What were the major goals of each of southern whites, victorious northerners and emancipated freedpeople between 1865 and 1877?

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the nation moved on from the Civil War in the 12 years following the conflict, the motivations and goals of the different levels of society could not have been more varied.  In part, it was their competing vision of the future of America and the South that made Reconstruction such an utter failure.

Northerners - In general, northerners were simply weary of war, and wanted to get on with their lives.  The North in 1865 was quite prosperous, and looking to expand westward and profit economically in the cities and elsewhere.  While the occupation of the South continued, the Constitution was changed and some reforms attempted, most people in the North remained racist, and largely ignored the South.  Carpetbaggers, profiteers and the Freedmen's Bureau were major exceptions.

Southern Whites - There were some in the South who were practical, and realized the only way to get ahead in the short term was to do business with the Yankees who occupied and invested in the South.  They were ostracized as traitors by their countrymen.  For the majority of the rest of the South, they wished to get on with the business of living and farming, and in the process wanted to preserve as much of the racial social structure as possible.

Emancipated Freedpeople - Freed slaves sought no revenge on their captors after the war, but did want an education, and they flocked to Freedmen's Bureau schools.  They also wanted their own land to farm, and wanted to exercise their new equality in the voting booth and the courts. This was not to be, however, at least in the short term.