On April 11, 1865, in his last speech before his assassination, Lincoln express his opinion that some “very intelligent” Black men or Black men who had joined the Union army deserved the right to vote. After attempting to remove Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, in violation of the new Tenure of Office Act, Johnson had been impeached by the House of Representatives in 1868. By contrast, the Civil War and Reconstruction brought opportunities for progress and growth. According to historian Eugene Genovese, over 600,000 formerly enslaved persons stayed with their masters. The rebuilding of the South after the Civil War is called the Reconstruction. To be accepted back into the Union, the former Confederate states were required to abolish the practice of slavery, renounce their secession, and compensate the federal government for its Civil War expenses. The outcome of the 1876 presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, was decided by disputed vote counts from those three states. https://www.thoughtco.com/reconstruction-definition-1773394 (accessed January 22, 2021). What happened next in the South remains largely unknown to most Americans. Longley, Robert. Afterwards, the country entered what modern historians call Reconstruction. Longley, Robert. The former slaves also demanded economic independence. Reconstruction refers to the period immediately after the Civil War from 1865 to 1877 when several United States administrations sought to reconstruct society in the former Confederate states in particular by establishing and protecting the legal rights of the newly freed black population. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Outrage over these laws in Congress led to the replacement of Johnson’s so-called Presidential Reconstruction approach with that of the more radical wing of the Republican Party. So-called “Black supremacy” never existed, but the advent of African Americans in positions of political power marked a dramatic break with the country’s traditions and aroused bitter hostility from Reconstruction’s opponents. 1870: Senator Hiram Revels (left) of Mississippi with some of the first Black members of congress, (from left) Benjamin Turner, Robert De Large, Josiah Walls, Jefferson Long, Joseph Rainey and Robert Brown Elliot. She attempts to include the frontier lands … Violence, mass lynchings, and lawlessness enabled white Southerners to create a regime of white supremacy and Black disenfranchisement alongside a new economic order that continued to exploit Black labor. As a Union victory became more of certainty, America’s struggle with Reconstruction began before the end of the Civil War. In 1870, Joseph Rainey of South Carolina was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first popularly elected Black member of Congress. Why? The year after the war’s end, a U.S. Congress still operating without representation from most Confederate states passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, declaring Black Americans full citizens entitled to equal civil rights. Arguably the most important addition to the Constitution other than the Bill of Rights, the amendment constituted a profound change in federal-state relations. Radical Reconstruction attempted to give African Americans full equality. Meanwhile, the social and economic transformation of the South proceeded apace. https://www.britannica.com/event/Reconstruction-United-States-history, Texas State Historical Association - The Handbook of Texas Online - Reconstruction, PBS LearningMedia - Michael Williams: Reconstruction, Official Site of Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States, African American Registry - Biography of Ed Wilson, Reconstruction - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Reconstruction - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up), United States presidential election of 1868. A comprehensive and compelling history of the United States immediately following the Civil War. The year after the war’s end, a U.S. Congress still operating without representation from most Confederate states passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, declaring Black Americans full citizens entitled to equal civil rights. Civil Rights Bill of 1866 and Freedmen’s Bureau. (2021, January 11). Enacted during 1867 and 1868, the Radical Republican-sponsored Reconstruction Acts specified the conditions under which the formerly seceded Southern states of the Confederacy would be readmitted to the Union after the Civil War. Reconstruction witnessed far-reaching changes in America’s political life. Summary: Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents the history of the years after the American Civil War. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Du Bois, first published in 1935. Reconstruction, in U.S. history, the period (1865–77) that followed the American Civil War and during which attempts were made to redress the inequities of slavery and its political, social, and economic legacy and to solve the problems arising from the readmission to the Union of the 11 states that had seceded at or before the outbreak of war. Fleming, Walter L. “Documentary History of Reconstruction: Political, Military, Social, Religious, Educational, and Industrial.” Palala Press (April 22, 2016), ISBN-10: 1354267508. The Reconstruction lasted from 1865 to 1877. First up: African Americans grapple with the terms and implications of Reconstruction and their hard-won freedom; and the 1876 presidential electiondeals Reconstruction a blow as the forces of white supremacy ascend. 