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Stephens , John A. Campbell , and Robert M. The southerners proposed the Union recognition of the Confederacy, a joint Union-Confederate attack on Mexico to oust dictator Maximillian , and an alternative subordinate status of servitude for blacks rather than slavery. Lincoln flatly rejected recognition of the Confederacy, and said that the slaves covered by his Emancipation Proclamation would not be re-enslaved.
He said that the Union States were about to pass the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. Lincoln urged the governor of Georgia to remove Confederate troops and "ratify this Constitutional Amendment prospectively , so as to take effect—say in five years Although the meeting was cordial, the parties did not settle on agreements.
Lincoln continued to advocate his Louisiana Plan as a model for all states up until his assassination on April 14, The plan successfully started the Reconstruction process of ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment in all states.
Lincoln is typically portrayed as taking the moderate position and fighting the Radical positions. There is considerable debate on how well Lincoln, had he lived, would have handled Congress during the Reconstruction process that took place after the Civil War ended.
One historical camp argues that Lincoln's flexibility, pragmatism, and superior political skills with Congress would have solved Reconstruction with far less difficulty. The other camp believes the Radicals would have attempted to impeach Lincoln, just as they did to his successor, Andrew Johnson, in Northern anger over the assassination of Lincoln and the immense human cost of the war led to demands for punitive policies. Vice President Andrew Johnson had taken a hard line and spoke of hanging rebel Confederates, but when he succeeded Lincoln as President, Johnson took a much softer position, pardoning many Confederate leaders and former Confederates.
There were no treason trials. Only one person—Captain Henry Wirz , the commandant of the prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia —was executed for war crimes. Andrew Johnson's conservative view of Reconstruction did not include blacks or former slaves involvement in government and he refused to heed Northern concerns when southern state legislatures implemented Black Codes that set the status of the freedmen much lower than that of citizens.
Smith argues that, "Johnson attempted to carry forward what he considered to be Lincoln's plans for Reconstruction. It is likely that had he lived, Lincoln would have followed a policy similar to Johnson's, that he would have clashed with congressional Radicals, that he would have produced a better result for the freedmen than occurred, and that his political skills would have helped him avoid Johnson's mistakes.
Historians agree that President Johnson was an inept politician who lost all his advantages by his clumsy moves. He broke with Congress in early and then became defiant and tried to block enforcement of Reconstruction laws passed by the U. He was in constant conflict constitutionally with the Radicals in Congress over the status of freedmen and whites in the defeated South. In the words of Benjamin F. Perry , President Johnson's choice as the provisional governor of South Carolina: However, the fears of the mostly conservative planter elite and other leading white citizens were partly assuaged by the actions of President Johnson, who ensured that a wholesale land redistribution from the planters to the freedman did not occur.
President Johnson ordered that confiscated or abandoned lands administered by the Freedmen's Bureau would not be redistributed to the freedmen but be returned to pardoned owners. Land was returned that would have been forfeited under the Confiscation Acts passed by Congress in and Southern state governments quickly enacted the restrictive " black codes ".
However, they were abolished in and seldom had effect, because the Freedmen's Bureau not the local courts handled the legal affairs of freedmen. The Black Codes indicated the plans of the southern whites for the former slaves. They could not own firearms, serve on a jury in a lawsuit involving whites or move about without employment. They were overthrown by the Civil Rights Act of that gave the freedmen full legal equality except for the right to vote.
The freedmen, with the strong backing of the Freedmen's Bureau, rejected gang-labor work patterns that had been used in slavery. Instead of gang labor, freedpeople preferred family-based labor groups.
Such bargaining soon led to the establishment of the system of sharecropping, which gave the freedmen greater economic independence and social autonomy than gang labor. However, because they lacked capital and the planters continued to own the means of production tools, draft animals and land , the freedmen were forced into producing cash crops mainly cotton for the land-owners and merchants, and they entered into a crop-lien system.
Widespread poverty, disruption to an agricultural economy too dependent on cotton, and the falling price of cotton, led within decades to the routine indebtedness of the majority of the freedmen, and poverty by many planters.
Northern officials gave varying reports on conditions for the freedmen in the South. One harsh assessment came from Carl Schurz , who reported on the situation in the states along the Gulf Coast. His report documented dozens of extra-judicial killings and claimed that hundreds or thousands more African Americans were killed. The number of murders and assaults perpetrated upon Negroes is very great; we can form only an approximative estimate of what is going on in those parts of the South which are not closely garrisoned, and from which no regular reports are received, by what occurs under the very eyes of our military authorities.
As to my personal experience, I will only mention that during my two days sojourn at Atlanta, one Negro was stabbed with fatal effect on the street, and three were poisoned, one of whom died.
While I was at Montgomery, one negro was cut across the throat evidently with intent to kill, and another was shot, but both escaped with their lives. Several papers attached to this report give an account of the number of capital cases that occurred at certain places during a certain period of time. It is a sad fact that the perpetration of those acts is not confined to that class of people which might be called the rabble. The report included sworn testimony from soldiers and officials of the Freedmen's Bureau.
In Selma, Alabama , Major J. Houston noted that whites who killed twelve African Americans in his district never came to trial.
Many more killings never became official cases. Captain Poillon described white patrols in southwestern Alabama. The bewildered and terrified freedmen know not what to do—to leave is death; to remain is to suffer the increased burden imposed upon them by the cruel taskmaster, whose only interest is their labor, wrung from them by every device an inhuman ingenuity can devise; hence the lash and murder is resorted to intimidate those whom fear of an awful death alone cause to remain, while patrols, Negro dogs and spies, disguised as Yankees, keep constant guard over these unfortunate people.
Much of the violence that was perpetrated against African Americans was shaped by gendered prejudices regarding African Americans. Black women were in a particularly vulnerable situation. To convict a white man of sexually assaulting black women in this period was exceedingly difficult. Trials were discouraged and attorneys for black misdemeanor defendants were difficult to find. The goal of county courts was a fast, uncomplicated trial with a resulting conviction. Most blacks were unable to pay their fines or bail, and "the most common penalty was nine months to a year in a slave mine or lumber camp.
Black women were socially constructed as sexually avaricious and since they were portrayed as having little virtue, society held that they could not be raped. Sexual assaults on African-American women were so pervasive, particularly on the part of their white employers, that black men sought to reduce the contact between white males and black females by having the women in their family avoid doing work that was closely overseen by whites. During fall , out of response to the Black codes and worrisome signs of Southern recalcitrance, the Radical Republicans blocked the readmission of the former rebellious states to the Congress.
Johnson, however, was content with allowing former Confederate states into the Union as long as their state governments adopted the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
By December 6, , the amendment was ratified and Johnson considered Reconstruction over. Johnson was following the moderate Lincoln Presidential Reconstruction policy to get the states readmitted as soon as possible. Congress, however, controlled by the Radicals, had other plans.
Congress, on December 4, , rejected Johnson's moderate Presidential Reconstruction, and organized the Joint Committee on Reconstruction , a member panel to devise reconstruction requirements for the Southern states to be restored to the Union. Although Johnson had sympathies for the plights of the freedmen, he was against federal assistance.
An attempt to override the veto failed on February 20, This veto shocked the Congressional Radicals. In response, both the Senate and House passed a joint resolution not to allow any Senator or Representative seat admittance until Congress decided when Reconstruction was finished. Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois , leader of the moderate Republicans, took affront at the black codes.
He proposed the first Civil Rights Law , because the abolition of slavery was empty if. A law that does not allow a colored person to go from one county to another, and one that does not allow him to hold property, to teach, to preach, are certainly laws in violation of the rights of a freeman The purpose of this bill is to destroy all these discriminations.
All persons born in the United States The bill did not give Freedmen the right to vote. Congress quickly passed the Civil Rights bill; the Senate on February 2 voted 33—12; the House on March 13 voted — Although strongly urged by moderates in Congress to sign the Civil Rights bill, Johnson broke decisively with them by vetoing it on March 27, His veto message objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when eleven out of thirty-six states were unrepresented and attempted to fix by Federal law "a perfect equality of the white and black races in every State of the Union.
It was a "stride toward centralization and the concentration of all legislative power in the national government. The Democratic Party, proclaiming itself the party of white men, north and south, supported Johnson.
Congress also passed a toned-down Freedmen's Bureau Bill; Johnson quickly vetoed as he had done to the previous bill. Once again, however, Congress had enough support and overrode Johnson's veto. The last moderate proposal was the Fourteenth Amendment , whose principal drafter was Representative John Bingham. It was designed to put the key provisions of the Civil Rights Act into the Constitution, but it went much further. It extended citizenship to everyone born in the United States except visitors and Indians on reservations , penalized states that did not give the vote to freedmen, and most importantly, created new federal civil rights that could be protected by federal courts.
It guaranteed the Federal war debt would be paid and promised the Confederate debt would never be paid. Johnson used his influence to block the amendment in the states since three-fourths of the states were required for ratification the amendment was later ratified. The moderate effort to compromise with Johnson had failed, and a political fight broke out between the Republicans both Radical and moderate on one side, and on the other side, Johnson and his allies in the Democratic Party in the North, and the conservative groupings which used different names in each southern state.
Concerned that President Johnson viewed Congress as an "illegal body" and wanted to overthrow the government, Republicans in Congress took control of Reconstruction policies after the election of Radical Republicans in Congress, led by Stevens and Sumner, opened the way to suffrage for male freedmen. They were generally in control, although they had to compromise with the moderate Republicans the Democrats in Congress had almost no power.
Historians refer to this period as "Radical Reconstruction" or "Congressional Reconstruction. Analysis of 34 major business newspapers showed that 12 discussed politics, and only one, Iron Age, supported radicalism. The other 11 opposed a "harsh" Reconstruction policy, favored the speedy return of the Southern States to congressional representation, opposed legislation designed to protect the Freedmen, and deplored the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.
The South's white leaders, who held power in the immediate postwar era before the vote was granted to the freedmen, renounced secession and slavery, but not white supremacy. People who had previously held power were angered in when new elections were held.
