What were the goals of reconstruction following the Civil War?Were these goals acomplished?

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geosc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Reconstruction commenced, the South had just been reunited with the Union by the most violent war ever fought on the North American continent.  (There was no question of a peaceable reunion; the Southern states no longer had any say in the matter. Nor was Reconstruction about rebuilding the South. Whites were to remain more impoverished after the War than they had been before the War for at least a generation; blacks remained more impoverished after than before the War for about four generations.) The goals of Reconstruction were to reconstruct or reform the social and political institutions of the South so that Northern industrialism could be assured of national hegemony. Before the War, there had been so many wealthy planters that the agricultural social system competed with the industrial social system for hegemony in the southern part of the nation. When big businessmen and their politicians wanted to enact higher taxes, or spend more taxes in the North than in the South, big agriculturalist and their politicians often opposed them. The War had destroyed most of the wealthy planters. Without wealthy planters, agriculture could have little power in the federal government. The goals of Reconstruction were to see that there would be no new wealthy planters and that the electorate would be so constituted that more of the people elected to Congress would be favorable to or at least not hostile to the hegemony of industrialism throughout the nation, South as well as North. To this latter end, blacks were given the vote and organized and marched to the polls and told to vote Republican; most Southern whites were not allowed to vote. Reconstruction ended when the national hegemony of industrialism was assured.

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The goal, of President Lincoln and his supporters, was to rejoin all of the states to the Union and to help rebuild the "South".  Lincoln was going to grant amnesty to all that rejoined the Union without fear of punishment.  He was committed to following through with the Emancipation of the Slaves, and to make sure of their future in the United States of America.  Were these goals met?  It depends on which history book you read.  If you read a book published before 1960 then no the goals were not reached.  According to William Dunning’s late nineteenth-century theory:

"the failure of Reconstruction could be blamed on carpetbaggers, (Northerners who came south) scalawags (southern Republicans who supported the Union), and freed slaves."

However, if you were enrolled in school following 1965 your history books might follow the ideology of John Franklin, who believed the Reconstruction was more successful.

"Franklin’s perspective on Reconstruction was almost point-for-point the exact opposite of Dunning’s. While Franklin acknowledged that Radical Republican governments were often corrupt, he mostly defended the actions taken by freed blacks, southern white Republicans, and what he termed “so-called carpetbaggers.” "

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, the goal of Reconstruction was to restore the union and compromise with the Southern states that ceded before and during the war.  In order for Lincoln to restore our union he had to allow some flexibility with new laws so that the South would be want to come back to the union peacefully.  The country was in a fragile state and even though many northerners were ready for complete civil rights for African Americans, if that were to happen the South would not be willing to come back to the Union.  First of all Lincoln and his Congress created the 13th amendment that would completely abolish slavery, which was the beginning stages of restoration. 

lonisha09 | Student

The goals of reconstruction were to readmit and rebuild the Confederate states and help African Americans back into society.

rychoh | Student

The goals of reconstruction were to 1. Keep blacks safe and 2. bring the south back in peacefully.  When lincoln died everyone thought that the reconstruction was finished but with Johnson as his V.P. ,and since Johnson was also a democrat, he tried to put looser polices on the south because he was on the fence.  Unfortunatley the congress had conservitive republicans, and they keep over turning his veto on tough laws on the south.  Johnson would later be tried on a unnrelated, lesser thing that almost empeatched him.