At the end of the Civil War, what were the goals of the defeated southerners?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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At the end of the Civil War, the primary goal of most defeated Southerners was simply to rebuild. The war had devastated the South in terms of resources and people, and had destroyed the limited infrastructure, including railroads and many major cities, in the South. So it was essential to begin rebuilding. However, very quickly, many (but not all) Southerners became focused on restoring a society with as little change from the antebellum period as possible. This entailed the reassertion of white supremacy, and southern legislatures and local governments quickly passed "black codes" with this goal in mind. It was these black codes, and naked acts of discrimination against blacks, as well as the intransigence of some southern political leaders, that prompted federal action in the form of Congressional Reconstruction.

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jbledbetter | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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I imagine those goals would be centered around rebuilding and reshaping. The government had to be replaced and reformed from top to bottom, from tiny local government positions to top governors and congressmen. Currency had to be changed over, postoffices had to rejoin and social class lines had to be redrawn. Many cities had to rebuild and soldiers, who had be away from home had to readjust to life. Farming and agriculture would still remain the main industry but without slavery big farms and plantations would have to find another way of producing (share cropping). Living and working in a society where African Americans were now free and a vital part of the economy would also take some getting used to. I think to some it took years to set in that the war was over and that there was no hope of leaving the Union. Case in point, John Wilkes Booth's idea of assasination was bedded in the belief that he could spark the war in the favor of the South. Mostly I would think that ordinary folks wanted to get back to their ordinary lives. The wealthy and politicians would see the most change, of course outside of the newly free slaves who now had the right to vote and hold political office. The newly freed slaves would have an abundance of goals and dreams. Hope this helps.

djmleo's profile pic

djmleo | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

According to the text book they each had at least 3 goals or dreams.. I don't know what those are... can someone help?

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