By: Kevin Bosco
After the end of the Civil War at Appomattox, our nations leaders attempted to reorganize state and local governments in the fallen Confederacy, reestablish normal relations between the North and South, and to instill a sense of national loyalty once again. What transpired was a unforgiving Congress whose Reconstruction Essay policies failed to aid the South in economic, political, and social progress. Instead, spiteful legislation which wasdesigned to seek revenge on the Confederacy limited the immediate possibility of a once again prosperous Union. The Radical Republicans serving in the United States Congress in the period after the Civil War had little concern for the economic well-being of the South. The policies of these lawmakers resulted in the reduced size of plantations in the South.Order now
Some plantation owners sold off their surplus land, but most preferred to try a plan of sharecropping, with tenants who were unable to pay for the land in cash. Blacks never got 40 acres and a mule talked about by Thaddeus Stevens and other radicals. The plantations owned by 70,000 chief rebels were never seized and redistributed. Instead, sharecropping and tenant farming developed and, as a result, blacks were still tied to the land. In addition, the Southern economy had not escaped from control by Northern financiers, as evidenced by the high interest rates. Because of these rates, the small farmers became subject to the creditors and lacked economic freedom.
Finally, many stubborn Southerners refused to accept tax programs which would provide funds for the social services needed to rebuild their economy after the war. As a result, too many white and black farmers still lived in poverty. During Reconstruction, the most glaring political consequence of the Radical Republican efforts was that a great majority of Southern whites sided with the Democratic party. Southerners saw the Republican party as the party of the negro and corrupt white man, who hated the South. Eventually, former Confederate states were limited to only the one-party system. Also, although the U.
S. Congress tried to give more political and voting freedom to blacks in the 15th Amendment, Democratic leaders limited their access by reducing the number of eligible black voters. Literacy and educational tests, poll taxes and other property requirements, and the grandfather clause were all devices to reduce the number of Blacks who met voting qualifications. The last device, the grandfather clause, barred the Blacks and still made it possible for undereducated poor whites to vote. The brief period of political progress for black voters in the South under the direction of the Radical Republicans, power probably increased tension between whites and the freed blacks. Interracial conflicts definitely halted the social progress of the newly freed Black population.
Also, the freedman found it difficult to secure and hold a job. Many actually found that their labor was exploited almost as severely as it had been during their time as slaves. Because of the Radical Republicans in Congress during the post-war decade who were so determined that Southerners should pay a heavy penalty for secession, reconstruction was largely unsuccessful. It is quite possible that President Lincolns more lenient reconstruction plan would have brought more economic, political, and social results for Southern society in the postwar years.
Word Count: 535 .