Was Reconstruction A Success

Was the Reconstruction Period a failure, success, or something in between?

Please include Political, social and economic changes. Rise of Terrorism. Expansion of Citizenship for Blacks. Psycological factors. Amnesty for Southern Radicals. Loyalty oaths. Affect on the Reconstruction Period.

3 Answers

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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There were stunning social and economic successes and failures as well.  Socially, Reconstruction successfully put blacks on equal legal footing with whites, but did not change southern (or national) racist sentiment.  Slavery had ended, but it was replaced with something else.

Most importantly, Reconstruction began a social change by starting schools for freed slaves, and basic literacy for nearly 200,000 former slaves was achieved in only six years.  But that funding was cut in 1871, and the remaining 3.8 million freedmen were still uneducated.

Economically, limited land reform ideas had been pursued, most notably in the South Carolina Sea Islands and the Davis Bend Plantation, where former slaves received their own land to farm, and did amazingly well, forming co-ops and sharing costs and labor.  But no widespread land reform happened, and another golden opportunity was missed.

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npoore84 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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In many ways the Reconstruction era can be considered both a failure and a success. It was a success due to the fact that the United States could finally be called the "United" States again. It ended the separation between the North and South, and ended the South trying to separate themselves from the North. Each state in the South had a new draft of their state constitution. New amendments were added to the Constitution: the 13, 14, and 15. These amendments granted equal rights to people of all color. The  Civil War and Reconstruction era also helped resolve the federalism dispute between Kentucky and Virginia. Because of the reconstruction era, the United States was now a nation, not just a country.

Although there were many positives and successes to the Reconstruction era, there were many negatives associated with giving slaves their freedom. The economy of the South plundered because there were now fewer people to work on the plantations. The racist group, the KKK, became more prominent in the South attacking both blacks and whites striving to gain equal rights for people of all color. The sharecropping system came into effect which was not a positive thing for blacks. Although they were given a portion of land to farm and to earn a profit, it was still very similar to slavery.

Due to the depression of the 1870's, reconstruction of the South was put on hold so others could focus on their own financial situation. The Democrats took hold of the House and came up with the 1877 Compromise, pulling federal troops out of the South. As a result, blacks would not truly gain equality until the 1960's.

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biffknee21 | eNotes Newbie

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Was Reconstruction a success or a failure? Or was it something in between? In your response, consider land policy, key legislation during Presidential and Radical Reconstruction, southern politics, racial and political violence, and northern “fatigue” with Reconstruction. Be sure to make clear what you mean by success and failure.