New Republican lawmakers were elected by a coalition of white Unionists, freedmen and northerners who had settled in the South. Some leaders in the South tried to accommodate to new conditions. Three Constitutional amendments, known as the Reconstruction Amendments, were adopted. The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was ratified in The 14th Amendment was proposed in and ratified in , guaranteeing United States citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States and granting them federal civil rights.
The 15th Amendment, proposed in late February and passed in early February , decreed that the right to vote could not be denied because of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". The amendment did not declare the vote an unconditional right; it prohibited these types of discrimination. States would still determine voter registration and electoral laws.
The amendments were directed at ending slavery and providing full citizenship to freedmen. Northern Congressmen believed that providing black men with the right to vote would be the most rapid means of political education and training. Many blacks took an active part in voting and political life, and rapidly continued to build churches and community organizations. Following Reconstruction, white Democrats and insurgent groups used force to regain power in the state legislatures, and pass laws that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites in the South.
From to , Southern states passed new constitutions that completed the disfranchisement of blacks. Supreme Court rulings on these provisions upheld many of these new Southern constitutions and laws, and most blacks were prevented from voting in the South until the s. Full federal enforcement of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments did not reoccur until after passage of legislation in the mids as a result of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Reconstruction Acts as originally passed, were initially called "An act to provide for the more efficient Government of the Rebel States" the legislation was enacted by the 39th Congress, on March 2, It was vetoed by President Johnson, and the veto overridden by two-thirds majority, in both the House and the Senate, the same day. Congress also clarified the scope of the federal writ of habeas corpus to allow federal courts to vacate unlawful state court convictions or sentences in 28 U.
The first Reconstruction Act, authored by Oregon Sen. Williams , a Radical Republican , placed 10 of the former Confederate states—all but Tennessee—under military control, grouping them into five military districts: The four border states that had not joined the Confederacy were not subject to military Reconstruction. West Virginia, which had seceded from Virginia in , and Tennessee, which had already been re-admitted in , were not included in the military districts.
The ten Southern state governments were re-constituted under the direct control of the United States Army. One major purpose was to recognize and protect the right of African Americans to vote. Randolph Campbell describes what happened in Texas: The first critical step The Reconstruction Acts called for registering all adult males, white and black, except those who had ever sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and then engaged in rebellion Sheridan interpreted these restrictions stringently, barring from registration not only all pre officials of state and local governments who had supported the Confederacy but also all city officeholders and even minor functionaries such as sextons of cemeteries.
In every county where practicable a freedman served as one of the three registrars Final registration amounted to approximately 59, whites and 49, blacks. It is impossible to say how many whites were rejected or refused to register estimates vary from 7, to 12, , but blacks, who constituted only about 30 percent of the state's population, were significantly overrepresented at 45 percent of all voters.
The eleven Southern states held constitutional conventions giving black men the right to vote. Until , most former Confederate or prewar Southern office holders were disqualified from voting or holding office; all but top Confederate leaders were pardoned by the Amnesty Act of It appealed to the Scalawag element. For example, in Tennessee had disfranchised 80, ex-Confederates. In Virginia, an effort was made to disqualify for public office every man who had served in the Confederate Army even as a private, and any civilian farmer who sold food to the Confederate army.
Strong measures that were called for in order to forestall a return to the defunct Confederacy increasingly seemed out of place, and the role of the United States Army and controlling politics in the state was troublesome.
Increasingly, historian Mark Summers states, "the disfranchisers had to fall back on the contention that denial of the vote was meant as punishment, and a lifelong punishment at that Month by month, the unrepublican character of the regime looked more glaring. During the Civil War, many in the North believed that fighting for the Union was a noble cause — for the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery.
After the war ended, with the North victorious, the fear among Radicals was that President Johnson too quickly assumed that slavery and Confederate nationalism were dead and that the southern states could return. The Radicals sought out a candidate for President who represented their viewpoint.
In , the Republicans unanimously chose Ulysses S. Grant as their Presidential candidate. As early as , during the Civil War, Grant had appointed the Ohio military chaplain John Eaton to protect and gradually incorporate refugee slaves in west Tennessee and northern Mississippi into the Union War effort and pay them for their labor.
It was the beginning of his vision for the Freedmen's Bureau. Immediately upon Inauguration in , Grant bolstered Reconstruction by prodding Congress to readmit Virginia , Mississippi , and Texas into the Union, while ensuring their constitutions protected every citizen's voting rights. In Grant's two terms he strengthened Washington's legal capabilities to directly intervene to protect citizenship rights even if the states ignored the problem.
Congress passed three powerful Enforcement Acts in — These were criminal codes which protected the Freedmen's right to vote, to hold office, to serve on juries, and receive equal protection of laws. Most important, they authorized the federal government to intervene when states did not act. Grant's new Justice Department prosecuted thousands of Klansmen under the tough new laws. Grant sent federal troops to nine South Carolina counties to suppress Klan violence in Grant supported passage of the Fifteenth Amendment stating that no state could deny a man the right to vote on the basis of race.
Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of giving people access to public facilities regardless of race. To counter vote fraud in the Democratic stronghold of New York City , Grant sent in tens of thousands of armed, uniformed federal marshals and other election officials to regulate the and subsequent elections.
