Reconstruction may be defined as a period in the history of the United States after the Civil War that is characterized by significant political, economic, and social changes connected with the abolition of slavery. Unfortunately, it may be regarded as a failure due to its rejection by white southerners and insufficient support from the U.S. government.
The readmission of the eleven Confederate states’ union required comprehensive development and a new policy for the restored society. In general, the fundamental goals of Reconstruction included the maintenance of peace in the country’s south, the removing of the confederate governments, and the securing of all people’s civil rights.
However, the successful achievement of all these objectives remains substantively controversial. There were various factors that negatively influence Reconstruction and inevitably encouraged its failure.
First of all, the judicial abolition of slavery could not destroy the southerners’ social, economic, and political patterns of life that had been formed for a long period of time. In 1865, new southern states approved restrictive “black codes” that abusively controlled the behavior and labor of all African American freedmen.
In response, in 1867, outraged northerners supported radical presidential reconstruction that was characterized by political freedoms for black people. For the first time in the history of the United States, newly enfranchised African Americans got their voice in the government and won elections in several southern states and the U.S. Congress.
However, the new privileges of former slaves did not change the attitude of southerners towards them, and the white population kept trying to establish its supremacy. Southerners refused to sell land and pay salaries to African Americans for their work. It is necessary to notice the appearance of the Ku Klux Klan, a radical racist organization, as well.
It terrorized the black community and assassinated its members in a specific ritualistic manner. Unfortunately, such intimidating and disrespectful acts of hatred, acts of terror, and insensitive views against African Americans significantly contributed to the failure of Reconstruction.
Despite the fact that the definition of citizenship for black people was changed a substantial number of time during Reconstruction, former slaves finally received their rights as free Americans. They were guaranteed legal equal protection and voting rights, however, these rights were not respected in the south of the United States.
African Americans were frequently accused of crimes they did not commit. Judicial proceedings were unfair as investigations were conducted improperly, and judges were racists. After the establishment of segregation, the facilities for white and black people were separated. For instance, African Americans were not allowed to ride trains together with whites. Such unfair and prejudicial attitude to the black community encouraged the Reconstruction’s failure as well.
The economic depression that started in the 1870s may be regarded as a catalyst for the Reconstruction’s ineffective results. As white employers frequently treated blacks disrespectfully and unfairly, the prevalent number of African Americans was unable to earn money and provide an appropriate living. These people were forced to move across the country in search of any work.
The era of Reconstruction destroyed the majority of African Americans who could not rise above the level of poverty. Despite the fact that these people got civil rights as free citizens of the United States, they were not provided with financial support from the government and the provision of these rights by the white population.