How did Southerners feel about Reconstruction?
4 Answers | Add Yours
Not all Southerners felt the same way about Reconstruction, but the general feeling was that they were being occupied by a hostile foreign power.
First of all, we should not that black Southerners generally liked Reconstruction. After all, it was meant in many ways to protect their rights. Therefore, they typically were in favor of it.
Second, there were white Southerners who approved of Reconstruction. Many of these were people who had not approved of secession in the first place. These people have become known to history by the pejorative term "scalawags."
Finally, there were the majority of white Southerners who hated Reconstruction. During this time, they had governments imposed on them by military rule. These governments gave rights to the freed slaves who the whites despised. For these reasons, many whites did things like joining the KKK or similar groups or, at least, supporting the goals and aims of those groups.
Overall, then, the average white Southerner hated Reconstruction while the typical black Southerner liked it.
Needless to say, Southerners were bitter about the Reconstruction policies imposed upon them by the United States. Already defeated in war and devastated economically and socially, the former states of the Confederacy received further punitive restrictions from 1865-1877. Southerners naturally despised the influx of newcomers who came to rule most of the states. There were Carpetbaggers, recent arrivals from the North who came south seeking financial and political gain; Scalawags, Southerners who aligned themselves with the new political leaders; the hated Republican Party, which would prove to show widespread corruption for most of the decade as well as raising taxes; and Freedmen, former slaves who now claimed equal status with the rest of the white populace. Of couse, positive things occurred as the South rebuilt itself. Railroads were extended throughout the South where most had previously been maintained in mostly rural areas. Schools were built in abundance, and education of all children was stressed. But for most Southerners, Reconstruction seemed a time of punishment by the Federal government for their previous secession, and many attitudes reflected a similar theme as in pre-war days: "We don't want you down here."
Most of the South was not pleased with the government and the attempt at Reconstruction. There were too many requirements of the Southern States, the biggest of which was allowing the freed slaves the right to vote.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes