Following The War for Southern Independence the radical Republicans of the North took unjust measures over the conquered and impoverished social structure, economy and governments of the defeated southern states.
In fact, the whole idea of reconstruction was in fact deconstruction. Reconstruction was not to heal the nations wounds, or to economically revitalize the South (which it did not). Indeed, Reconstruction was economically destructive to the South. The purpose was to continue the economic plundering of the Southern states for as long as possible, and to establish a national Republican party political monopoly.
Congress Passes the Reconstruction Act
On March 2, 1867, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act and thus abolished local civil government in the southern states. It divided the southern states into five military districtseach commanded by a battalion of Federal troops to insure that southern whites were held in total subjugation to every radical Republican policy of the northern politicians.
During this reconstruction period many Northerners came southward to take unfair advantage of a destroyed economic and governmental structure in order to gain political and or financial advantage. These greedy opportunists were self-seeking in their quest to exploit the South. With no regard what so ever to the quiet, peaceful Southerners the Northerners attempted to implement their beliefs and ways of life upon the grieving Southerners.
Carpetbaggers were supposedly sleazy Northerners who had packed all their weordly goods into a carpetbag suitcase at the wars end and had come South to seek personal power and profit (2).
Although these carpetbaggers, social legislators including lawmakers, money lenders, financial speculators, educators and even ministers, expressed a concern for the social welfare and education of the newly freed black citizens, most of them supported the corrupt schemes of the Reconstruction governments. They did this by instilling in the black population feelings of resentment, revenge and even violence against their former white masters and enlisted them into secret clubs. Under the disguise of educating the newly made citizens of the black population they placed in them a false hope of political power and financial success. The Negros attempt to fulfill this dream as a free man generally resulted in deep disappointment and failure due to the carpetbaggers false and utopian promises and the Negroes idealistic expectations. The Southern Negroes, thinking that they were now free, became nothing more than expendable pawns in the hands of their new masters, the shrewd and self-seeking Northern carpetbaggers.
Many Northern Republicans, such as Thaddeus Steven’s, felt that the Yankee rule over the South was to:
hang the leaderscrush the southarm the Negroesconfiscate the land.
..Our generals have a sword in one hand and shackles in the other…The South must be punished under the rules of war, its land confiscated.
..these offending states were out of the Union and in the role of a belligerent nation to be dealt with by the laws of war and conquest (1).
This type of harsh attitude towards the Southern states who didnt even bother the North in the first place encouraged dishonest Northern carpetbaggers to make up ruthless schemes to defraud Southerners of their last remaining possessions. Many Southerners were forced to sell their farms, plantations, crops and businesses, through intimidation, to greedy Northern speculators at extreme financial losses. Carpetbaggers state legislators put high taxes upon the Southern people to help pay for both Union veteran pensions and war debts.
These same state legislatures offered no financial assistance to the Confederate veteran, while at the same time passing laws legalizing their misappropriation of public finds for their own selfish gain.
Following the war, what lasted from 1865 to 1866 was the greatest trial that the South had to bear, not excepting the terrible ordeal of war. No people had to undergo so dark a period with such complications. The cost to the South was great, but her citizens didnt lose hope, yet began to work with a will to revoke all improper and corrupt legislation, to restore economy in public expenditures, to reduce taxation, to do away with useless offices, to make schools efficient, and to build up waste places. History will certainly condemn the legislation that entailed such misery, such corruption, and such extravagant expansion of the money of an impoverished and crushed people. .