Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reconstruction: One step forward and two steps backward?

I like studying the period of Reconstruction because it was, to a large extent, a huge opportunity for Americans to restructure their government and society in the years after the Civil War.  However, by Reconstructions end, the South seems to have barely changed, and African Americans continue to find themselves living in a position of inferiority and danger. 

Why did the American government not accomplish more with this opportunity?  What do things like the black codes and the KKK reveal about how hard it is to change a society?

16 comments:

  1. I believe that the American Government did not accomplish more with the opportunity afforded them because they were unable to do so without a strong President. Once Lincoln was assassinated, the hope that reconstruction would bring salvation slowly dwindled. Without a strong presence running the happenings of Reconstruction, they were doomed from the start. Black codes and the KKK reveal that it is nearly impossible to get the public to conform to a certain mind set. In the South, the Southerners did not like the idea of Reconstruction which brought a great deal of change to the South. This rebellion, from the Southerners, against what the government wanted to do goes to show that even though they are the government and hold a great deal of power; that people often go against the hierarchy put in place. It demonstrates that people are resilient and will do what they please during a time of duress.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe the American government did not accomplish more with this opportunity because of how much the old morals had been embedded into the Southern mentality. Slavery was not just a practice, it was a social norm. Racism was not a single person's idea, but a religion. We've all heard the phrase, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." It was extremely difficult to erase something that was just as old as the nation itself. In addition to that, Southerners were stubborn to Reconstruction. They did not want to just rid themselves of their old ways. The KKK formed to make sure that the old Southern mentality would stay. Lastly, I think black people contributed to failure of the Reconstruction. These were people who had been slaves most of their lives, as well as their parents and grandparents. You can't easily take a man who's been whipped and chased by hounds and tell him he's all of a sudden free. It would take lots of time, for black and white people, to adjust to the freeing of these slaves

    ReplyDelete
  4. Even though many changes had been made during the reconstruction period, the South seemed to have barely changed and African Americans continued to find themselves living in a position of danger because the racists Southern people's sense of white supremacy could not be abolished right away. Therefore, even though many progress had been made during the reconstruction regarding what to do with the former enslaved population, which includes the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendment, African Americans continued to be in a great danger because Southerners figured a way to go about their ways to claim white Supremacy. KKK is one example of reaction to the reconstruction amendments. In addition, focus on civil right movements were slowly fading away to financial movements. When Lincoln died, Andrew Johnson, who was a racist former democrat became a president and he clashed with Congress for excessive use of vetos to prevent civil right movements from getting passed. Plus, Panic of 1873, which caused widespread unemployment and hardship in finance shifted the focus of reconstruction to Finance.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think the American Government did not accomplish more with this opportunity because not everyone was on the same page. Some whites were able to deal with the fact that laws were changing and blacks were gaining more rights and even agreed that the blacks should have rights. Others believed that blacks should have no rights and need to know their place. As a cause hate crimes became popular within the south. Hate crimes against African Americans, Jew's and gay people were demonstrated through the KKK. A huge reason behind the fail of Reconstruction was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had a plan in his mind of what steps to take to reconstruct the country that were much different than Johnson, but as a result he could not share them. Black Codes reveal the immense struggle to change the mindset of a country or half of a country, the south.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The American government did not accomplish more with this opportunity because they did not care. They did not care that the black people were not being treated right and that nothing had changed for the rights of black people besides the ending of slavery. The American government wasn't concerned with how the blacks were being treated. They could have accomplished more with this opportunity. The American government could have made it so that blacks had more rights and were treated more equally when they had this opportunity. The KKK reveals that it is very hard to change a society. I think this because the KKK was a group that did not want the blacks to have equal rights and their powerful views on this issue made it hard for a society to change.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is surprising this so called "opportunity" did not bring out another war. Apparently, the reconstruction aims to help the South and give all races better living conditions. However, this act did not help much but worked in the opposite way. The general public needed time to heal after the Civil War. The reconstruction seems like a remedy, but actually stoke the South again by giving aways rights to the blacks. This rapid changes did not do any good for the people, but ignited the Southerner's rage. KKK was one of the most significant demonstration of people's conservative mind. Overall, the reconstruction and other rapid changes did not really help. The real and only medicine would only be time.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Much more could have been achieved during the Reconstruction period. The government didn't accomplish a lot because of several reasons. Firstly, it was hard to move forward without a strong president, and the government was more concerned with their political issues. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were added, which abolished slavery and defined citizenship, but many people did not follow these rules. In the South, segregation was still existent. The black codes and the KKK are some examples of the Southerner's resistance, and show that changing the mindset of people is no easy task, especially when slavery had been accepted for such a long time. The majority of the Southerner's were raised with the mindset that there was nothing wrong with slavery, discrimination, and segregation. They wanted to preserve the mentality of their ancestors.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I believe that the American government was not able to accomplish more with this opportunity because their was no central power. Everyone had there own rules and there was no one to say what was right from wrong except anti-black white people who make decisions based on what is best for white people. No rules/laws were really in play for anyone. Ever since Lincoln was assassinated, everyone's hopes of a controlling government were basically gone. Black codes and the KKK reveal that once these groups are given the power to treat other people not like human beings, they will not stop until they are put down by a strong force. Once a large enough group of people believe in one thing and they are the majority in an area, more and more people join the majority because they are scared and do what is best for their families.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Since the Reconstruction period, the KKK and black codes emerged, and the south has barely changed. Why? Because the movement lacked unified support, good effort, and reinforcement. Many blacks were still publicly bullied and no action was taken to stop it. Police officers mocked and didn't listen to black people. Schools did not enforce anti bullying policies, or teach children to care for everyone, including black people. Parents made passive aggressive comments about blacks around their children, and their children picked it up. The government made minimal effort to spread the equality message. It was very rare for a person to stand up for blacks, but when the occasional person did, they did not have much support behind them. The hatred for blacks remained in society, like a whole other race; a race of racists. And like a race, the racism is slowly dying out (emphasis on slowly) because of the mixing of ignorant people with open-minded, educated people. It will be a very long time until racism is gone from this world.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The reason why the American government didn't achieve more with this opportunity because as many bills as you pass and ideals you acknowledge are the majority, there will always be a minority. In this country we have laws that protect minorities (racially and ideally) even if they are so extreme and radical. The reason why they had organizations like the KKK back then is the same reason why we have them now; everyone in this country has a voice. During this time the blacks voice was not powerful and always drowned out by the white peoples who, in large groups, were able to commit atrocities as people who shared their racist views were present at every level of society.

