Reconstruction In South Carolina Post Civil War

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Success, it is a word that is so frequently used, yet has a large number of slanted definitions. In the Cambridge Advanced Learners dictionary, it is defined as the completing of preferred outcomes. In the forthcoming years following the American Civil War, the plan of Reconstruction was formed with the original aim of literally reconstructing the Union back into one. If one looks at it from that standpoint, then it was a resounding success. However, underneath the simple re-uniting of the two regions, there exists a deeper layer involving truly resurrecting the United States as one entity both nominally and intrinsically in terms of successfully reforming the political, social, and economic divides that had previously existed. Regarding this more detailed viewing, it becomes clear that the Reconstruction era did not succeed in achieving the two main goals it had originally set out to reach. Much of the economic, political, and social structure of the South had been around for long enough that they were intertwined and built upon each other .

This was a major obstacle Reconstruction faced as it struggle to reform a number of multi-faceted issues and hone a new Southern society based on a completely different set of economic, social, and political ideals. Despite noble, initial efforts to achieve the ideals of post-war Reconstruction, the Reconstruction era is ultimately marked by its failure to go beyond superficialities due to the impossibility of attaining true equality for the black man at the given time and the government's inability to successfully re-unite the people by creating a mutually beneficial society for everybody before re-uniting the country.

Reconstruction in South Carolina post Civil War

Post Civil war was the period in which reconstruction was very on its peak. The centre of reconstruction was South and I would like to live in that part. The reason is that there the period of Reconstruction addressed the comeback of the south states that had seceded, the rank of ex-Confederate managers, and the integration of the African-American Freedmen into the lawful, political, financial and communal system.

Southern managers agreed that slavery and the Slave Power had to be lastingly decimated, and all types of Confederate nationalism had to be suppressed. Moderates said this could be effortlessly carried out as shortly as Confederate detachments submitted and the south states repealed secession and approved the 13th Amendment all of which occurred by September 1865. However the Radical Republicans were much more skeptical of south aims and claimed far more tough government action. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson were the managers of the moderate Republicans; Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner directed the Radical Republicans. Radicals judged the moderate principles to be a malfunction, particularly Johnson's disagreement to municipal privileges for the Freedmen.

The commitment topic appeared in the argument over the Wade-Davis Act of 1864, which Lincoln turned down to signal into law. Wade-Davis needed voters to take the "Ironclad Oath," pledging that in the past they not ever had sustained the Confederacy or been one of its soldiers. Lincoln disregarded the past and inquired voters to pledge that in the future they would support the Union.

Suffrage was a centered issue. On the one hand was the inquiry of permitting some or all ex-Confederates to vote. The moderates liked effectively all of them to ballot, but the Radicals liked limits on ex-Confederate leaders. Thaddeus Stevens suggested, ineffectively, that ex-Confederates misplace the ballot for five years. No one knew how numerous Confederate managers for the time being lost the ballot but one approximate was 10,000 to 15,000.

Second was the topic of if blacks should vote. Lincoln suggested giving the ballot to "the very smart, and particularly those who have battled gallantly in our ranks" , while Governor Johnson said, "The better class of them will proceed to work and maintain themselves, and that class should to be permitted to ballot, on the ground that a trusted negro is more worthy than a disloyal white man". As President Johnson composed the administrator of Mississippi suggesting, "If you could continue the discretionary franchise to all individuals of hue who can read the Constitution in English and compose their titles, and to all individuals of hue who own genuine land parcel treasured at not less than two century and fifty dollars, and yield levies thereon, you would absolutely disarm the adversary [Radicals in Congress], and set an demonstration the other states will follow ."

Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, foremost of the Radical Republicans, was primarily uncertain to enfranchise the mostly illiterate ex-slave population. However Sumner determined it was essential for blacks to ballot for three reasons:

' for their own protection;

' for the defence of white Unionists (i.e. "scalawags");

' for the calm of the country.

The Radicals said the only way to get know-how was to get the ballot first, and they passed regulations permitting all male freedmen to vote. In 1867, very dark men cast a vote for the first time and, over the course of Reconstruction, more than 1,500 African Americans held public office. (The inquiry of women's suffrage was argued, but rejected.)

Though previous Confederates the South's pre-Civil War political managers renounced secession and provided up slavery, they were enraged in 1867 when their before all-white state authorities were ousted by government infantry forces, and restored by lawmakers voted into agency for the first time by very dark and white voters.

"No more than 137 officeholders dwelled out-of-doors the South before the Civil War," Eric Foner composed in the introduction to Freedom's Lawmakers, a biographical book or directions, with numerous photos, of more than 1500 very dark officeholders throughout Reconstruction.

Of the less than 10 per hundred of more than 1,500 very dark officeholders recorded in the book or directions who dwelled out-of-doors the South before the Civil War, Foner composed, "Most were persons born in the North (where about 220,000 free blacks dwelled in 1860), but their figures furthermore encompassed free Southerners whose families shifted to the North, free blacks and a couple of privileged slaves dispatched North for learning, some immigrants from overseas, and fugitives from bondage ."

