Race Riots in the South (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Economic and social disparities between the races, along with a continuing military presence, lead to violence during Reconstruction.
Summary of Event
Racial disturbances in Memphis and New Orleans in 1866 were the result of economic, social, and political issues that troubled the nation during Reconstruction. Given the upheaval in the lives of Southerners after the Civil War, the racial disturbances are hardly surprising. In the simplest terms, one of the major tasks of Reconstruction was to assimilate the more than four million former slaves into U.S. society. A more complex view must consider the problems faced by the newly freed African Americans who had to achieve a new identity in a society that had allowed them no control over their own lives. White Southerners had to live with the economic, social, and political consequences of defeat. The military occupation of the South by federal troops after the Civil War angered Southerners, who believed in their right to rebuild and rule their own society without interference from the North. The presence of federal troops (many of them African Americans), an armed citizenry, and the psychological difficulty of accepting the end of the world they had known created explosive conditions that erupted into violence.
The Memphis and New Orleans riots were one result of this upheaval. Soon after the surrender of the Confederate army at Appomattox in...
(The entire section is 1348 words.)
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