    ReplyDelete
  12. ou can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink. a rule without force to back it up is just words on paper and in the south the police and supposed protecters, were out running rampant in hoods seeking to spite fear into ideal hard working black families.reconstruction was ineffective because thats what the south wanted and to some degree the north. the south wanted people to think that a union could need operate and the north always wanted to maintain its political power. for something to work both sides have to put in a effort.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The one, big main reason why the American Government could not accomplish reconstruction was because they were really still dealing with two separate countries forced together to share the same laws. Of course the South wanted to keep their slavery and were devastated when they lost the Civil War so with out a doubt organizations such as the KKK evolved. A lot of people in the South did not agree with "northern laws" because one of the things that Lincoln told the south states was that they only had to have like 20% of people vote yes they want to rejoin the union and everything would be okay again. So really the reason why i believe reconstruction was unsuccessful was because they union and confederacy were really two separate countries with two separate views of was of life which is what led. Overall not much as changed in society today in the fact that even though we don't have slavery anymore, there are still a lot of racist people in the world and i believe that the idea of a racist or "perfect" world is not possible because one race is always going to think they are better than all the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think the American government failed in reconstruction because even though on paper we were one country we were pretty much still divided. After the civil war many Southerners still wanted slavery to be in effect. They also felt like the African Americans were inferior to them and shouldnt have voting rights or citizenship. Groups such as the KKK were formed to terrorize these African Americans who tried to exercise these rights. Also many KKK members would lynch and brutally beat them for no reason at all. Black codes added to this problem by segregation on public facilities such as bathrooms, water fountains, bus seats, etc. These codes lasted all the way till the pivotal civil rights period in the 1960's.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The government definitely failed reconstruction because of the issues still unsettled. The country was still divided and the fight over slavery hasn't made much progress. There was probably more deaths because of racism then during slavery. The north had kept to their word and african american's were then free. But in the south slaves almost were still not free because they had more rules and regulations than the north. They also had to watch their back at all times because they never know when they could be a victim of a KKK or just a prejudice attack. Black code put even more regulations on black people because it kept everything segregated and the black's portion of the segregation was significantly worse.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The KKK proved that there are some people who are against progressions. This shows to prove that no matter how hard a person tries, there would be people who are against progress for the better and believe in old traditional ways. The KKK believed that blacks should not be freed slaves because their skin color was lesser than theirs so that made them inferior; members of the kkk were not educated enough to know that everybody is of equal race

    ReplyDelete