Democrats across the North then mobilized to defend their base and attacked Grant's entire set of policies. Grant's support from Congress and the nation declined due to scandals within his administration and the political resurgence of the Democrats in the North and South.
By , most Republicans felt the war goals had been achieved, and they turned their attention to other issues such as economic policies. On April 20, , the U. Congress launched a member investigation committee on the status of the Southern Reconstruction states: Congressional members on the committee included Rep.
Benjamin Butler , Sen. Zachariah Chandler , and Sen. Subcommittee members traveled into the South to interview the people living in their respective states.
Orr , and Nathan B. Forrest , a former Confederate general and alleged prominent Ku Klux Klan leader Forrest denied in his Congressional testimony being a member. Other southerners interviewed included farmers, doctors, merchants, teachers, and clergymen. The committee heard numerous reports of white violence against blacks, while many whites denied Klan membership or knowledge of violent activities.
The majority report by Republicans concluded that the government would not tolerate any Southern "conspiracy" to resist violently the Congressional Reconstruction. The committee completed its volume report in February While Grant had been able to suppress the KKK through the Enforcement Acts, other paramilitary insurgents organized, including the White League in , active in Louisiana; and the Red Shirts , with chapters active in Mississippi and the Carolinas.
They used intimidation and outright attacks to run Republicans out of office and repress voting by blacks, leading to white Democrats regaining power by the elections of the mid-to-late s. Republicans took control of all Southern state governorships and state legislatures, except for Virginia. At the beginning of , no African American in the South held political office, but within three or four years "about 15 percent of the officeholders in the South were black—a larger proportion than in About black officeholders had lived outside the South before the Civil War.
Some who had escaped from slavery to the North and had become educated returned to help the South advance in the postwar era. Others were free blacks before the war, who had achieved education and positions of leadership elsewhere.
Other African-American men elected to office were already leaders in their communities, including a number of preachers. As happened in white communities, not all leadership depended upon wealth and literacy. There were few African Americans elected or appointed to national office.
African Americans voted for both white and black candidates. The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteed only that voting could not be restricted on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude.
From on, campaigns and elections were surrounded by violence as white insurgents and paramilitary tried to suppress the black vote, and fraud was rampant. Many Congressional elections in the South were contested. Even states with majority African-American population often elected only one or two African-American representatives to Congress. Freedmen were very active in forming their own churches, mostly Baptist or Methodist, and giving their ministers both moral and political leadership roles.
In a process of self-segregation, practically all blacks left white churches so that few racially integrated congregations remained apart from some Catholic churches in Louisiana. They started many new black Baptist churches and soon, new black state associations. Four main groups competed with each other across the South to form new Methodist churches composed of freedmen.
The Methodist Church had split before the war due to disagreements about slavery. Blacks in the South made up a core element of the Republican Party. Their ministers had powerful political roles that were distinctive since they did not depend on white support, in contrast to teachers, politicians, businessmen, and tenant farmers. Pearce , an AME minister in Florida: In a highly controversial action during the war, the Northern Methodists used the Army to seize control of Methodist churches in large cities, over the vehement protests of the Southern Methodists.
Historian Ralph Morrow reports:. A War Department order of November, , applicable to the Southwestern states of the Confederacy, authorized the Northern Methodists to occupy "all houses of worship belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church South in which a loyal minister, appointed by a loyal bishop of said church, does not officiate. Across the North most evangelical denominations, especially the Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, as well as the Quakers, strongly supported Radical policies.
The focus on social problems paved the way for the Social Gospel movement. Matthew Simpson , a Methodist bishop, played a leading role in mobilizing the Northern Methodists for the cause. His biographer calls him the "High Priest of the Radical Republicans.
Resolved, That no terms should be made with traitors, no compromise with rebels That we hold the National authority bound by the most solemn obligation to God and man to bring all the civil and military leaders of the rebellion to trial by due course of law, and when they are clearly convicted, to execute them. The denominations all sent missionaries, teachers and activists to the South to help the freedmen. Only the Methodists made many converts, however. Many Americans interpreted great events in religious terms.
White Baptists expressed the view that:. God had chastised them and given them a special mission — to maintain orthodoxy, strict biblicism, personal piety, and traditional race relations. Slavery, they insisted, had not been sinful. Rather, emancipation was a historical tragedy and the end of Reconstruction was a clear sign of God's favor. God's gift of freedom. They appreciated opportunities to exercise their independence, to worship in their own way, to affirm their worth and dignity, and to proclaim the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
Most of all, they could form their own churches, associations, and conventions. These institutions offered self-help and racial uplift, and provided places where the gospel of liberation could be proclaimed.
As a result, black preachers continued to insist that God would protect and help him; God would be their rock in a stormy land. Anderson argues that the freed slaves were the first Southerners "to campaign for universal, state-supported public education. Some slaves had learned to read from white playmates or colleagues before formal education was allowed by law; African Americans started "native schools" before the end of the war; Sabbath schools were another widespread means that freedmen developed to teach literacy.
The Republicans created a system of public schools, which were segregated by race everywhere except New Orleans. Generally, elementary and a few secondary schools were built in most cities, and occasionally in the countryside, but the South had few cities. The rural areas faced many difficulties opening and maintaining public schools.
