What national issues and attitudes combined to bring an end to Reconstruction by 1877?
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There were two major types of issues and attitudes that led to the end of Reconstruction in 1877.
First, there were political issues. By 1877, the United States in general, and the North in particular, had other things on its mind than Reconstruction. The Grant administration had often been rocked by scandals such as the infamous “Whiskey Ring.” This had made good government a major issue in the minds of many. There had also been an economic crash, known as the Panic of 1873, which was still causing major economic disruption by 1877. These issues took the spotlight off of Reconstruction.
Second, there were racial issues and attitudes towards democracy. It was hard for Americans to continue to take the right to self-government away from other white Americans. It goes against the grain of our national ethos. Right after the Civil War, passions were high enough to allow this to happen. By 1877, however, many Northern whites were tired of taking self-government from Southern whites largely for the benefit of African Americans. They were not committed to the idea of black rights or equality. Therefore, they were not very interested in continuing to reduce democracy for the sake of African Americans in the South.
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