more direct role than women due to their enhanced rights 
- Black families, not slave masters, decided where and when women and children worked
 
African American Churches and Schools
- Separate African American churches built to enhance the sense of community
- Many schools were built in black communities
- Reflected the strong passion for self improvement
- Rural communities organised makeshift classrooms
- Freedmen’s Bureau and the American Missionary Association helped in founding black colleges to train black teachers - Tougaloo, Hampton & Fisk
 
Land Labour after Slavery
- Black codes restricted what jobs blacks could pursue
- Made it so that many blacks had to remain on the plantation
- Majority of blacks hoped to become self-sufficient farmers
- Above all, blacks sought economic autonomy, gained through land ownership
- President Johnson ordered the eviction of thousands of freed people on confiscated land
- Alienated many blacks, who felt betrayed
- 3 distinct “systems of hire” - money wages, share wages, and share cropping
- money & share wage: planters worked in gangs, and were paid either in cash or with a share of the crop
- Both systems were reminiscent of the slavery system
- This led to share cropping, which became the main form of working the land
- Sharecropping - individual families became responsible for a specific plot
- Large plantations became divided into family-sized farms
- Sharecropper families got 1/3 of the crop if plantation gave them tools, or 1/2 if they provided their own
- Better than gang labour, but still not great
- By 1880, nearly 3/4 of black Southerners were sharecroppers
 
The Origins of African American Politics
- Although in many ways autonomyous, blacks still desired inclusion
- Many parades, petitions, etc in cities to demand equality
- 1st Reconstruction Act led to more African American political activity
- Union League - formerly a while patriotic club, was new political voice of former slaves
 
Southern Politics and Society
- For the readmission of the South to work, it needed to adopt the two-party system
- 1877 - Democrats controlled all former Confed states
 
Southern Republicans
- Made up of 3 major groups - Blacks
- White Northerners (carpet baggers) 
- usually well-educated and middle class
- Scalawags - whites with diverse motives & backgrounds
- Various divisions emerged between these groups
 
Reconstructing the States: A Mixed Record
- Former Confed leaders could not participate in politics; Republicans dominated
- Conventions produced more democratic constitutions and established new resources
- state funded education systems
- orphanages, jails, looney bins, etc
- Segregation became the norm in public school systems
- Blacks resisted segregation in other public spaces, but equality regulations were hard to enforce
- Republican leaders envisioned a more capitalist society in the South
- Also encouraged railroad production
- Btwn 1868 - 1872, 3000 + miles were added to the Southern rail system
- Advocated a “gospel of prosperity”
- Eventually unsuccessful
 
White Resistance and “Redemption”
- Democrats refused to acknowledge the Republican govts
- 1870-1872 - KKK fought against Reconstruction govts & local leaders
- Colfax, Louisiana - Nearly 100 Blacks killed on Easter Sunday 1873 by the Klan
- showed that the govts had no real power
- 1870/71 - 3 Enforcement Acts passed to reduce racial terrorism
- KKK Act of April 1871 - made infringement of civil rights a federal crime
- Civil Rights Act of 1875 - banned racial discrimination in theatres, hotels, railroads, etc
- Democrats eventually “redeemed” Southern states
- led to: obstacles to voting
- stringent controls on plantation labour
- deep cuts to social services
- US vs Reese / US vs Cruikshank - restricted Congressional power to enforce KKK Act
- 1883 Civil Rights Cases - declared Civil Rights Acts unconstitutional
- Ended attempts to protect Black rights until well into the next century
 
“King Cotton” and the Crop Lien System
- Republicans’ vision of revamped South never materialized
- South became one of the country’s poorest regions
- Depended solely on cotton
- Crop Lien system became the South’s main form of agricultural credit
- Local merchants/planters advanced loans in exchange for a lien (claim) on the year’s cotton crop
- Shady dealings resulted in huge debts for illiterate farmers
- Reinforced white-ruled class system
 
Reconstructing the North
- Lincoln used his own rags-to-riches story as proof of the superiority of “free labour”
 
The Age of Capital
- 1873 - US produced 75% more than it had in 1865
- 1869 - 1st transcontinental railway line completed at Promontory Point, Utah
- Railroads paved the way for rapid Western settlement
- Railroad companies became the nation’s first big businesses
- Some became very corrupt
- Industry as a whole flourished during this time
 
Liberal Republicans and the Election of 1872
- Lineral Republicans - emphasized the doctrines of classical economics
- stressed supply and demand, free trade, defense of property rights
- suspicious of expanding democracy
- 1872 - Democrats nominated Greely to run for President
- Easily defeated by Grant
 
The Depression of 1873
- Commercial overexpansion led to a deep economic depression in 1873
- Various banks and brokerage houses collapsed and the NYSE suspended operations
- 100 + banks and 18,000 + businessed closed
- Depression lasted 63 months
- Caused farmers to sink deeper and deeper into debt
 
The Electoral Crisis of 1876
- With the country in Depression, Democrats looked to capture the White House
- Scandals plagued the Grant administration - “Whiskey Ring” cheated govt, etc
- Democrats nominated Samuel J. Tilden - impeccable record, very honest, etc
- Tilden had exposed various scandals as governor of NY
- Rutherford B. Hayes, Republican candidate, also claimed to be a good man
- Tilden recieved 250,000 more votes than Hayes, and 184 uncontested electoral votes
- SC, Oregon, Fla, and Louis - each returned two sets of electoral votes
- These 20 votes would determine the outcome
- Committee voted 8-7 to award the votes to Hayes - resulted in his presidency
- In exchange for the presidency, Hayes promised to give the South more money and not to interfere in their affairs - “home rule”
- When Hayes withdrew from the South, it essentially nullified the 14th and 15th Amendments, and abandoned the free people there
 
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