In the country, the public school was often a one-room affair that attracted about half the younger children. The teachers were poorly paid, and their pay was often in arrears. They had no vision of a better future for their residents. One historian found that the schools were less effective than they might have been because "poverty, the inability of the states to collect taxes, and inefficiency and corruption in many places prevented successful operation of the schools.
After the war, northern missionaries founded numerous private academies and colleges for freedmen across the South.
In addition, every state founded state colleges for freedmen, such as Alcorn State University in Mississippi. The normal schools and state colleges produced generations of teachers who were integral to the education of African-American children under the segregated system.
By the end of the century, the majority of African Americans were literate. In the late 19th century, the federal government established land grant legislation to provide funding for higher education across the United States. Learning that blacks were excluded from land grant colleges in the South, in the federal government insisted that southern states establish black state institutions as land grant colleges to provide for black higher education, in order to continue to receive funds for their already established white schools.
Some states classified their black state colleges as land grant institutions. Former Congressman John Roy Lynch wrote, "there are very many liberal, fair-minded and influential Democrats in the State [Mississippi] who are strongly in favor of having the State provide for the liberal education of both races.
Every Southern state subsidized railroads, which modernizers believed could haul the South out of isolation and poverty. Millions of dollars in bonds and subsidies were fraudulently pocketed. Instead of building new track, however, it used the funds to speculate in bonds, reward friends with extravagant fees, and enjoy lavish trips to Europe.
There were complaints among taxpayers because taxes had historically been low, as the planter elite was not committed to public infrastructure or public education. Taxes historically had been much lower in the South than in the North, reflecting the lack of government investment by the communities. The lines were owned and directed overwhelmingly by Northerners.
Railroads helped create a mechanically skilled group of craftsmen and broke the isolation of much of the region. Passengers were few, however, and apart from hauling the cotton crop when it was harvested, there was little freight traffic.
Reconstruction changed the means of taxation in the South. In the South, wealthy landowners were allowed to self-assess the value of their own land.
These fraudulent assessments were almost valueless, and pre-war property tax collections were lacking due to property value misrepresentation. State revenues came from fees and from sales taxes on slave auctions. Some revenue also came from poll taxes. These taxes were more than poor people could pay, with the designed and inevitable consequence that they did not vote.
During Reconstruction, the state legislature mobilized to provide for public need more than had previous governments: The needed to increase taxes which were abnormally low.
The planters had provided privately for their own needs. There was some fraudulent spending in the postwar years; a collapse in state credit because of huge deficits, forced the states to increase property tax rates.
In places, the rate went up to ten times higher—despite the poverty of the region. The planters had not invested in infrastructure and much had been destroyed during the war. In part, the new tax system was designed to force owners of large plantations with huge tracts of uncultivated land either to sell or to have it confiscated for failure to pay taxes. The following table shows property tax rates for South Carolina and Mississippi. Note that many local town and county assessments effectively doubled the tax rates reported in the table.
These taxes were still levied upon the landowners' own sworn testimony as to the value of their land, which remained the dubious and exploitable system used by wealthy landholders in the South well into the 20th century. Called upon to pay taxes on their property, essentially for the first time, angry plantation owners revolted. The conservatives shifted their focus away from race to taxes. Lynch , a black Republican leader from Mississippi, later wrote,. The argument made by the taxpayers, however, was plausible and it may be conceded that, upon the whole, they were about right; for no doubt it would have been much easier upon the taxpayers to have increased at that time the interest-bearing debt of the State than to have increased the tax rate.
The latter course, however, had been adopted and could not then be changed unless of course they wanted to change them. While the "Scalawag" element of Republican whites supported measures for black civil rights, the conservative whites typically opposed these measures.
Some supported armed attacks to suppress black power. They self-consciously defended their own actions within the framework of an Anglo-American discourse of resistance against tyrannical government, and they broadly succeeded in convincing many fellow white citizens says Steedman. The opponents of Reconstruction formed state political parties, affiliated with the national Democratic party and often named the "Conservative party.
Rable called such groups the "military arm of the Democratic Party. Historian Walter Lynwood Fleming , associated with the early 20th-century Dunning School , describes the mounting anger of Southern whites:. The Negro troops, even at their best, were everywhere considered offensive by the native whites The Negro soldier, impudent by reason of his new freedom, his new uniform, and his new gun, was more than Southern temper could tranquilly bear, and race conflicts were frequent.
Often, these white Southerners identified as the "Conservative Party" or the "Democratic and Conservative Party" in order to distinguish themselves from the national Democratic Party and to obtain support from former Whigs. These parties sent delegates to the Democratic National Convention and abandoned their separate names by or Democrats nominated some blacks for political office and tried to steal other blacks from the Republican side.
When these attempts to combine with the blacks failed, the planters joined the common farmers in simply trying to displace the Republican governments.
The planters and their business allies dominated the self-styled "conservative" coalition that finally took control in the South. They were paternalistic toward the blacks but feared they would use power to raise taxes and slow business development. Fleming described the first results of the insurgent movement as "good," and the later ones as "both good and bad. The lynchings were used for intimidation and social control, with a frequency associated with economic stresses and the settlement of sharecropper accounts at the end of the season, than for any other reason.
Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer a northern scholar in explained:. Outrages upon the former slaves in the South there were in plenty. Their sufferings were many. But white men, too, were victims of lawless violence, and in all portions of the North and the late "rebel" states. Not a political campaign passed without the exchange of bullets, the breaking of skulls with sticks and stones, the firing of rival club-houses. Republican clubs marched the streets of Philadelphia, amid revolver shots and brickbats, to save the negroes from the "rebel" savages in Alabama The project to make voters out of black men was not so much for their social elevation as for the further punishment of the Southern white people—for the capture of offices for Radical scamps and the entrenchment of the Radical party in power for a long time to come in the South and in the country at large.
As Reconstruction continued, whites accompanied elections with increased violence in an attempt to run Republicans out of office and suppress black voting. The victims of this violence were overwhelmingly African American, as in the Colfax Massacre of After federal suppression of the Klan in the early s, white insurgent groups tried to avoid open conflict with federal forces.
In in the Battle of Liberty Place , the White League entered New Orleans with 5, members and defeated the police and militia, to occupy federal offices for three days in an attempt to overturn the disputed government of William Kellogg , but retreated before federal troops reached the city.
Their election-time tactics included violent intimidation of African-American and Republican voters prior to elections, while avoiding conflict with the U. Army or the state militias, and then withdrawing completely on election day. Conservative reaction continued in both the north and south; the "white liners" movement to elect candidates dedicated to white supremacy reached as far as Ohio in Chase , a leading Radical during the war, concluded that:.
Congress was right in not limiting, by its reconstruction acts, the right of suffrage to whites; but wrong in the exclusion from suffrage of certain classes of citizens and all unable to take its prescribed retrospective oath, and wrong also in the establishment of despotic military governments for the States and in authorizing military commissions for the trial of civilians in time of peace.
There should have been as little military government as possible; no military commissions; no classes excluded from suffrage; and no oath except one of faithful obedience and support to the Constitution and laws, and of sincere attachment to the constitutional Government of the United States.
By , President Ulysses S. Grant had alienated large numbers of leading Republicans, including many Radicals, by the corruption of his administration and his use of federal soldiers to prop up Radical state regimes in the South. The opponents, called "Liberal Republicans" , included founders of the party who expressed dismay that the party had succumbed to corruption.
They were further wearied by the continued insurgent violence of whites against blacks in the South, especially around every election cycle, which demonstrated the war was not over and changes were fragile. Leaders included editors of some of the nation's most powerful newspapers. Charles Sumner, embittered by the corruption of the Grant administration, joined the new party, which nominated editor Horace Greeley.
The badly organized Democratic party also supported Greeley. Grant made up for the defections by new gains among Union veterans and by strong support from the " Stalwart " faction of his party which depended on his patronage , and the Southern Republican parties.
Grant won with The Liberal Republican party vanished and many former supporters—even former abolitionists—abandoned the cause of Reconstruction.
In the South, political—racial tensions built up inside the Republican party as they were attacked by the Democrats. In , Georgia Democrats, with support from some Republicans, expelled all 28 black Republican members from the state house, arguing blacks were eligible to vote but not to hold office. In most states, the more conservative scalawags fought for control with the more radical carpetbaggers and their black allies. Most of the Republican newspapers in the South were edited by scalawags — only 20 percent were edited by carpetbaggers.
White businessmen generally boycotted Republican papers, which survived through government patronage. In Mississippi, the conservative faction led by scalawag James Lusk Alcorn was decisively defeated by the radical faction led by carpetbagger Adelbert Ames.
The party lost support steadily as many scalawags left it; few recruits were acquired. The most bitter contest took place inside the Republican Party in Arkansas, where the two sides armed their forces and confronted each other in the streets; no actual combat took place in the Brooks—Baxter War. The carpetbagger faction led by Elisha Baxter finally prevailed when the White House intervened, but both sides were badly weakened, and the Democrats soon came to power.
Meanwhile, in state after state the freedmen were demanding a bigger share of the offices and patronage, squeezing out carpetbagger allies but never commanding the numbers equivalent to their population proportion.
By the mids, "The hard realities of Southern political life had taught the lesson that black constituents needed to be represented by black officials. Finally, some of the more prosperous freedmen were joining the Democrats, as they were angered at the failure of the Republicans to help them acquire land.
The South was "sparsely settled"; only ten percent of Louisiana was cultivated, and ninety percent of Mississippi bottomland were undeveloped in areas away from the riverfronts, but freedmen often did not have the stake to get started.
They hoped government would help them acquire land which they would work. Only South Carolina created any land redistribution, establishing a land commission and resettling about 14, freedmen families and some poor whites on land purchased by the state.
Although historians such as W. Du Bois celebrated a cross-racial coalition of poor whites and blacks, such coalitions rarely formed in these years. Writing in , former Congressman Lynch, recalling his experience as a black leader in Mississippi, explained that,.
