In the history of the United States, Reconstruction was the period after the American Civil War when the southern states of the defeated Confederacy, which had seceded from the United States, were reintegrated into the Union.
Laws and legislation
Abraham Lincoln had endorsed a lenient plan for reconstruction, but the immense human cost of the war and the social changes wrought by it led Congress to resist readmitting the rebel states without first imposing preconditions. A series of laws, passed by the Federal government, established the conditions and procedures for reintegrating the southern states.
Much of the impetus for Reconstruction involved the question of civil rights for the freed slaves in the southern states. In response to efforts by southern states to deny civil rights to the freed slaves, Congress enacted a civil rights act in 1866 (and again in 1875). This led to conflict with President Andrew Johnson, who vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866; however, his veto was overridden.
After solid Republican gains in the midterm elections, the first Reconstruction Act was passed on March 2, 1867; the last on March 11, 1868. The first Reconstruction Act divided ten Confederate states (all except Tennessee, which had been readmitted on July 24, 1866) into five military districts.
During the period of Reconstruction there was considerable upheaval in Southern society. Northerners, known as carpetbaggers, moved south to participate in southern governments. Republicans assumed control of all state governments and began to pass numerous civil rights laws legalizing interracial marriage and ensuring black schools, and a variety of other ambitious proposals. In many cases former slaves were given very prominent ranks in the government, usually as state senators or state legislators. There were also numerous black judges, mayors, sheriffs, and deputy governors installed. Louisiana even had a black governor for a brief period. Most political "firsts" for African Americans occurred during this period.
The rapid rise of the black population caused considerable racial tension. White southerners who joined the Republican party were derisively called scalawags. Disgruntled Southerners denounced what they called the "black mob rule" and formed violent organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. The Republicans attempted to assist newly freed slaves by the establishment of the Freedman's Bureau.
Another consequence of Reconstruction was that a significant number of white Southerners migrated to the neighboring border states to escape the effects of the occupation; this caused white Southern culture to implant and flourish in these states, especially in Kentucky. Many also moved to Tennessee as the latter state did not experience Reconstruction despite having seceded.
The constitutional amendments
Three constitutional amendments were passed in the wake of the Civil War: the Thirteenth, which abolished slavery; the Fourteenth, which granted civil rights to African Americans; and the Fifteenth, which granted the right to vote. The fourteenth amendment was opposed by the southern states, and as a precondition of readmission to the Union, they were required to accept it (or the fifteenth after passage of the fourteenth). All Southern states were readmitted by 1870 (Georgia was the last on July 15), and all but 500 Confederate sympathizers were pardoned when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Amnesty Act on May 22, 1872. However, Reconstruction continued until 1877, when the contentious Presidential election was decided in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes, supported by Northern states, over his opponent, Samuel J. Tilden. Some historians have argued that the election was handed to Hayes in exchange for an end to Reconstruction; this theory characterizes the settlement of that election as the "Compromise of 1877." Not all historians agree with this theory; in any case, regardless of the circumstances, Reconstruction came to an end at this time.
Reconstruction-era military districts in the South
- First Military District: Virginia, under Gen. John Schofield
- Second Military District: The Carolinas, under Gen. Daniel Sickles
- Third Military District: Georgia, Alabama and Florida, under Gen. John Pope
- Fourth Military District: Arkansas and Mississippi, under Gen. Edward Ord
- Fifth Military District: Texas and Louisiana, under Gen. Philip Sheridan and several others.
Tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel were stationed in the U.S. Southern states to oversee the process of Reconstruction.
Governments that had been established under Abraham Lincoln's plan were abolished; the first Reconstruction Act stated that "no legal State governments or adequate protection for life or property now exist in the rebel States".
The failure of Reconstruction
The end of Reconstruction essentially signaled the end of civil rights for African Americans; as the years passed after the end of the war, the North lost interest in continuing to pursue the matter and instead turned its attention towards other concerns.
