The Reconstruction Era
Was the Reconstruction Era successful? When the Reconstruction era began it was a period of time of many leaders, good intentions and achievements. The goals of the Reconstruction era was to reconstruct or mend the social and political customs of the South so that Northern industrialism could be assured of national leadership. The purpose of the Reconstruction era was to unite the nation, reintegrate a former slave population and to reintegrate a former rebel population. To answer the question that everyone is asking, the Reconstruction Era was both a failure and a success. Granted it did help African Americans extend to different aspects such as education, freedom, the right to vote, etc but after Abraham Lincoln passed away, former slaves were politically free but they were not socially free nor were they economically free.
The 13th amendment states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” But what makes someone politically free? To be politically free is to have the right to participate in government and to also have protection under the law. After the 13th amendment was passed During Reconstruction, seven hundred African American men served in elected public office, among them two United States Senators, and fourteen members of the United States House of Representatives and around 2,000 African Americans held government jobs but many former slaves were living in desperate rural poverty across the South.
What makes someone socially free? To be socially free is being educated, to be allowed to meet freely and have equal status as freed people. To be socially free is to have the ability to interact with all races without restriction.Black churches became centerpieces of African American culture and community, not only as places of personal spiritual renewal and communal worship but also as centers for learning, socializing, and political organization. Family, church, and school became centers of black life after slavery. Even though former slaves were fighting to maintain their independence and gain economic liberty during the early years if Reconstruction, caucasian landowners controlled the labor force through a system that was similar to the one that they used during slavery. After slavery, government across the South instituted laws known as Black Codes. These laws granted certain legal rights to blacks, including the right to marry, own property, and sue in court, but the Codes also made it illegal for blacks to serve on juries, testify against whites, or serve in state militias.
The South’s main purpose was to restrict African Americans labor and activity. A quote from document C says “forty armed men (white) and shot at us and takin’ my horse. Said they were going to kill ever’ nigger they found leaving their masters; and taking all of our clothes and bed-clothing and money. I had to work away to get a white man to get my horse.” Even after the 13th amendment was passed former slaves were still being mistreated after slavery ended. They were still being beaten, shot at, hung, etc.
What makes someone economically free? To be economically free is being financially independent, owning property and being self sufficient. To have open access to any economic opportunity. African Americans were not economically free, they were still being denied education and wages under slavery, former slaves were often forced by the needs of their economic development circumstances to rent land from former white slave owners. These sharecroppers paid rent on the land by giving a portion of their crop to the landowner.
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