15 of January 1865, which set aside a large swath of land along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia for the exclusive settlement of Black families, and by the Freedmen’s Bureau Act of March, which authorized the bureau to rent or sell land in its possession to former slaves. Taking office in April 1865, following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, President Andrew Johnson ushered in a two-year-long period known as Presidential Reconstruction. Under the plan, if one-tenth of a Confederate state’s prewar voters signed an oath of loyalty to the Union, they be would be allowed to form a new state government with the same constitutional rights and powers they had enjoyed before secession. In the 1866 mid-term congressional elections, Northern voters overwhelmingly rejected President Johnson’s Reconstruction policies, giving Radical Republicans nearly total control of Congress. Once these conditions were met, however, the newly restored Southern states were allowed to manage their governments and legislative affairs. Though most Southern White people hated the “regimes” and being overseen by Union troops, the Radical Reconstruction policies resulted in all of the Southern states being readmitted to the Union by the end of 1870. Although the Senate, by a single vote, failed to remove him from office, Johnson’s power to obstruct the course of Reconstruction was gone. Many former Confederate states took advantage of this omission by instituting poll taxes, literacy tests, and “grandfather clauses” clearly intended to prevent Black persons from voting. Reconstruction. Neither status offered much hope for economic mobility. In early 1866, Congress refused to recognize or seat representatives and senators who had been elected from the former Confederate states of the South and passed the Freedmen’s Bureau and Civil Rights Bills. Andrew Johnson attempted to return the Southern states to essentially the condition they were in before the American Civil War, Republicans in Congress passed laws and amendments that affirmed the “equality of all men before the law” and prohibited racial discrimination, that made African Americans full U.S. citizens, and that forbade laws to prevent African Americans from voting. While they now worked for minimal wages or as sharecroppers, they had little hope of achieving the same economic mobility enjoyed by White citizens. Rather than sticking to the traditional narrative of North and South, Richardson includes the West. Enacted during 1865 and 1866, the Black Codes were laws intended to restrict the freedom of Black Americans in the South and ensure their continued availability as a cheap labor force even after the abolishment of slavery during the Civil War. White supremacist organizations that committed terrorist acts, such as the Ku Klux Klan, targeted local Republican leaders for beatings or assassination. Reconstruction, in U.S. history, the period (1865–77) that followed the American Civil War and during which attempts were made to redress the inequities of slavery and its political, social, and economic legacy and to solve the problems arising from the readmission to the Union of the 11 states that had seceded at or before the outbreak of war. The twelve years that composed the post-war Reconstruction era (1865-77) witnessed a seismic shift in the meaning and makeup of our democracy. By implementing racially motivated voter disenfranchisement measures such as poll taxes and literacy tests, Whites in the South succeeded in undermining the very purpose of Reconstruction. To Blacks, freedom meant independence from white control. The deadly 1866 New Orleans and Memphis Race Riots had convinced Congress that Reconstruction policies needed to be enforced. For African Americans living in the former Confederacy, Reconstruction was what historian W. E. B. AP.USH: KC‑5.3.II.D (KC), NAT (Theme), Unit 5: Learning Objective L. Google Classroom Facebook Twitter. Presidential Reconstruction, from 1865 to 1867, required little of the former Confederate states and leaders. The restrictive nature and ruthless enforcement of the Black Codes drew the outrage and resistance of Black Americans and seriously reduced Northern support for President Johnson and the Republican Party. But in the south, those were the very men who had set out to destroy the Union. The result was a costly and bloody civil war. In the South, Reconstruction brought a massive, often painful, social, and political transition. Influential Radical Republicans such as Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Senator Charles Sumner from Massachusetts demanded that the new governments of the Southern states be based on racial equality and the granting of universal voting rights for all male residents regardless of race. Meanwhile, people excluded from government had … Ratified on July 9, 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to all persons “born or naturalized in the United States,” including formerly enslaved persons. Passed during the Civil War, economic stimulus legislation such as the Homestead Act and the Pacific Railway Act opened the Western territories to waves of settlers. The book is his companion to the new two-part PBS series he hosts, "Reconstruction: America After The Civil War," which airs April 9 and 16. In a recent poll of high school graduates, only 20 percent had even heard of Reconstruction, in part because history classes about this period invariably end with the […] Composed of those who had been free before the Civil War plus slave ministers, artisans, and Civil War veterans, the Black political leadership pressed for the elimination of the racial caste system and the economic uplifting of the former slaves. WHAT IT’S ABOUT Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” — which began last week — ends Tuesday, with the first hour covering the period 1877-1896, and the rise of … Some Republicans were already convinced that equal rights for the former slaves had to accompany the South’s readmission to the Union. The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts and outlined how new governments, based on manhood suffrage without regard to race, were to be established. HipHughes gives you a hug and then a big fat slug as he guides you through U.S. Reconstruction. By 1870 all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and nearly all were controlled by the Republican Party. This political uprising ushered in the period of Congressional or Radical Reconstruction. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were unenforced but remained on the books, forming the basis of the mid-20th-century civil rights movement. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. To be allowed to reenter the Union, the former Confederate states were required to agree to abolish slavery, but no federal law had been enacted to prevent those states from simply reinstituting the practice through their new constitutions. During the 1870s, the Radical Republicans began to back away from their expansive definition of the power of the federal government. Serving an expanded citizenry, Reconstruction governments established the South’s first state-funded public school systems, sought to strengthen the bargaining power of plantation labourers, made taxation more equitable, and outlawed racial discrimination in public transportation and accommodations. Johnson’s plan for restoring the splintered Union pardoned all Southern White persons except Confederate leaders and wealthy plantation owners and restored all of their constitutional rights and property except enslaved persons. Republican Ulysses S. Grant was elected president that fall (see United States presidential election of 1868). As Black activists and scholar W.E.B. … Reconstruction in the South meant a massive social and political upheaval and a devastated economy. The Reconstruction Era (1865–1877). Congress decided to begin Reconstruction anew. Du Bois once described as their “brief moment in the sun.” But support for the social, economic, and political gains they achieved didn’t last long. All Black persons living in the states that enacted Black Code laws were required to sign yearly labor contracts. The Second Reconstruction Act, enacted on March 23, 1867, supplemented the First Reconstruction Act by assigning Union troops to oversee voter registration and voting in the Southern states. "The Reconstruction Era (1865–1877)." There was controversy, however, on how to go about rebuilding the nation. In December 1863, less than a year after he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Pres. In 1865 and 1866, during the administration of President Andrew Johnson, the Southern states enacted restrictive and discriminatory Black Codes—laws intended to control the behavior and labor of Black Americans. By 10 a.m., well-dressed citizens filled the paths and avenues of the burial ground while women and children placed freshly cut buds and garl… The backlash succeeded, and the promises of Reconstruction were mostly unfulfilled. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Depiction of the secret societies that terrorized African Americans during Reconstruction. ThoughtCo, Jan. 11, 2021, thoughtco.com/reconstruction-definition-1773394. African American parade in honour of adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment. Believing the federal government should take an active role in creating a multiracial society in the postwar South, the Radical Republicans saw the bill as a logical next step in Reconstruction. At the national level, new laws and constitutional amendments permanently altered the federal system and the definition of American citizenship. It was also the process used to readmit all the Confederate states back into the Union. Reconstruction: America After the Civil War: Watch full length episodes & video clips. For decades, most Southern Black people were forced to remain propertyless and mired in poverty. Enacted in March 1867, the First Reconstruction Act, also known as the Military Reconstruction Act, divided the former Confederate states into five Military Districts, each governed by a Union general. Reconstruction helped set the pattern for future race relations and defined the federal government's role in promoting racial equality. Now lacking land, most formerly enslaved persons were forced to return to working on the same plantations where they had toiled for generations. 1. Arising around 1854, before the Civil War, the Radical Republicans were a faction within the Republican Party who demanded the immediate, complete and permanent eradication of slavery. An economic depression during which much of the South fell into poverty led to the Democratic Party winning the House of Representatives again, the first time since the Civil War. Within a decade after the Civil War, Congress began to abandon the promise of assistance to millions of formerly enslaved Black people. Please select which sections you would like to print: While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. In 1874, Black members of Congress, led by South Carolina Representative Robert Brown Elliot, were instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, outlawing discrimination based on race in hotels, theaters, and railway cars. As the title suggests, West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War deals with Reconstruction. Reconstruction After the Civil War . 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