The governments established under Congressional Reconstruction made notable and lasting achievements. One positive outcome that resulted was the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which extended citizenship to African Americans and listed certain rights of all citizens such as the right to own property, bring lawsuits, and testify in court. Another major outcome was the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibited the states from denying the right to vote because of a person's race or because a person had been a slave. This finally granted African Americans the right to vote and marked an important change in the history of our country. A negative outcome resulted politically from congressional Reconstruction. Many of the federal laws concerning reconstruction led to the strengthening of the federal government at the expense of the states. These new laws often placed significant restrictions on state actions on the ground that the rights of national citizenship took precedence over the powers of state governments leading to an increase in sectional bitterness, an intensification of the racial issue, and the development of one-party politics in the South. Stemming from this "infringement" of states' rights and intensified by the election of 1868 was another negative outcome. Fierce activities were stirred up by groups such as the KKK- violence became prominent, and terrorists and mobs attacked many people- mostly Republicans and blacks.
The end of slavery brought new expectations for all African Americans, whether they had been slaves or not. Taking advantage of the new choices that freedom opened, they tried to create independent lives for themselves, and they developed social institutions that helped to define black communities. African Americans also expected political and economic equality. Few were able to acquire land of their own- a significant constraint on their economic choices- and most became either wage laborers or sharecroppers. Having no land, no...
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