While the colored men did not look with favor upon a political alliance with the poor whites, it must be admitted that, with very few exceptions, that class of whites did not seek, and did not seem to desire such an alliance. Lynch reported that poor whites resented the job competition from freedmen. Furthermore, the poor whites. As a rule, therefore, the whites that came into the leadership of the Republican party between and were representatives of the most substantial families of the land.
By , the Democratic—Conservative leadership across the South decided it had to end its opposition to Reconstruction and black suffrage to survive and move on to new issues. The Grant administration had proven by its crackdown on the Ku Klux Klan that it would use as much federal power as necessary to suppress open anti-black violence.
Democrats in the North concurred with these Southern Democrats. They wanted to fight the Republican Party on economic grounds rather than race. The New Departure offered the chance for a clean slate without having to re-fight the Civil War every election. Furthermore, many wealthy Southern landowners thought they could control part of the newly enfranchised black electorate to their own advantage. Not all Democrats agreed; an insurgent element continued to resist Reconstruction no matter what.
Eventually, a group called "Redeemers" took control of the party in the Southern states. Railroad building was seen as a panacea since northern capital was needed. The new tactics were a success in Virginia where William Mahone built a winning coalition. Across the South, some Democrats switched from the race issue to taxes and corruption, charging that Republican governments were corrupt and inefficient.
But major planters, who had never paid taxes before, often recovered their property even after confiscation. Holden became the first governor in American history to be impeached and removed from office.
Republican political disputes in Georgia split the party and enabled the Redeemers to take over. In the North, a live-and-let-live attitude made elections more like a sporting contest. But in the Deep South, many white citizens had not reconciled with the defeat of the war or the granting of citizenship to freedmen. As an Alabama scalawag explained, "Our contest here is for life, for the right to earn our bread The Panic of a depression hit the Southern economy hard and disillusioned many Republicans who had gambled that railroads would pull the South out of its poverty.
The price of cotton fell by half; many small landowners, local merchants and cotton factors wholesalers went bankrupt. Sharecropping for black and white farmers became more common as a way to spread the risk of owning land.
The old abolitionist element in the North was aging away, or had lost interest, and was not replenished. Many carpetbaggers returned to the North or joined the Redeemers. Blacks had an increased voice in the Republican Party, but across the South it was divided by internal bickering and was rapidly losing its cohesion. Many local black leaders started emphasizing individual economic progress in cooperation with white elites, rather than racial political progress in opposition to them, a conservative attitude that foreshadowed Booker T.
Nationally, President Grant was blamed for the depression; the Republican Party lost 96 seats in all parts of the country in the elections. Tilden president in President Grant was not running for re-election and seemed to be losing interest in the South. States fell to the Redeemers, with only four in Republican hands in , Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina; Arkansas then fell after the violent Brooks—Baxter War in ripped apart the Republican party there.
In the lower South, violence increased as new insurgent groups arose, including the Red Shirts in Mississippi and the Carolinas, and the White League in Louisiana.
The disputed election in Louisiana in found both Republican and Democratic candidates holding inaugural balls while returns were reviewed. Both certified their own slates for local parish offices in many places, causing local tensions to rise. Finally, Federal support helped certify the Republican as governor. Slates for local offices were certified by each candidate.
In rural Grant Parish in Red River Valley , freedmen fearing a Democratic attempt to take over the parish government reinforced defenses at the small Colfax courthouse in late March. White militias gathered from the area a few miles outside the settlement. Rumors and fears abounded on both sides. William Ward, an African-American Union veteran and militia captain, mustered his company in Colfax and went to the courthouse. On Easter Sunday, April 13, , the whites attacked the defenders at the courthouse.
There was confusion about who shot one of the white leaders after an offer by the defenders to surrender. It was a catalyst to mayhem. In the end, three whites died and — blacks were killed, some 50 that evening while being held as prisoners. The disproportionate numbers of black to white fatalities and documentation of brutalized bodies are why contemporary historians call it the Colfax Massacre rather than the Colfax Riot, as it was known locally.
This marked the beginning of heightened insurgency and attacks on Republican officeholders and freedmen in Louisiana and other Deep South states. In Louisiana, Judge T.
Crawford and District Attorney P. Harris of the 12th Judicial District were shot off their horses and killed from ambush October 8, , while going to court.
One widow wrote to the Department of Justice that her husband was killed because he was a Union man and " Political violence was endemic in Louisiana. In the white militias coalesced into paramilitary organizations such as the White League , first in parishes of the Red River Valley. The new organization operated openly and had political goals: White League chapters soon rose in many rural parishes, receiving financing for advanced weaponry from wealthy men.
In the Coushatta Massacre in , the White League assassinated six white Republican officeholders and five to twenty black witnesses outside Coushatta , Red River Parish. Four of the white men were related to the Republican representative of the parish, who was married to a local woman; three were native to the region. Later in the White League mounted a serious attempt to unseat the Republican governor of Louisiana, in a dispute that had simmered since the election.
It brought troops to New Orleans to engage and overwhelm forces of the Metropolitan Police and state militia to turn Republican Governor William P. Kellogg out of office and seat John McEnery. The White League took over and held the state house and city hall, but they retreated before the arrival of reinforcing Federal troops.
