The Major Failures of the U. S. Reconstruction policies after the Civil War The U. S. Reconstruction policies were developed and implemented by Congress to apply some sort of order to the southern states after the Civil War. The policies were designed to aid the failing government in combating the economic, political, and social problems that resulted post-war. Reconstruction began in 1865 and lasted until 1877 and that period is known to be one of the most tumultuous times of the United States history. Although, the U. S. government tried hard to firmly push Reconstruction; it ultimately failed.
The research conducted will identify and explain the major failures within the U. S. Reconstruction policies. One of the main reasons why Reconstruction failed was due to the poor condition of former slaves. The south viewed Reconstruction as humiliating to them therefore they did not welcome the new policies with open arms. However, in March of 1865 Congress established the Freedmen’s Bureau to protect African Americans quality of life. The Freedmen’s Bureau would help ex-slaves move towards a life of being self-sufficient and blend into American Society. In December of 1865 the U.
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S. Congress ratified the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution therefore abolishing slavery. However, again Southern state legislatures refused the approval of the 13th Amendment and also began to deny African Americans the right to become full citizens of the United States. Surprisingly, Congress began to widely support the decision to grant blacks full citizenship. Nevertheless, southern Whites adopted “Black Codes” that were designed to regulate certain activity a freed slave could participate in. The codes would vary from state to state but were similar in more ways than one.
Ex-slaves would be subject to enter uncompromising labor contracts with harsh violation consequences such as trading off dependents to pay off fines or corporal punishments. Congress passed a civil rights bill in addition to developing a new Freedmen’s Bureau in July of 1866. These rulings prevented southern legislatures from discriminating against blacks. Shortly after the new Freedmen’s Bureau was effective, the 14th Amendment came to pass. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states “all persons born or naturalized in the U. S. and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. ” African Americans were now allowed to enjoy their lives in a non-slave society by engaging in voting, earning a living for their families, and make use of everyday public resources. This caused southern Whites to rebel in their own way by forming the Ku Klux Klan a racially-charged hate organization. Reconstruction did not help change social classes. Another major failure within the U. S. Reconstruction policies was the dropped prices of crops and the weakened economy.
After the Civil War ended the South’s economy was severely weakened and the land was left battered. The total amount of money lost due to the abolition of slavery was equivalent to $4 billion. Farmers’ crops were steady declining because there were no slaves to tend to fields. Many of them were forced to work their own land to make a decent living but could not survive on the meager earnings. The South entered the worst depression ever at that time. The price of cotton dropped by fifty percent as well as other crops such as tobacco, rice, and sugar did too. The depression disrupted commerce, bankrupted merchants, seriously undermined the economic situation or artisans, and all but eliminated prospects for social mobility among unskilled laborers of both races” (Bukisa. com). Another major failure in regard to the Reconstruction policies was the involvement of African Americans in politics. Even though the Reconstruction Era was dedicated to converting the South to a non-slave society, southern whites did not want to incorporate blacks into their American Society.
After all the countless court rulings to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments Blacks still has little power. They were at some point able to vote and even run for political office but that privilege quickly reverted back to the Old South’s way of life. “Many people blamed the Reconstruction failure on Black politics calling it a “Negro government. Even some newspapers that were in favor of Reconstruction blamed Blacks legislatures” (The History Connection). Southern Whites did however; find ways of getting around upholding blacks as citizens by adopting Jim Crow Laws and the Black Codes.