Chapter 15:

Reconstruction and the New South


1)The Problems of Peacemaking

a)The Aftermath of the War and Emancipation

i)Southern towns and fields ruined, many whites stripped of slaves and capital, currency worthless, little property. Thousands of soldiers (>20% of adult white male pop) had died, ppl wanted to preserve what was left

ii)Many emancipated slaves wandered looking for family, work. Almost none owned land or possessions

b)Competing Notions of Freedom

i)Freedom to blacks meant end to slavery, injustice, humiliation. Rights and protections of free men also desired

ii)AAs differed over how to achieve freedom: some wanted economic redistribution including land, others wanted legal equality and opportunity. All wanted independence from white control

iii)Whites wanted life w/o interference of North or federal govt. Thirteenth Amendment (Dec 1865) had abolished slavery, but many planters wanted blacks to be tied to plantations

iv)March 1865 Congress created Freedmen’s Bureau to distribute food, create schools, & help poor whites. Only a temporary solution, only operated for 1 yr

c)Issues of Reconstruction

i)Political issue when S states rejoined Union b/c Democrats would be reunited, threatened Repub nationalistic legislation for railroads, tariffs, bank and currency. Many in N wished to see S punished for suffering rebellion caused

ii)Repubs split btwn Conservatives and Radicals- Con wanted abolition but few other conditions for readmission, Radicals (led by Rep Thaddeus Stevens of PA + Sen Charles Sumner of MA) wanted Confed leaders punished, black legal rights protected, property confiscation. Moderates in between

d)Plans for Reconstruction

i)Lincoln proposed 1863 lenient Reconstruction plan- favored recruiting former Whigs to Repubs, amnesty to white Southerners other than high Confed officials. When 10% of ppl took loyalty oath state govt could be established. Questions of future of freedmen deferred for sake of rapid reunification

ii)The occupied Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee rejoined under plan in 1864

iii)Radicals unhappy with mild plan. Wade-Davis Bill 1864 proposed governor for each state, when majority of ppl took allegiance oath constitutional convention could be held w/ slavery abolished, former Confed leaders couldn’t vote. After Congress would readmit to Union. Lincoln pocket vetoed

e)The Death of Lincoln

i)April 14, 1865 Lincoln assassinated by John Wilkes Booth

ii)Hysteria in N w/ accusations of conspiracy. Militant republicans exploited suspicions for months, ensured a mild plan would not come soon

f)Johnson and “Restoration”

i)Johnson became leader of Moderate and Conservative factions, enacted his “Restoration” plan while Congress in recess during summer 1865

ii)Plan offered amnesty to southerners taking allegiance oath, Confed officials + wealthy planters needed special presidential pardon. Like Wade-Davis Bill had provisional governors, constitutional convention had to revoke ordinance of secession, abolish slavery, ratify 13th Amdt. State govts, then readmission

iii)By end of 1865 all seceded states has new govts, waiting for Congress to recognize. Radicals refused to recognize Johnson govts b/c public sentiment more hostile- (e.g. Georgia’s choice of Confed Alexander Stephens as Sen)

2)Radical Reconstruction

a)The Black Codes

i)1865 + 1866 S state legislatures passed laws known as Black Codes- gave whites power over former slaves, prevent farm ownership or certain jobs

ii)Congress reacted by widening powers of Freemen’s Bureau to nullify agreements forced on blacks. 1866 passed first Civil Rights Act- made blacks US citizens, gave fed govt power to intervene to protect rights of citizens

iii)Johnson vetoed both bills, but both were overridden

b)The Fourteenth Amendment

i)14th Amendment defined citizenship- anybody born in US or naturalized automatically a citizen + guaranteed all rights of Const. No other citizenship requirements allowed, penalties for restricting male suffrage. Former Confed members couldn’t hold state or fed office unless pardoned by Congress

ii)Radicals offered to readmit those who ratified amendment, only TN did so

iii)S race riots helped lead to overwhelming Repub majority (mostly Radicals) in 1866 Congressional elections, could now act over President’s objections

