Failure of Reconstruction

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Susan Weng
Reconstruction: Overall Failure.
After the Civil war ended in 1865, the south was in complete shambles, the economy was down, there were political struggles, and newly freed slaves needed to be included in society. All these problems called for “The Reconstruction Act of 1867”, which was instituted by the Republican Party. The goal of reconstruction was meant to reunite the nation and rebuild a southern society that was not based on slavery. Historians Kenneth M. Stampp and Eric Foner have opposite views on the success of reconstruction. Stampp believes that the steps and reforms from reconstruction had long term effect which made it successful while Foner argues that reconstruction was a waste of time and that it has not produced one useful result. Both historians debated on the success of reconstruction, however in my opinion, stronger evidence points to its failure following Foner’s argument. The effort of reconstruction did not help improve the economy and the life of African Americans in general did not change much overall.

Freed slaves post civil war were still uneducated and more importantly, they were still in the south. They had no place to go and no place to call home until Union General Sherman proposed the “Forty Acres and a Mule” bill. This bill essentially stated to give African American families forty acres of land along with a mule. This bill bought so much hope and relief to those with nothing only to close the bill a year later. Because the blacks did not get their promised land, they continued to be poor and resorted to sharecropping with rich southern farmers. Sharecropping is a system in which a landowner allows a tenant to use his/her land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land. In other terms, sharecropping was basically another form of slavery. African Americans were put into debt and had to work it off in an endless cycle. This system was very ineffective as it failed to help blacks economically. As...
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