The response of the elite to Blacks exercising their rights was not favorable. The elite wanted to protect their way of living by any means. They tried to formally follow the laws and pass new laws that reinforced slavery under another name. For instance, Black Codes and Ku Klux Klan were resurrections of the slave trade and slave patrol.
Black codes required all Black people to have contracts with white landowners. Otherwise, they would be fined, and if they were unable to pay the fine, law enforcers would look for landowners who could pay for them. Black people would be forced to work to pay their debt to landowners.
Another example of trying to preserve order as it was in the Memphis riots of 1866, during which all-Black schools and churches were destroyed. These acts of violence were a reaction to Black people coming back home as Civil War veterans. During this time, Black people were not protected by law, and the elite responded with acts of unprecedented violence.
In order to understand the reaction of the northern political elite developed, it is beneficial to look at the positions of the US presidents after the war. Abraham Lincoln believed that Black people should become citizens and have the right to vote. President Johnson did really care about the lives of Black people, as he wanted to flatter his ego by giving out pardons to wealthy landowners from the South.
As a result, his plan was called a failure, and radical republicans overtook the power. President Grant wanted to ensure that all the states followed the principles of the reconstruction amendments. Finally, President Hayes, while being a supporter of the idea that Black people should be free, did not want to interfere in states’ independent governing.
In summary, while the southern political elite was stable in objecting to Black people practicing their rights, northern political leaders were inconsistent in their approach to the matter, which led to the ultimate failure of the reconstruction process.