Many of you in your posts from last night agree that the more radical Reconstruction policies (i.e. enfranchisement, black officeholders, etc.) may have shocked the South into a social system that dramatically differed from their antebellum condition. Perhaps a more gradual Reconstruction policy--one that laid the foundation for racial equality but did not do so overnight--would have been an easier pill to swallow.
After all, white southerners were suddenly faced with an alternative reality, one where their black counterparts walked freely among them, despite the fact that just a few years earlier they had been bound into lifelong servitude. A revolution in policy, for better or for worse, will likely instill resistance, and it is not a surprise that many of the more radical Reconstruction policies fizzled out when the violent counteractions of the white South became a daily reality.
So, if we seem to agree that Reconstruction was a failure, we must face the difficult question--what was the alternative? How could we revisit Reconstruction as a political, economic, and social possibility? Would there be any way for the defeated South to accept terms that were handed down by the Union (largely Republican) government? Yes, this is an impossible question to answer in hindsight, but still....what if we could truly do it all over again?