Free «Reconstruction» Essay Sample

Reconstruction refers to the period between the end of the Civil War when the last federal troops pulled out of the south. It mostly involved the transformation of Southern (the blacks) in order to restore black freedom and equality. The southern states were to be reorganized and readmitted into the Union. There was also the need for the whites and blacks to live together in a slave free society. The South, however, saw Reconstruction as a humiliating. They felt like they were being punished for losing the war.

Reconstruction can be viewed as a success from the following occurrences: it made black people realize that they had equal rights as the whites. They eventually were able to vote and participate in politics acquiring their own land just like the whites did. The amendments that were made gave them equal opportunities as the whites. Reconstruction improved the literacy levels of the blacks. They left their agrarian way of life and welcomed education.

Infrastructure was also greatly improved in the south, and this hauled the region from poverty and isolation. Railroads created a mechanically skilled group of craftsmen who broke the isolation of most of the region.

Reconstruction changed the tax structure of the South. Foner (1988) argues that in the United States history, the main source of revenue was the property tax. In the South, wealthy landowners were allowed to assess the value of their own land. This process also enabled the radicals enough control of the congress and changed the balance of power with the whites. They were able to choose their own leaders by vote. The white leaders who overturned and thrown out by the blacks.

Despite many successes, there were also some failures of this whole process. Even though the South became part of the Union again, it still suffered from poor graduation rates as compared to the North. Richard Taylor (1879), states that majority of the Southerners felt that the devastated region was not “reconstructed” but instead many of them were forced to fully submit to the white’s desires and ideas that were of their advantage, meaning the educational and skilled labor pursuits. This was a major failure of reconstruction since southern party was oppressed to agree.

Taxes were also increased in order to pay off the railroad bonds and the school costs. The taxpayers complained bitterly since these rates had been very low in the past. The constitutional amendments and legislative reforms that laid the foundation for the most radical phase of Reconstruction were enacted from 1865 until 1870. The major enactment in the US constitution  was the The Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude.

The civil rights bill was also enacted, and this enabled the slaves to be regarded as citizens, they were given equal freedom as the rest. The radical reconstruction bill was also enacted to govern the military, commanders in chief and the tenure of office of the United States. This marked the start of congressional reconstruction.

The Second reconstruction act was also passed to enable all qualified male adults at the south to be registered as eligible voters. This act was further strengthened by the Third reconstruction act where the eligibility of the voters was to be determined beyond the mere loyalty oath. Other acts that were drafted included the Enforcement acts, Ku Klux Klan act, Amnesty act, and the Third Freedom bill.

 The Abolitionists in the South

From the memorial times, people in the south mainly lived agrarian life-style. The goal of the abolitionist movement was the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation. This vocal minority managed to keep racial issues in the foreground until at least some of their views were accepted by others. Southerners, always saw them as a direct threat to their way of life. They had rich plantations where they deployed slaves to work for them. The existence of the abolitionists negatively affected those people, since this was to put an end to slavery in the south. Slavery was a major source of labor in the region.  Over time, abolitionists grew more stringent in their demands, and in retaliation, the land owners bitterly opposed the idea fueling disagreements that eventually led to the American civil war.   The abolitionists objected to slavery on moral grounds. They campaigned for its end and supported anti-slavery causes such as the Free State movement in Kansas. According to David Walker, in his book, An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, he called for black unity, education, religion, and self-help in the fight against oppression and injustice. He sought to undermine racist ideology and promoted education and self-help among the blacks. He also encouraged them to resume responsibility if they wanted to be free from oppression and discrimination. This appeal was influential to ending slavery in the United States. Walker also greatly influenced the abolitionist movement of black leaders and activists. In religion, he rejected a notion that the blacks were sanctioned to work and told the whites to stop this wickedness.

The largest and most dramatic slave revolt was introduced in Virginia by Nat Turner. He believed that he was a God’s chosen messiah to bring about revolution to his people. Instead his action resulted in the deaths of two hundred people including him. Turner’s rebellion also caused the rift between the North and the South. This revolt also caused the abolitionists and proslavery people to widen. It also led to a debate where it was passed that slaves were sold to the South cotton kingdom, and that solved the slavery problem at least in Virginia.

Although the abolitionism influenced the southern states to end slavery, it also had some negative impacts to the same people. They lacked laborers who would work for them and their farms; they depended mostly on their plantations and had various complications. The major cause of the American civil war was the issue of slavery. The southern nations withdrew from the union due to their differences with the north. This war had adverse effects in the south. The civil war remains the worst and bloodiest war in American history. It resulted in more deaths than any other conflict ever fought in the USA. It was fought over those fundamental differences, more so over the disagreement over slavery. This issue was primarily about whether the system of slavery was an evil practice or a state system protected by the Constitution. Seven confederate states fought to retain slavery in the region as a victory for the North would mean the end of the confederacy and of slavery in the United States; it will also strengthen the role of the federal government. These wars resulted in over 620,000 deaths of Americans, and the number doubled with those who were killed by diseases. Several survivors also returned home as amputees.