Instead they emphasized that poor remedy of Freedmen was a poorer scandal and a serious corruption of America's republican ideals. They contended that the genuine tragedy of Reconstruction was not that it unsuccessful as the majority blacks was incapable of ruling, but that it failed because the municipal privileges and equalities conceded throughout this time span were but a transient, provisional development. These privileges were hovering in the South from the 1880s through 1964, but were refurbished by the Civil Rights Movement that is occasionally mentioned to as the "Second Reconstruction."

Although Dred Scott did scare numerous abolitionists, the most significant supplier to the increasing rift between the North and the South was the Fugitive Slave law. This regulation empowered every individual to proceed as a slave catcher, forbid any individual from assisting a supposed slave, and permitted slave proprietors to only state ownership of the slave in inquiry in alignment to take him into custody. While initially a political proceeds to appease the south, the outcome was a broadening rift. The South was enraged by a prevalent denial of Southerners to execute the regulation, another to the north conspiracy to disenfranchise the south. The North was enraged because they were being compelled to proceed contrary to their values, contrary to their deepest convictions, and drive fugitive slaves, or even freeborn blacks, back to the south. The southerners were compelled to select between abiding by the regulation, and assisting a young individual human being. It put a human face on slavery for southerners, and polarized the two regions. The Fugitive Slave regulation was the most important component in assisting to the rift between the North and the South, and, finally, the Civil War.

One of the most important goals that Reconstruction ultimately failed to achieve was the complete revolution of the social, political, and economic roles of the black man in the South. On the social aspect, blacks were supposed to be gaining official equality in society. By issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, the general expectation was that the hierarchical society based on slavery that had developed in the South would be overturned following the war and Reconstruction would work to successfully integrate the newly-freed blacks into society. However, since the blacks were now free, many whites, including both Southerners and Southerners, did not see what else the blacks would want. To most, the fact the blacks were free was more than enough, and there was no need to change the general attitude towards blacks. The ?general assumption, in the South, [was] that the effects of the immortal Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln go no further than the emancipation of the Negroes then in slavery, and that it is only constructively even to have abolished slavery.

Reconstruction sought to change the social role of blacks, but followed up the move of freeing all slaves with little else that truly made the attaining of equality for blacks a success. On the political stage, blacks being given the right to vote were a monumental step towards reform. A black person counted as a whole 5/5th of a person and could now vote for their own representatives. However, behind the guise of giving black people the right to vote was an impure motive.

What had started out as an attempt to gain political equality for blacks turned into an attempt to further the political advancement of the Republican Party's personal fortune. Black people were also being voted into public office directly following the war and it appeared they were gaining political power, but this success was short lived. A few years after the end of fighting the Georgia legislature voted to expel all its Negro members (A People's History of the U.S., Zinn 200). Reconstruction started out successful with the voting in of blacks, but it clearly took a major step backwards as the expelling of black members portrays its failure to successfully change the politics of the South.

Eventually, the South would find a way to employ poll taxes and literacy tests to strike blacks from the registers (Out of Our Past, Degler 252) completely and effectively end the ephemeral period in which blacks held some political sway. In order to have truly succeeded in enacting change on a grand scale, there would have had to have been a gradual change of people's predisposition of being racist prior to that. As was the case in the social rights, the economic rights that blacks were supposedly getting were in name only. The fact was they still held little economic power in a day when power was determined by land. ?Some land was expropriated on grounds the taxes were delinquent. But only a few blacks could afford to buy this. Out of 16,000 acres up for sale in March of 1863, freedmen who pooled their money were able to buy 2,000 acres, the rest being bought by southern investors and speculators. Blacks now free and told that they were equal, tried to gain also gain an economic equality by buying land, but the simple fact was that they could not. Black Reconstruction, a major aspect of the Reconstruction era, was meant to help better the black man's situation, yet there was very little done to help further economic balance between blacks and whites. The Southern land that was by right the property of the slave offered too much opportunity for Southern white investors to pass up for their own benefit.

In the end, all the efforts that were put into Black Reconstruction were in vain, for the Negro remained dependent on privileged whites for work, for the necessities of life, his vote could be bough or taken away by threat of force. The tragedy of Reconstruction is that it failed it was imperative in those first years after Appomattox that a way be found whereby the nation and the Negro might confidently look forward to the former slave's full and equal participation in American life. But the unique opportunity of those first years was squandered. For the sake of saying the outlook for the future of blacks was being bettered, the conductors of Reconstruction squandered a great opportunity to truly incorporate racial equality into America through their adopting of a superficial attitude towards helping the black man.

In order to successfully resurrect the nation as one, the first step would have been to unify the people as a whole, and this is an aspect that Reconstruction failed dreadfully in. Having existed for so many years living in such distinctly different societies, it was fairly clear that in order for Americans to stand together as one there would need to be a compromise that would find a way to balance the interest of both sides.

