Reconstruction: Success or Failure?
“Is This a Republican Form of Government? Is This Protecting Life, Liberty, or Property?”
Harper’s Weekly September 1, 1868
Overview: The twelve years after the Civil War proved to be a difficult time for America. Called Reconstruction by historians, this era saw an increase of freedom for former slaves. However, there was also great resistance to change. In 1877 attempts to reconstruct the South officially ended. How successful was the attempt to reconstruct the South after the Civil War? Directions: Read the background information and all provided documents. Write a five-paragraph argument essay that answers the essential question below. Be sure to create a strong claim/thesis (what you will prove) and use cited evidence from the documents to support your claim. (You may use the documents in any order you choose, they do NOT need to be used in the order presented-use source information provided). Follow the attached Argument Essay Rubric to guide your writing. Essential Question: To what extent was the Reconstruction of the South successful? To what extent was it a failure?
The process of reconstructing the Union began in 1863, two years before the Confederacy formally surrendered. After major Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Abraham Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction in which he outlined his Ten-Percent Plan. The plan stipulated that each secessionist state had to redraft its constitution and could reenter the Union only after 10 percent of its eligible voters pledged an oath of allegiance to the United States. Many Radical Republicans believed that Lincoln’s plan was too lenient: they wanted to punish the South for secession from the Union, transform southern society, and safeguard the rights of former slaves. As an alternative to the Ten-Percent Plan, Radical Republicans and their moderate Republican allies passed the Wade-Davis...