Thomas Jefferson as the President

I agree that in order to be successful, one needs to be focused and work tirelessly towards set objectives.. A good example of such person is Thomas Jefferson, a man who was brought in a humble Christian family. He served under President Washington as the first Secretary of State. He later served as a vice-president under President John Adams. Luckily, in 1800, he was elected to be the president of the United States as a republican candidate despite electoral controversy after a tie with Aaron Burr.

Jefferson is attributed with a number of successes. He believed that man could be reached by reason. Jefferson’s major reform was the end to the international slave trade which effected many people in the south who relied on them for their farms and plantations. However, Jefferson’s view on slavery and blacks is contradictory.  He relaxed to implement his own ideologies that he had stood for before being elected as the president. He feared for his own economic survival and safety of the whites at the mercy of former slaves. Having lived with the slavery society, Jefferson came out to oppose slavery.  He also believed that the most former slaves could not survive independently as they had no plantations in the United States. At one time, he deviated from his belief on a minority protection and thought that the blacks were naturally inferior to other races; however, he later signed a bill outlawing the slave trade.

Jefferson spent some time dealing with the federalist agenda with which he had opposed. He had the tax on liquor that caused the Whiskey Rebellion repealed. This reduced state revenue lead Jefferson to cut costs by reducing the military and relying instead on state militias. Jefferson removed many Federalist office holders in order to balance the civil service between parties. An important early event during Jefferson’s administration was the court case, which set up the Supreme Court’s power to rule federal acts unconstitutional. .

He was an able administrator. He could avoid a foreign war; earn both a reputation and good fortune for his country.  The Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country, allowed many people to migrate to the west to create new towns and cities. It also gave the United States an access to the Mississippi River, which provided a new way of transporting goods.

Although Thomas Jefferson was a good leader, he once time failed to focus on the objectives he had set before his was elected as the president. Some of his deeds resulted into more sufferings than good. When France and Britain were at war, Jefferson signed the Embargo Act in response. This stopped America from exporting and importing foreign goods. According to him, this was to end the trade in France and Great Britain. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect of his country’s trade.

Recession on the United States

Many countries have experienced various economic downturns in the past. Secession is a downturn in economic activity, characterized by at least two consecutive quarters of decline in a county’s gross domestic product (GDP).Secession is a formal withdrawal from an association by a group, which is discontented with the actions or decisions of that association. The term is generally used “to refer to withdrawal from a political entity; such withdrawal usually occurs when a territory or state believes itself justified in establishing its independence from the political entity of which it was a part. By doing so it assumes sovereignty” (Columbian Encyclopedia 2012).

Secession in UnitedState began with the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. The most dividing point between the South and North states that led to secession was the disagreements on slavery. The Central Government seemed to have ignored grievances of the secessionists. The secessionist who majorly comprised the countries from the south was against the removal of slavery as supported by Lincoln. The South also believed that the states were sovereign and were obliged to the US government, only for so long as they consented to the US constitution. 

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By contrast, the North which was the Unionists believed that the states were subordinate to the US Constitution and part of a perpetual Union. South was used to agrarian way of life since the land was profitable and the slaves played a very vital role in the cotton plantations. These individuals were majorly farmers who were protecting their interests unlike the North who were more civilized and therefore embraced new technology. South Carolina acted first, calling for a convention to secede from the Union. State by state, such conventions were held, and the Confederacy was formed. Within the three months of Lincoln’s election, seven states had seceded from the Union.

The civil war remains the worst and bloodiest war in American history. It resulted in more deaths than any other conflict ever fought in USA. It was fought over these fundamental differences on the disagreement over slavery. This issue was primarily about whether the system of slavery was an evil practice or a state system protected by the Constitution.

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The war let the south economically devastated by military action, ruined infrastructure and exhausted resources. The confederacy was outnumbered by the North. It was overmatched far more in technology, military equipment, the well-developed transport system, and ships and seamanship (Bowman 1983). External sources that provided war materials for the confederacy were blocked by the enemies who gained dominance along the navigable rivers used for transport. This also shut down the export of cotton and import of manufactured food. Since the plea of the governor to the planters to grow more food was ignored, food issues became a big problem in the South. Such decline impacted food supplies as well.

The most implacable obstacle to success for the North was the confederacy’s lack of manpower, less number of equipped and disciplined troops in the field in contact with the enemy. The defeat left the confederacy with no control over ports, harbors or navigable rivers. The railroads were destroyed or captured by their opponents. Those rich plantations, which were the main source of food, were captured as well. The confederates had to accept defeat, and this marked the end of confederacy in the United States. 


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