Analyze Radical Reconstruction as it related to emancipated slaves. Did it accomplish it's goals?

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The goals of Radical Reconstruction were incredibly ambitious and only half realized due to political opposition and an eventually loss of support amongst Republicans in the north.

After the Civil War, Radical Republicans in congress made it their mission to try and support he newly freed slaves of the south. Andrew Johnson, then president of the United States, had little interest in helping slaves and did not include any sort of support mechanism in his own Reconstruction plans. Eventually, his inaction on that and other issues would lead to his near impeachment and the Republican Congress taking over Reconstruction.

Republican wanted to help African Americans in the south improve their lot through political and social program, so it could be said that the goals of Reconstruction were autonomy and equality for former slaves and poor whites. They passed several acts at the state and national level to accomplish these goals. The Freedman’s Bureau Act created a new department of the government, which helped support freed slaves (freedman) through education, wage bargaining, and civil rights. Schools were built for both whites and blacks in the south. Infrastructure such as transportation and medical care were repaired and rebuilt. The U.S. army, who were sent south with the Military Reconstruction Act, protected African Americans.

By 1870, things were beginning to improve. African Americans held 20% of all elected offices in the south. Literacy for blacks and whites rose sharply. Racially motivated hate crimes began to fall when President Grant passed the Enforcement Act and the Klan Act to target white terrorist groups. It looked like Reconstruction was beginning to work, at least from a northern/Republican point of view.

However, by the mid-1870’s many whites in the north were getting sick and tired of Reconstruction. Corruption in the Grant administration, the amount of money being spent and the growing crisis on the Great Plains all contributed to the Democrats gaining power in key northern states since they promised to wrap up Reconstruction by removing federal oversight.

After the disputed presidential election of 1876, the Republican party agreed to turn over Reconstruction to the southern states if the Democrats supported the Republican candidate.

What followed was a total reversal of all the gains that Reconstruction succeeded in accomplishing. Voting rights for African Americans were curtailed, Jim Crow laws were passed, and segregation became the order of the day. This is why Reconstruction could be seen as a failed endeavor.        

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Reconstruction was a project that put the US on the path to what we are today, which is a culture of rebuilding after a war, but I would not say that reconstruction accomplished all its goals, no.


Lincoln initially instructed a 10% mandate (10% of the state must swear loyalty to the union). He shot down the Wade Davis bill, which was much more aggressive. After Lincoln was shot, Republicans wanted to institute his Reconstruction plans -- but they wanted to do so with much stricter rules and regulations for the southern states. They mandated that the southern states sign a sworn statement of loyalty to the US in a larger percent than Lincoln's ten. 


When Andrew Johnson became president, Reconstruction took a slight turn. It still happened, but it didn't take as aggressive a stance as former slaves needed. Reconstruction began to, largely, serve the whites. Blacks were free, but they still had to deal with sharecropping, an inability to vote, and racism. The Freedmen's Bureau, formed to help blacks and the poor (40 acres and a mule!) wound up giving most of its assistance to whites. 


Emancipated slaves were largely forgotten by reconstruction and would be ignored by the federal government until the civil rights movement of the 60s.

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