c)The Congressional Plan

i)Radicals passed 3 Reconstruction plans in 1867, established coherent plan

ii)TN readmitted, but other state govts rejected. Cong formed five military districts w/ commanders who registered voters (blacks + white males uninvolved in rebellion) for const convention that must include black suffrage

iii)After const ratified needed Congressional approval, state legislature had to ratify 14th Amdt. By 1868 10 former Confed states fulfilled these conditions (14th Amdt now part of Const) and readmitted to Union

iv)Congress also passed 1867 the Tenure of Office Act (forbade pres to remove civil officials w/o Senate consent) and the Command of the Army Act (no military orders except thru commanding general of army or w/ Sen approval)

v)Supreme Court case Ex parte Milligan had declared military tribunals where civil courts existed unconst, Radicals feared same ruling would apply to military districts so proposed bills threatening court—court didn’t hear Reconstruction cases for 2 years

d)The Impeachment of President Johnson

i)Pres Johnson obstacle to Radical legislation, yet tasked with administering Reconstruction programs. 1868 Johnson impeached for violation of Tenure of Office Act for dismissing Sec of War Stanton- Sen acquitted by 1 vote

3)The South in Reconstruction

a)The Reconstruction Governments

i)In ten states recognized under congressional plans up to ¼ of whites excluded from voting and office. These restrictions later lifted, but Repubs kept control w/ support of many southern whites called “scalawags” (most former Whigs, wealthy planters, businessman), felt Repub better for their economic interests

ii)“Carpetbaggers” were northerners (mostly professionals or veterans) who moved South after war to take advantage of new opportunity

iii)Most republicans, however, were black freedmen who held conventions and created black churches that gave them unity and political self-confidence. Were delegates to const conventions, held office- although white charges of “Negro” governments were over exaggerated or false

iv)Reconstruction governments’ records were mixed- there were charges of corruption and extravagance. But corruption also rampant in N- both result of economic expansion of govt services that put new strains on elected officials. Larger budgets reflected needed services previous govts had not offered: public education, public works, and poor relief


i)Education improvement benefited whites and blacks- large network of schools for former slaves created (over white opposition of giving blacks “false notions of equality”), by 1870s comprehensive public school system led to great percentage of white and black population attending school

ii)System divided into black and white system, integration efforts failed

c)Landownership and Tenancy

i)Freedmen’s Bureau and Radicals had hoped to make Reconstruction vehicle for southern landownership reform. Some redistribution of land in early years, but Pres Johnson and govt returned most confiscated land to returning plantation owners

ii)White landownership decreased b/c of debt, taxes or rentals. Black landownership increased, some relied on help of failed Freedman’s Bank

iii)Most ppl did not own land during Reconstruction, worked for others. Many black agricultural laborers worked only for wages, but most worked own plots of land and paid landlords rent or share of their crop

d)The Crop-Lien System

i)Postwar years saw economic progress for African Americans, great increase in income. Result of black profit share increasing, greater return on labor

ii)Redistribution did not lift many blacks out of poverty- black per capita income rose from ¼ of whites to ½, then grew little more afterward

iii)Gains of blacks and poor whites overshadowed by ravages of crop-lien system. After war few credit institutions such as banks returned, new credit system centered on local country stores

iv)Farmers did not have steady cash flow so relied on credit to buy what they needed. W/o competition stores charged incredibly high interest rates. Had to give lien (claim) on crops as collateral- bad years trapped them in debt cycle

v)Effects included leading some blacks who had gained land to lose it as they became indebted, S farmers became dependent on nearly all cash crops (only possibility to escape debt). Lack of diversity led to decline in agric economy

e)The African-American Family in Freedom

i)Major black response during Reconstruction was effort to build or rebuild family structures, reason why many immediately left plantations was to seek relatives and family

ii)Women began performing more domestic work + child caring, less field labor

iii)Poverty + economic necessity led many black women to do income-producing activity for wages, reminiscent of slave activities: domestic servants, laundry

