Reconstruction is still remembered as a period of violent repercussion and revolutionary feasibility stemming from the most widespread discussions of citizenship since the nation’s founding. The main aim of this era was to restore and unite states in the South and North to redefine African American’s place in American civilization. In other words, the whole country finally realized that everyone was equal and had certain rights. African Americans were freed and managed to secure their citizenship among white people. However, Reconstruction eventually collapsed due to social, legal, and political implications.
To begin with, granted freedom for African Americans led to former slaves insisting on their right to own land. They believed that they should be finally paid with land ownership for the injustice they endured. In other words, black people directed their desires only on the land and not job on plantations. As a result, President Andrew Johnson ordered federals to return the land to its former owners. However, land distribution did not follow, and therefore, most former slaves who lived in rural areas continued to remain poor and with no property during Reconstruction. Even though, as stated previously, African Americans did not intend to work on white-owned plantations, they were forced to work even for their former owners to survive. Overall, the land policy of Reconstruction proved to be a failure since all the promises from the President about returning the land to African Americans were not held. Black people indeed experienced short freedom; however, shortly, everything returned to its place, and they remained white people’s slaves.
Furthermore, Andrew Johnson, the President of the United States during Reconstruction, believed himself to be a champion of honest yeomen; however, he still lacked Lincoln’s political skills. Furthermore, the President considered African Americans useless in the era of Reconstruction. In other words, he did not support the main ideas of the period to free the slaves from the South. Therefore, his plan for Reconstruction introduced more benefits to the white southern elite. He granted permission for the state governments to easily manage their local matters. Initially, most white southern people supported Andrew Johnson’s plan; however, they quickly switched to the Republican North. As a result, the President’s plan of Reconstruction failed, and Republicans divided the South into five military districts and gave black people the right to vote. One of the most prominent members of Radicals and, at the same time, their leader, Thaddeus Steven, aimed to confiscate the land of traitorous planters and share it among former slaves of the South.
Nevertheless, his plan was too extreme for most people in Congress, though Radicals still managed to enhance southern politics unitedly. For instance, the Reconstruction Act led to alternations in the political organization: southern states had Republican majorities. Furthermore, more than two thousand African Americans filled public services, and fourteen were selected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The peaceful co-existence of black and white people made a substantial difference in the life of the South: fairness was achieved in local governing.
Unfortunately, not all the white people supported the black people’s independence and could not imagine them remaining peaceful after being granted equal rights. To be more exact, the northern Liberal Republicans reckoned that the North must remain the natural leaders, and the South should not have its power. The attack of Liberals led to the renewal of racial violence in the North. Another critical point is that most northern residents blamed black southern politicians for corruption and fraud. Overall, the North was utterly opposed to the black people’s freedom and served as a driving force for further racial and political violence development.
Consequently, racial and political violence then developed into riots against black politicians and former slaves in general. The most horrible rampage occurred in Memphis and New Orleans; then, the violence spread among other states. As a result, the Radical Republican’s plan for Reconstruction led to the political and social consequences that hurt victims of racial violence. Moreover, terrorism resulted in the end of federal involvement in Reconstruction and contributed to the beginning of a new period of racial repression.
To sum up, Reconstruction can be called neither a success nor a failure since it brought as many negative consequences as positive enhancements. The most significant part of the era is that Lincoln’s desire to restore the Union after the war was finally satisfied. However, the South and North were united behind the imperatives of regional expansion and not securing the full rights of citizens. As a result, a new community faced numerous problems regarding black people’s freedom, the failure of the Radical Republican’s act, and the considerable racial violence. Furthermore, having tasted independence during Reconstruction, the black southern people were then once again limited on their freedom for the next hundred years.