Dbq Reconstruction

1156 Words5 Pages
The word reconstruction means re-unification and rebuilding the utter destruction of the South in the Civil War. Building what was lost and what was damaged. It was a period where the South was building again to start over and become stronger than before. Reconstruction was a success in that it restored the United States as a unified nation, by 1877, all of the former Confederate states had drafted new constitutions, acknowledged the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, and pledged their loyalty to the U.S. government. Reconstruction also finally settled the states’ rights vs. federalism debate that had been an issue since the 1790s. However, Reconstruction failed by most other measures. Radical Republican legislation ultimately…show more content…
The Radical Republicans saw serious flaws in Civil War era southern society and were adamant that the South needed full social rehabilitation to resemble the North. Many Republican Congressmen also aimed to improve education and labor conditions to benefit all of the oppressed classes in southern society, black and white. To quicken this transformation of the South, Congress passed a series of progressive legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the First and Second Reconstruction Acts, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In the end, Radical Republicans in the House impeached President Andrew Johnson in 1868 because he repeatedly blocked their attempt to pass radical legislation. For example, Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Freedmen’s Bureau charter, and the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, all of which were progressive, “radical” bills. Had Lincoln remained alive, he might have been in the same position himself. He wanted Reconstruction to end quickly and did not necessarily favor progressive legislation. Indeed, Lincoln had made it clear during the Civil War that he was fighting to restore the Union, not to emancipate slaves. It is likely that Lincoln thus…show more content…
All three thus played a role in ending Reconstruction. In the 1860s, executives of the Union Pacific Railroad created a dummy construction company called Crédit Mobilier and then hired themselves out as contractors at high rates to earn large profits. The executives bribed dozens of Congressmen and cabinet members in Ulysses S. Grant’s administration, including Grant’s vice president, to allow the scam to work. The scheme was eventually exposed, and many politicians were forced to resign. Along with other scandals, such as the Fisk-Gould gold scandal and the Whiskey Ring, Crédit Mobilier distracted northern voters’ attention away from southern Reconstruction and toward corruption and graft problems in the North. When the Depression of 1873 struck, northern voters became even less interested in pursuing Reconstruction efforts. Unemployment climbed to 15 percent, and hard currency became scarce. With pressing economic problems, northerners did not have time to worry about helping former slaves, punishing the Ku Klux Klan, or readmitting southern states into the Union. Moreover, the Republican Party’s adherence to unpopular, strict monetary policies in response to the depression such as the Resumption Act of 1875. It opened the door for the Democratic Party to make large political gains, accelerating the end
Open Document