4)The Grant Administration

a)The Soldier President

i)Grant accepted Repub nomination for president in 1868 election. Had no political experience, apptd incompetent cabinet members, relied on party leaders and spoils system. Alienated Northerners disillusioned w/ Radical reconstruction and corruption

ii)Opposing Repubs formed faction called Liberal Republicans, supported Dem nominee Horace Greeley in 1872 elections—but Grant won reelection

b)The Grant Scandals

i)Series of scandals emerged plaguing Grant and Repubs. Involved French-owned Credit Mobilier construction company helping build Union Pacific RR. Company heads steered contracts to company costing fed govt and Union Pacific millions, stock given to Congress members to stop investigation

ii)Later, “whiskey ring” found officials helping distillers cheat out of taxes. Later “Indian ring” scandal idea that “Grantism” brought corruption to govt

c)The Greenback Question

i)Grant’s and nation’s problems confounded by Panic of 1873- began w/ failure of investment bank, later debtors wanted govt to redeem war bonds w/ greenbacks (paper currency)

ii)Grant and other Repubs wanted “sound” currency based on gold that would favor banks and other creditors, didn’t want to put more money in circulation

iii)1875 Repubs passed Specie Resumption Act- pegged greenback dollars to the price of gold. Satisfied creditors, hard for debtors b/c money supply grew little

iv)National Greenback Party formed, unsuccessful but kept money issue alive

d)Republican Diplomacy

i)Johnson and Grant administrations had great foreign affairs successes b/c of Secretaries of State William Seward and Hamilton Fish

ii)Seward bought Alaska from Russia (“Seward’s Folly”), annexed Midway Islands. Fish resolved claims against GB of violating neutrality by building ships for Confed. Treaty of Washington allowed for arbitration of claims

5)The Abandonment of Reconstruction

a)The Southern States “Redeemed”

i)By 1872 nearly all S whites regained suffrage, worked as majority to overthrow Repubs. In areas of black majority whites used intimidations and violence (Ku Klux Klan, ect.) to prevent blacks from political activity

ii)Klan led by former Confed Gen Nathan Forrest. Worked to advance interest of those who would gain from white supremacy- mainly planter class and Democratic party. Most of all, however, economic pressure used

b)The Ku Klux Klan Acts

i)Repubs tried to stop white repression, 1870 passed Enforcement Acts (known as Ku Klux Klan Acts)- prohibited states from discriminating against voters on race, fed govt given power to prosecute violations. Allowed pres to use military to protect civil rights, suspend habeas corpus in some situations

ii)Grant used law in 1871 for “lawless” counties in SC

c)Waning Northern Commitment

i)Enforcement Acts peak of Repub enforcement of Reconstruction. After 1870 adoption of 15th Amdt many in N felt blacks should take care of themselves. Support for Liberal Democrats grew, some moves into Democratic Party

ii)Panic of 1873 undermined Reconstruction support further, N industrialists explained poverty and instability thru “Social Darwinism” where those who suffered did so b/c of own weakness. Viewed poor blacks in this light, favored little govt intervention to help. Depleted treasury led ppl to want to spend little on freedmen, poor state govts cut back on social services

iii)In Congressional elections of 1874 Dems won majority in House for first time since 1861, Grant used army to maintain Repub control in SC, FL, LA

d)The Compromise of 1877

i)In 1876 elections Repubs sought new candidate to distance from corruption and attract Liberals back- chose Rutherford B Hayes, Dems chose Sam Tilden

ii)Tilden won popular vote but dispute over 20 electoral votes from 3 states. Tilden one vote shy of electoral vote majority, Hayes needed all 20 votes to win. Congress created special electoral commission to judge disputed votes, chose 8-7 to give all votes to Hayes—won election

iii)Resolution result of compromises btwn Repubs w/ southern Dems- Hayes would withdraw last fed troops from S if Dems abandoned filibuster of bill

iv)“Compromise of 1877” also involved more financial aid for railroads and internal improvements in S in order to help Dems grow business and industrialize, withdraw troops to rid S of last Repub state govts

e)The Legacies of Reconstruction

i)Reconstruction made strides in helping former slaves but a failure b/c failed to resolve issue of race, created such bitterness that solution not attempted for another century. Failure b/c of ppl directing it, unwillingness to infringe on rights of states and individuals

