December 10, 2010
AP US History II Period 5
The Johnson administration was the most responsible for the failure of reconstruction after the American Civil War. During this time, Johnson’s administration did not do anything to help fix the tattered economy of the country, especially the South. Also, being a Democrat, he had a much different political agenda than the radical, and even moderate, republicans that dominated both houses of Congress. Finally, Johnson had several problems with Congress over amendments to the Constitution. Andrew Johnson simply could not live up to the expectations that everyone had for him following the assignation of the great emancipator.
The first problem with Johnson’s administration that eventually caused the failure of reconstruction was that he did not spend enough time to help the Southern economy. By 1865, the war is over, and most of the former confederacy lay in ruins. After Sherman’s march to the Sea, which turned Atlanta into a wasteland, and Grant’s many victories and raids most Southerners were worried about what would happen to good old Dixie Land. After all, their money making “super machine” King Cotton was demolished by the 13th amendment. Southerners were overjoyed when they learned that Lincoln had been replaced by a Southern Democrat, but they were not sure that they could trust Johnson to hold firm to his values. Eventually they learned that Johnson was willing to fight congress about reconstruction, but not the Southern economy. Wealthy plantation owners were no longer able to rake in the cash because they had to pay sharecroppers to pick their cotton. This, in turn, made the cotton more expensive for US or international buyers, which resulted in a sharp decrease in cash flow in the South. The lack of wealth was also due to the fact that most of the South’s population was freedmen and poor whites. Johnson vetoed the Freedman’s Bureau that would have educated the African Americans and given...