By the end of the Civil War, the new issue that emerged in Congress was what to do with the Confederacy. Many plans were proposed but the one that was chosen planned to treat the South as a series of conquered territories. Each could be admitted back into the
nation as a stake if a certain percent of the eligible voter swore an oath to the Union. The issue of Reconstruction also had to deal with what to do with all the freed slaves. It was obvious that if left without close observation from the North, the South would quickly turn on these newly freed men and women. From 1865 to 1877 the Government made actual efforts to protect the right of Africa Americans. After 1877, all efforts were reversed when the South regained power.
During Reconstruction, from 1865 to 1877, the Union did make an effort to ensure that African Americans were given the rights that the 14th and 15th amendments had guaranteed them. The Freedmen’s Bureau was probably the most successful of these efforts. They mainly focused on the education of these freed people. Despite valiant efforts to help, African Americans were being taken advantage of. Most freed slaves became sharecroppers. The sharecropping system was extremely unfair to the tenant who almost always ended up in a ton of dept. Sharecropping was about as close as the South could get to slavery. By the end of Reconstruction, the South was extremely eager to get rid of the military powers of the North. This led to the Compromise of 1877, in the election of Rutherford B Hayes. Due to a mistake with the electoral college, the presidential vote came to congress. The Compromise, allowed for the election of Hayes if the Union withdrew its troops from the south.
With this withdrawal came the end of the possibility of racial equality in the south. This marked the beginning of the age of the redeemers. Redeemers were politicians who vowed to return the South to its former glory. Despite having the right to vote, few African Americans could even register. The South had imposed the Poll Tax, Literacy Test, and Grandfather Clause to ensure that the ability to vote could not extend to African Americans. The practice of lynching was also particularly bad and the heavy opposition to lynching in Congress didn’t receive much success. Due to the redemption of the government, southern racists could create laws to deal with African Americans as they saw fit. By 1900 America may have gotten rid of slavery, but the status of African Americans in the south was anything but good.
Had Reconstruction continued, the South may have been able to recover without creating so much prejudice for African Americans. As it happened, a political bargain for the top executive spot would lead to almost a century of prejudice and segregation, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, and underlying racism that persists even today.
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