Kellogg had asked for reinforcements before, and Grant finally responded, sending additional troops to try to quell violence throughout plantation areas of the Red River Valley, although 2, troops were already in the state. Similarly, the Red Shirts , another paramilitary group, arose in in Mississippi and the Carolinas. Like the White League and White Liner rifle clubs, to which 20, men belonged in North Carolina alone, these groups operated as a "military arm of the Democratic Party", to restore white supremacy.
Democrats and many northern Republicans agreed that Confederate nationalism and slavery were dead—the war goals were achieved—and further federal military interference was an undemocratic violation of historic Republican values. The victory of Rutherford Hayes in the hotly contested Ohio gubernatorial election of indicated his "let alone" policy toward the South would become Republican policy, as happened when he won the Republican nomination for president.
An explosion of violence accompanied the campaign for the Mississippi's election , in which Red Shirts and Democratic rifle clubs, operating in the open, threatened or shot enough Republicans to decide the election for the Democrats. Hundreds of black men were killed. Republican Governor Adelbert Ames asked Grant for federal troops to fight back; Grant initially refused, saying public opinion was "tired out" of the perpetual troubles in the South.
Ames fled the state as the Democrats took over Mississippi. The campaigns and elections of were marked by additional murders and attacks on Republicans in Louisiana, North and South Carolina, and Florida.
In South Carolina the campaign season of was marked by murderous outbreaks and fraud against freedmen. Red Shirts paraded with arms behind Democratic candidates; they killed blacks in the Hamburg and Ellenton SC massacres; and one historian estimated blacks were killed in the weeks before the election across South Carolina. Red Shirts prevented almost all black voting in two majority-black counties. Reconstruction continued in South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida until The elections of were accompanied by heightened violence across the Deep South.
A combination of ballot stuffing and intimidating blacks suppressed their vote even in majority black counties. The White League was active in Louisiana. After Republican Rutherford Hayes won the disputed presidential election , the national Compromise of was reached. The white Democrats in the South agreed to accept Hayes' victory if he withdrew the last Federal troops. By this point, the North was weary of insurgency. White Democrats controlled most of the Southern legislatures and armed militias controlled small towns and rural areas.
Blacks considered Reconstruction a failure because the Federal government withdrew from enforcing their ability to exercise their rights as citizens. On January 29, President Grant signed the Electoral Commission Act , which set up a member commission of 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats to settle the disputed election. The Electoral Commission awarded Rutherford B. Hayes the electoral votes he needed; Congress certified he had won by one electoral vote.
The Democrats had little leverage—they could delay Hayes' election, but they could not put their man Tilden in the White House. However, they agreed not to block Hayes' inauguration based on a "back room" deal. Key to this deal was the understanding that federal troops would no longer interfere in southern politics despite substantial election-associated violence against blacks. The Southern states indicated that they would protect the lives of African Americans although this obviously turned out to be far from reliable.
Hayes' friends also let it be known that he would promote Federal aid for internal improvements , including help for a railroad in Texas this never happened and name a Southerner to his cabinet this did happen. With the end to the political role of Northern troops, the President had no method to enforce Reconstruction, thus this "back room" deal signaled the end of American Reconstruction.
After assuming office on March 4, , President Hayes removed troops from the capitals of the remaining Reconstruction states, Louisiana and South Carolina, allowing the Redeemers to have full control of these states. President Grant had already removed troops from Florida, before Hayes was inaugurated, and troops from the other Reconstruction states had long since been withdrawn. Hayes appointed David M. By , thousands of African-American " Exodusters " packed up and headed to new opportunities in Kansas.
The Democrats gained control of the Senate, and had complete control of Congress, having taken over the House in Hayes vetoed bills from the Democrats that outlawed the Republican Enforcement Acts; however, with the military underfunded, Hayes could not adequately enforce these laws.
Blacks remained involved in Southern politics, particularly in Virginia, which was run by the biracial Readjuster Party. Numerous blacks were elected to local office through the s, and in the s in some states, biracial coalitions of Populists and Republicans briefly held control of state legislatures. In the last decade of the 19th century, southern states elected five black U. Congressmen before disfranchising constitutions were passed throughout the former Confederacy.
The interpretation of Reconstruction has been a topic of controversy. Nearly all historians hold that Reconstruction ended in failure but for very different reasons. The first generation of Northern historians believed that the former Confederates were traitors and Johnson was their ally who threatened to undo the Union's constitutional achievements.
By the s, however, Northern historians argued that Johnson and his allies were not traitors but had blundered badly in rejecting the 14th Amendment and setting the stage for Radical Reconstruction.
The black leader Booker T. Washington , who grew up in West Virginia during Reconstruction, concluded later that, "the Reconstruction experiment in racial democracy failed because it began at the wrong end, emphasizing political means and civil rights acts rather than economic means and self-determination.
Dunning analyzed Reconstruction as a failure after for different reasons. They claimed that Congress took freedoms and rights from qualified whites and gave them to unqualified blacks who were being duped by corrupt "carpetbaggers and scalawags.
Harry Williams who was a sharp critic of the Dunning school notes, the Dunningites portrayed the era in stark terms:.
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