However, Reconstruction did perhaps just the opposite through a lack understanding of the true situation, a shortage of firm governmental action, and people such as carpetbaggers and scalawags succumbing to greed over patriotism. As stated in a report in 1872, ?the indolent excuse for our failure to understand the condition of the South is that nobody can very accurately comprehend it that has not been there to see for him (The State of the South (1872), The Nation). Just by that, there is already a problem, as the government was attempting to go through the process of Reconstruction a remote approach and then using that as an excuse for failing to understand the situation. At times, much of what the government did in meaning to help the South seemed to be impractical .

The 'Freedmen's Bureau has spent $13,000,000 upon Southern sufferers of both colors, but put this number in context and compare it to the fact that the increased debt since the war in North Carolina has been $14,000,000 and in 1871, $34,000,000' (State). All the money that was being spent was still less than the economic damage taken by North Carolina, just one state out of the entire former Confederacy. Because of adopting this method of going about the matter, ?reconstruction seemed to be morally a more disastrous process than rebellion (State of the South). The 'total loss of the rebellious States by the war was $5,262,303,554' (State). Economically, people in the South were left with the sole option of finding some way to fend for them as the Reconstruction process was doing little. In Mississippi, a large planter testified that it took all his cotton for the year 1871 to pay his taxes (State). These were taxes that were 'four times that upon the original property before the war' (State). By getting rid of slavery, the government had gotten rid of the one system that Southerners had been accustomed to laboring by .

To Southerners, their economic success was very much connected to what they were accustomed to on the social level. The end of slavery meant that Southerners had to find a new source of labor; one they felt was 'an experiment which they cannot afford to make while their wants is urgent' (Schurz). This caused some resentment, as it seemed more and more like Southerners were using Reconstruction as an experiment upon the south. Many southerners felt inclined to be indignant. The situation that Reconstruction was bringing about was seemingly impossible. It was trying to end slavery and achieve equality for blacks, which are something that completely revolutionizes the social structure of the south, yet try and reform the economic aspect of the region, which was something so dependent upon the social structure that Reconstruction had struck down. Also coming to light during the era was the seemingly unwillingness of the government to truly impose restriction upon the Confederacy.

As expected, since the new concept of free labor was known to the southern people only by its destructive results, these people must be expected to throw obstacles in its way (Schurz). However, Congress reacted passively to resistance by Southerners when simply imposing legislation could have quelled the dissenting of the South. Congress gave Southerners the hope they could regulate manners according to their own notions by failing to firmly and unequivocally announce its policy not to give up the control of the free-labor reform until it was finally accomplished (Schurz). Instead of working to achieve its goals, this unwillingness to be firm with the South proved detrimental to the success of Reconstruction.

The hope given to Southerners that the government would not be firm and allow them to reform their own way nurtured and developed as Congress continued to delay in bringing down a firm fist. Lastly, the Reconstruction process was also considerably hindered by people seeking to make their own profit off of the era. Embezzlement and outright thievery were not uncommon.

With Reconstruction being such a major project, it was imperative that people on all levels support it. However, it is not in human nature to pass up an opportunity for personal gain, and the Reconstruction era was no different. Because of this, it became even harder for the resurrection of the South to succeed. As the debt continually mounted, and carpetbaggers continually swindled the south, the situation came to be that only the rich could ride it out . As such, the gap between the rich and the poor grew wider and wider, something that is never desired to happen when reconstructing after a major war. Faced with so many obstacles, it is unsurprising that Reconstruction is ultimately considered a failure in achieving the goal of re-uniting America as a whole in name and in sprit.

As the Process of Reconstruction continued on until its commonly accepted end date in 1877, it never succeeded in its main goals of establishing an equal role in society for blacks and re-uniting the character of the American people back into one. Although initial efforts were made to try and incorporate blacks equally into society, the fight for black equality seemed to stop at freeing the slaves. From that point on, the stance that was taken was a bit more lackadaisical in achieving full equality. To many, the level of equality that was reached had gone far enough and was as far as it was going to go. In such a manner, Reconstruction failed in meeting the window of opportunity presented that was ideal for pushing equality as far as possible had America chosen to pursue that path. The second account on which Reconstruction is considered a failure was how it failed to find a middle ground between the Southerners and Southerners.


Working with these kinds of situations, it can simply be said that for all the time it lasted, the money it took, and the effort it spent, Reconstruction marks one of the biggest failures in American history. Problems that were fought over during the Civil War and issues that should have been solved in the era following the fight are problems that still exist today. The conditions of the post-war South continued to exist for up to another century until t he Civil Rights Movements of the 1960's, and the topic of racism is still highly prevalent to today's society. Even after nearly 150 years, the issues of the civil war and the failure of Reconstruction to fully address them directly after the war have continued on through history and are still issues in the world today.