How did the South after Reconstruction compare to the South before the Civil War? 

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After Reconstruction , the South was still trying to recover from the Civil War.  The infrastructure in the region was still in shambles, especially in the Lower South, along the route William Sherman took on his March to the Sea.  Politically, poor and middle class whites had more power than...

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After Reconstruction, the South was still trying to recover from the Civil War.  The infrastructure in the region was still in shambles, especially in the Lower South, along the route William Sherman took on his March to the Sea.  Politically, poor and middle class whites had more power than they did before the war, though poor whites were still sharecroppers in many instances.  The region's economy was starting to diversify, with Alabama starting to produce more iron and textile mills coming to North Carolina, in order to take advantage of the surplus of labor in the South.  The South remained a rural region and sharecropping would be a way of life and generational poverty until WWII.  Reconstruction brought the end of slavery, but many places passed their own "black codes" which made it a crime for blacks to travel with passes or to loiter.  Many blacks were arrested and put on chain gangs in the post-Reconstruction South.  Even though slavery was not an institution like it was before the war, life was still hard for African Americans in the postwar South.  The South had most of the nation's millionaires before the war; after the war, the South had some of the highest poverty rates in the nation.  One of the best things to come out of Reconstruction for the South was public education; before the war, poor children of all races did not have access to this and many were illiterate.  

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Culturally, the antebellum South looked very different than the Northern states. The Civil War was fought in part to force the South to give up their "old-fashioned" way of life and adopt the Northern culture.

In the mid-19th century, the North was a hotbed of industry and urbanization, looking to the future as their societal roadmap. Cities were rapidly developing the characteristic traits that would help America dominate the global market in the 20th century. Alongside industry and business blossomed new political ideology, including a widespread belief in a universal right to freedom. 

By contrast, the conservative South looked to the past for guidance. Many viewed the American South as a new great Classical civilization in the style of Ancient Greece or Rome (hence city names like Athens, and a reconstructed Parthenon in Nashville). Culture was dependent on agriculture, which kept many landowners quite wealthy. Conservative morals came from Protestant Christianity. 

Reconstruction became a difficult process when the North tried to force the South to adopt a way of life they were not yet collectively ready for. The plantations (built on slavery) collapsed. Anarchy ran rampant after so many young men were killed in battle. 

While a certain degree of harmony was reached eventually (after many decades), the post-war South experienced many of the same hardships that we've seen time and time again in conquered post-war environments. It is never so easy as "evil" leaders simply getting overthrown and the people happily picking up a new form of democracy. 

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There were some changes in the South as a result of Reconstruction. Before the Civil War, the South was primarily an agricultural region with lots of slavery. There were few industries in the South. Many African-Americans were slaves and had no freedoms.

Once Reconstruction ended, some things changed. The South began to diversify its economy. More industries developed. Farming was still important, but new industries formed in the region. Slavery had ended, and African-Americans, in theory, had more freedom.

However, some things were similar in the South after Reconstruction ended. White attitudes towards African-Americans didn’t change much. Many whites still wanted to deny African-Americans their rights. Laws and policies were developed after Reconstruction ended to accomplish this. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses were examples of attempts to keep African-Americans from voting. Jim Crow laws were passed to keep the races apart. Many of the gains made during Reconstruction were reversed after Reconstruction ended. The southern way of life also continued. The South still remained a rural area with a relaxed way of living.

While there were some differences, in some ways, the South wasn't all that different from the days before the Civil War began compared to the days after Reconstruction ended.

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