The South was allowed to establish a segregated society in return for accepting its integration into the Union, and the initial flurry of civil rights measures were eroded over time. The South also swayed Congress to pass the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibited federal military authorities from exercising localized civilian police powers. In the aftermath of Reconstruction, much of the civil rights legislation was later overturned by the United States Supreme Court. Most notably, the court suggested in the "Slaughterhouse Case" 83 US 36 (1873), then held in the Civil Rights Cases 109 US 3 (1883), that the Fourteenth Amendment only gave Congress the power to outlaw public, rather than private discrimination. Plessy v. Ferguson 163 US 537 (1896) went even further, providing that state-mandated segregation was legal as long as the statute or ordinance provided for "separate but equal" facilities.
The Supreme Court maintained "separate but equal" for many years until finally accepting that it was not in fact equal and abandoning it, reversing Plessy in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka 347 US 483 (1954). It was not until 1964 that the federal government made a concerted attack on the system of private racial discrimination that had become entrenched in the shadow of state Jim Crow laws when it passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in "public accommodations," i.e., restaurants, hotels and businesses open to the public, as well as in private schools and workplaces.
|State||Seceded||Admitted C.S.||Readmitted U.S.||Local Control Reestablished|
|South Carolina||December 20, 1860||February 4, 1861||July 9, 1868||November 28, 1876|
|Mississippi||January 9, 1861||February 4, 1861||February 23, 1870||January 4, 1876|
|Florida||January 10,1861||February 4, 1861||June 25, 1868||January 2, 1877|
|Alabama||January 11, 1861||February 4, 1861||July 14, 1868||November 16, 1874|
|Georgia||January 19, 1861||February 4, 1861||July 15, 1870||November 1, 1871|
|Louisiana||January 26, 1861||February 4, 1861||June 25 or July 9, 1868||January 2, 1877|
|Texas||February 1, 1861||March 2, 1861||March 30, 1870||January 14, 1873|
|Virginia||April 17, 1861||May 7, 1861||January 26, 1870||October 5, 1869|
|Arkansas||May 6, 1861||May 18, 1861||June 22, 1868||November 10, 1874|
|Tennessee||May 6, 1861||May 16, 1861||July 24, 1866||October 4, 1869|
|North Carolina||May 21, 1861||May 16, 1861||July 4, 1868||November 28, 1876|
- This article incorporates public domain text from Twenty Years of Congress: From Lincoln to Garfield. With a review of the events which led to the political revolution of 1860, by James Blaine.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html
You may copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license.
You must provide a link to http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html
To view or edit this article at Wikipedia go to http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstruction
Entertainment Network. A Cyprus
Roussos Music Entertainment Company. All Rights Reserved.
are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. You may copy and
modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under
this license. You must provide a link to http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
All trademarks and service marks including Napster,
MP3 Player, iRock,
MP3 Player, iRiver,
MP3 Players + iTunes,
Musical Instrument Equipment Store, BMG
Music Service, Columbia
House DVD Club, eBay,
Musical Instruments, Billboard,
Yahoo Search Marketing, MusicMatch,
Music Plus, Billboard
Stone Magazine, Walmart
and Noble book store, CDUniverse,
are property of their respective owners. Music.us has no affiliation with
but offers alternative services. Disclaimer: Uploading or downloading
of copyrighted works without permission or authorization of copyright
holders may be illegal and subject to civil or criminal liability and
penalties. Please buy
music and refrain from any illegal downloading activity. User
submitted free content, including Wikipedia encyclopedia or modification
thereof by end users, do not reflect the views and opinions of Music.us
and are for educational and research development purposes. Our website
offers advanced search for bands and artists bio and albums and browse
options for artist band biographies resources and information. We offer
blogs and community building tools for authors, bands and users. The Music.us
Entertainment Network is web's most comprehensive one-stop shopping, community
networking and education site. Find song lyrics, guitar tablature, posters,
ring tones, free MP3 downloads and hourly updating news feeds on musicians
and any genre style including rock,
and B, blues,
- Site Map
- MP3 - Music Downloads
- Song Lyrics