What differences and similarities were there between the roles of the North and the South during Reconstruction?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were differences between the roles of the North and the South during Reconstruction. The North was in charge of administering the Reconstruction program. The southern states had to comply with the requirements of the Republican plan. As a result, the southern states had to write new state constitutions before they would be readmitted to the Union. The South was also divided into five military districts as the military was stationed in the South to oversee the process of Reconstruction. There were many projects going on in the South to help rebuild it from the devastation caused by the Civil War.

There were some similarities in the roles of the North and the South during Reconstruction. One similarity is that industries began to develop in the South as a result of Reconstruction. While farming still remained dominant, the South began to have other industries as well. This helped the South to diversify its economy to some degree. By developing industries, the South was able to manufacture some products, just like the North had been doing for years. Another similarity is that as the southern states reentered the Union, they began to take part in the political process. Most southerners could vote in federal elections, such as for President and for Congress. A third similarity is that eventually both the North and the South wanted Reconstruction to end. With many of the Radical Republican leaders no longer in office by the mid-1870s, there was a desire to end Reconstruction in the North. The South never liked Reconstruction and certainly wanted it to end.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The biggest difference between the roles of the two sections was, of course, the fact that the North was generally running the Reconstruction governments while the South was in a subordinate position.  While the Reconstruction governments were made up largely of Southerners, the North had power over those governments and was therefore the dominant party.

The similarity in their roles became more apparent as enthusiasm for Reconstruction waned.  A group of "liberal Republicans" (see this link) came to agree with the South that the Reconstruction governments should be done away with.  They believed that these governments were corrupt and the African Americans were not ready to govern themselves.  These liberal Republicans, along with Southern "redeemer" helped to end Reconstruction.

At the beginning of Reconstruction, there was more of a difference between the roles of the two sides.  As time went by, the differences faded and eventually both sides played a part in ending Reconstruction.