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Civil War Reconstruction

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Essay title: Civil War Reconstruction

The period of Reconstruction began immediately after the Civil War and ended in 1877. This era is known for the advancements made in favor of racial equality. These improvements included the fourteenth amendment, “this law guaranteed that federal and state laws would apply equally and unequivocally to both African Americans and whites” (civil-war.ws), and the fifteenth amendment, which granted freedmen to vote. With the end of Reconstruction in 1877, the Republican Party lost control of the southern governments and the Democratic Party took over. This shift in power was supposed to mark the beginning of the "New South" in which the virtues of thrift, industry, and progress would become the model characteristics of the South. Confederates at the time saw Reconstruction as both benefiting and hurting them. They did not want northern culture to be pressured on to there society but they greatly appreciated the help in rebuilding their homes and cities in hope of a better future. Their plans and ideas for the better south looked as if to be perfect at the time but as the government would soon find out they had many flaws. The changes in the South from 1877-1900 reflected traditional attitudes and policies, such as power in the hands of a conservative oligarchy, the maintaining of agriculture over industry as the primary source of economics, and the return of white supremacy, rather than the vision of the New South.

With the change in political power from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in 1877, the South again was back to mainly all white governments which eliminated any political gains African Americans had made during Reconstruction. Democratic Party also marked a return to a powerful, conservative oligarchy, which had been the case before the Civil War. These democrats referred to themselves as the "Redeemers" but where refereed by many as "Bourbons" because of their aristocratic ways. This ruling class consisted of the former plantation owners and new leaders that were merchants, industrialists, railroad developers, and financiers. Even though they promised to improve economic development, they ended up decreasing spending, lowering taxes, and lessening state services. Many people formed groups and movements in protest of these choices by the "Redeemers," yet all of these movements failed and the "Bourbons" remained in control. Although the return of control to a powerful oligarchy was supposed to help the progress of the “New South”, their traditionalist beliefs and stingy economics only brought a return of a government similar to which ran the South in the pre-Civil War era. During this time African Americans also allowed to play a part in politics if the managed to get around the rules that the anti-equal right whites made to keep blacks out of any political office.

Black During reconstruction blacks were also able to participate in the political process. During the conventions held in 1867 and 1868, blacks helped write new laws and repeal black codes. Some blacks were also elected into political office. They held such positions as U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and lieutenant governors. (afroamhistory)

A major goal of the “New South” was to improve the region's industrial economy and make it mirror the North in a way. This would help the South increase its number of textile factories dramatically which brought a significant amount of money in. Since cotton planters had to transport their shipments to northern factories in the past, these new factories helped the southern farmers tremendously. These factories benefited the northern industries better because the southern mills did not dye the cotton there for they could not sell it so it had to be shipped to northern factories where it was died and then sold with most of the profit going to the North. Other industries that experienced an increase in production after Reconstruction were the tobacco-processing industry, the iron and steel industry that boomed out of Birmingham, Alabama, and the railroad companies that helped the South to double the amount of track from 1880-1890. Despite these industrial advancements, the South would never reach the impact industrialization had on the Northern economy. The railroad industry also had negative effects on the economy do to corruption when wealthy railroad companies would bribe Senators for the governments bid on laying the track. Also, in those areas of improvement, such as textiles and railroads, a large amount of the financial resources came from the North. The South's major economic source was still agriculture and white farmers made out very well due to tenant farming and share croppers. Tenant farmers, including debt peonage and the crop-lien system, made up seventy percent of the Southern planters by 1900. Many African Americans who had just been freed from slavery made up this percentage.

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