The Era of Reconstruction following the Civil War was a period marked by an intense struggle to restore a worn-out and devastated society.The war, which was aimed at confronting the national problem of slavery, only led to subsequent dilemmas over emancipation and an undefined condition of freedom.Some had naively believed that ending slavery would solve the problem of racial inequality, overlooking the prejudice and uninviting atmosphere towards blacks.Questions over how to reinstate a disloyal population with the fall of the Confederacy and restore a destroyed southern territory rang throughout the nation.
Although the former slaves were undeniably freed, the foundations for a racial democracy were laid, and the country was once again united, overall, Reconstruction was a period of political strife, shortcomings, and general failure. After the war, the South was left in a state of complete turmoil.Passing armies had shattered the South’s agricultural economy with the burning of buildings, destroying of crops, and killing of livestock.
Southern industry was also badly hurt, as assets needed to support loans were lost in the war.More importantly, the South, for thefirst time ever, was without an easy profit economy based on slavery. Racial prejudice was as strong as ever and many white southerners, with a feeling of superiority found it difficult to adjust to the new way of life.To the dismay of many freedmen, President Johnson returned to whites the plantations that the Union Army had given to blacks during the war.
Many freedmen were forced to endure sharecropping in which they rented land from white planters and relinquished a portion of their harvest. As a result, poor farmers were gradually pushed into extreme debt and became victims of a burdensome tenancy. The black codes passed by the legislators of Southern states also suppressed blacks.
Reconstruction is the rebuilding process that followed the American Civil War. The war lasted from 1861-1865 and at thet end of the war many questions concerning the South and slavery were left unanswered. These problems were what to do about the relationship between the Union and the Confederates. Other questions that arose were, how those who were responsible for the rebellion should be punished and what to do with the newly freed slaves. The freedom of the slaves also caused great economic problems due to the absence of free labor.
Even during the war the idea of reconstruction was present. As the Union forces started to gain more control the idea attracted more attention. By 1863 most Northerners were confident that the South should be made into a society based on free labor, equal rights, and it, would be run under the republican way of government. There were many radicals present in the Republican party which had plans to totally restructure the South and all aspects of it. These were few and far between and posed no real threat to the South.
From this Republican ideology about equal rights came thefirst breakthrough for African Americans, the 13th Amendmnent to the Constitution. The 13th Amendment was ratified in 1865 and it granted slaves their freedom and abolished slavery from the Unites States. The government set aside special land for the freed slaves to establish themselves on and Congress established the, ” Freedman’s Bureau ” which provided services to freed slaves.