Failures Of Reconstruction

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lprono's profile pic

lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Historians generally agree that Reconstruction was a period of extraordinary chages for American society, politics and for the Constitution itself. Yet, very few of these changes proved lasting and economic and political interests linked with conservatism and racism managed to hamper the most revolutionary projects of the era. In the end, continuity, rather than a clear break with the ante-bellum period, prevailed. This was due to Southern resistance to change, but also to the increasing loss of interest in the North on the topic of equality.

The former slaves' major goal to achieve equality with whites was soon frustrated and equal rights between the races remained an unresolved question. Reconstruction failed to modify Southern society and redistribute wealth. Although free, former slaves continued to be exploited by whites and could not own any land which remained concentrated in white hands. Land redistribution would have been essential to change Southern society, but Congress feared that such a radical act could have been interpreted as an attack on private property.

in addition, Reconstruction could not prevent violence against African Americans and the spreading of the Ku Klux Klan throughout the South. Southern legislators often did not make major changes to the slave codes except for the replacement of the word slave with freedmen or balck.

The constitutional changes brought about by the Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen Amendments did not achieve their revolutionary potential. By the end of Reconstruction, African Americans were still subaltern to whites and did not have key civil rights such as the suffrage.


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geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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The Reconstruction era of American history failed to place the southern governments and the U. S. Representatives and Senatorsfrom the South, permanently uder the hedgemony of the Republican party.

Right off of the top of my head, I can't think of any other goal that Reconstruction intended to accomplish, so only one goal, only one failure.

Well, yes I can. The War Between the States and Reconstruction were intended to destroy the plantation hegemonic social system of the South and place the South securely within the industrial hegemonic social system of the North. Success was had in this, even though the Republican party did not getpermanent control of the reigns of power. That is to say, the Democratic party evolved into more of a creature of industrialism, as the Republican party had been from the time of its creation, and, ever since, the two parties have shared power.

After the War, Freedmen were allowed to own land and black soldiers returning from the northern army, who had saved their pay for the purpose, bought farms. Other blacks also saved money and bought farms. Many farmers, though, (most black farmers and many white farmers), were tenants on former plantations.

The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution did effect a big revolution in U. S. government, but theydid not accomplishall of the purposes for which they had been intended

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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The failure of Reconstruction...

1.The status of former slaves after the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were not fully recognized. (African Americans experienced limited economic opportunity, were devoid of popular sovereignty (voting) due to the poll taxes and literacy tests. The result was the return to the status-quo in the south while the north generally ignored the discrimination which ultimately led to the restoration of white control control in the south and what would become known as 'de jure' segregation.

2 The new agricultural system of sharecropping (perpetuated the plantation system)

3.The allowance of the crop lien system (borrow money on the asset of harvest) which ironically never measured up

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

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Reconstruction failed to change the basic race relations equation in the US (because there was no way it could), which would have been necessary for real progress in that area.  It failed to elevate freed slaves into anything like educational or economic equality.  And it failed to enforce those progressive Reconstruction policies that did pass.  So we had a lot of success on paper, and generations would pass before it came to fruition.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Three failures of Reconstruction were political, social and economic. On the political side, the Nortn and South were barely on speaking terms and the South resented the North. On the social side, the slaves were freed but not really accepted into society. On the economic side, not having slaves was a shock to the economy, as was the war itself since it was fought more on Southern soil.
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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think #2 makes a very strong case for arguing that the biggest failure of Reconstruction was its inability to seriously address and impact racial relations. Although Reconstruction had the potential to seriously redress the imbalance of power, what emerged did not at all meet that potential and still left rife racial inequalities that would take much longer to resolve.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Reconstruction never actually reconstructed the South. it was still in shatters and it let one of the greatest injustices remain in place and that was segregation. If Reconstruction actually worked, there would have been more done for civil rights of black people, rather than make things just as bad as it was before