6)The New South

a)The “Redeemers”

i)By 1877 w/ final withdrawal of troops every southern state govt “redeemed” (white Dems held power).  “Redeemers”/“Bourbons” members of powerful ruling elite, mostly new class of merchants, industrialists, financiers. Committed to “home rule”, social conservatism, economic development

ii)Dem govts lowered taxes, reduced services (incl. public education)

iii)By 1870s dissenters protesting service cuts and Redeemer govt commitment to pay off prewar and Reconstruction debts (e.g. VA Readjuster movement)

b)Industrialization and the “New South”

i)Leaders in post-Reconstruction south wanted to develop industrial economy, New South of industry, progress, thrift

ii)Literature of time indicates reference for the “Lost Cause” and Old South- Joel Chandler Harris’ 1880 Uncle Remus. Also, growth of minstrel shows

iii)New South included growth of textile manufacturing b/c of water power, cheap labor, low taxes. Tobacco-processing industry also grew, including James Duke’s American Tobacco Company. Iron + steel industry also grew

iv)Railroad development increased dramatically, 1886 greater integration with rest of country when changed its gauge

v)However, growth of South merely regained what it had done before war, average income in the South substantially lower than that of North

vi)Manufacturing growth required industrial labor force. Most were women, wages much lower than in N. Mill towns restricted by company w/ labor unions suppressed, credit thru company- but led to sense of community

c)Tenants and Sharecroppers

i)S still primarily agrarian. 1870s/1880s growth of tenantry and debt peonage, reliance on cash crops. Crop-lien system resulted in many losing land, maj of ppl in S became tenant farmers

ii)“Sharecropping” system where farmers promised large share of crop for land, tools- little money left over after payments. Subsistence farming gave way to only growth of cash crops- increased poverty. Coupled w/ “fence laws” (prevented ppl from raising livestock) led to decline in living self-sufficiently

iii)Backcountry + blacks affected led populist protests to follow in 1880s/1890s

d)African Americans and the New South

i)Some blacks attracted to New South ideals of progress + self improvement, entered middle class by becoming professionals, owning land or business

ii)This small rising group of blacks believed education vital to future of race- supported black colleges

iii)Spokesman for this idea was Booker T Washington (founder of Tuskegee Institute)- believed blacks should attend school and learn skills in agricultural or trade, win respect of white population by adopting middle class standards of dress. His “Atlanta Compromise” sought to forgo political rights, concentrate on self-improvement and economic gains to earn recognition

e)The Birth of Jim Crow

i)Pullout of fed troops, loss of interest in Congress, and Supreme Court decisions regarding 14th & 15th Amdts (civil rights cases of 1883 prevented state discrimination but not private organizations of individuals)

ii)Court validated separation of races- Plessy v Ferguson (1896) ruled separate accommodations did not deprive blacks of equal rights if accommodations were equal. Cumming v County Board of Education (1899)- laws for separate schools valid even if no comparable school for blacks existed

iii)White policies shifted from subordination to segregation- black voting rights had been used by Bourbons to keep their control of Dem party, but when poor white farmers saw this they sought to disenfranchise blacks. Got around 15th Amdt thru “poll tax”/property requirement or “literacy”/understanding test

iv)Jim Crow Laws segregated almost every area of southern life. 1890s increased violence (lynchings, ect) to inhibit black movement for equal rights. An anti-lynching movement did emerge led by Ida B. Wells to pass national law enabling fed got to punish those responsible for lynchings

v)White supremacy diluted class animosities btwn poor whites and Bourbon oligarchs. Economic issues played secondary role to race, distracting ppl from social inequalities that affected blacks and whites