What factors led to the reconciliation between the sections after the Civil War?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I must respectfully disagree with the above post which I believe to be misleading. The North and South most certainly did not have a "kiss and make up" session after the war and did not do so for almost 100 years thereafter.

At the end of the war, the South was occupied militarily. Congress exercised its power under the Constitution to guarantee every state a republican form of government to insist that the southern states ratify the 13th 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution as a condition of having their representatives in Congress seated. This forced policy caused great resentment in the Soutyh, and there was disagreement and discord. Residents of the South felt bitter and resentful while those of the North were vindictive and vengeful. Troops were only withdrawn from the South as part of the Compromise of 1877 to ensure the election of the Republican, Rutherford B. Hayes to the White House.

Even after the 1877 Election, hard feelings continued. The South used Jim Crow laws to keep Blacks as near slavery as possible. The Ku Klux Klan ran rampant through the South, detemined to prevent Black progress. The Supreme Court decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson of 1896 which gave credence to "separate but equal," played into the hands of the South which remained segregated for many years. Resentful of its treatment during Reconstruction, the South voted almost uniformly Democratic until the election of 1964.  Those in the North were no less forgiving. For many years, Northern historians, who authored most of the U.S. History texts used in American schools purposely downplayed the role of the South in American history before the war. The Jamestown settlement was given scarce mention while the Puritan and Pilgrim settlements were glorified. In the election of 1868, a Republican Congressman stated on the floor of the House:

Every man that tried to destroy this nation was a Democrat. . . . The man that assassinated Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat. . . . Soldiers, every scar you have on your heroic bodies was given you by a Democrat!

Although the North and South were re-united, it was a marriage of convenience rather than a true reconciliation. Sadly, vestiges of the old resentment are still common, although many would deny it. Many people from the North consider those of the South to be backward and narrowminded; while Southern Americans regard people from the North with some degree of suspicion and distrust. To the extent that there has been reconciliation between the North and South, it has been ardous and painful. The very issues which the above post states as causes of reconciliation were actually factors which kept the two sides separated for many years.



pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The North and the South reconciled for two major reasons.  First, they had a shared history and both thought of themselves as essentially American.  Second, once slavery ended, there was little to make them dislike one another.

First, the two sections had, of course, been part of the same country for almost 90 years.  This meant that Northerners and Southerners both thought of themselves as American.  There was only a short time during the war when they were enemies and their common history overrode that not long after the war ended.

Second, after slavery ended, there was little obvious reason for conflict between the two sides.  During Reconstruction, the issue of black rights separated the two sides temporarily.  However, Northerners did not care enough about the issue to continue to push the South on it for long.  Once the North stopped pushing for black rights, there were no major issues causing sectional conflict.

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