Reconstruction: American Civil War and Black Man

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4. What were the objectives and long term effects of Reconstruction on political, economic and social development of the United States? Reconstruction, literally meaning the rebuilding of the shattered nation, was a pivotal movement between 1865 and 1877 in which the South was trying to be readmitted into the Union as well as a moment in time where blacks were attempting to gain a redefined status in American society. The period of reconstruction during the later half of the 19th century consisted of two primary periods, known as presidential and radical reconstruction. Each one had its own unique goals and accomplishments; both however making significant advances for both South and the freedmen following the end of the civil war. Politically, economically, and socially, America was affected significantly in these areas during the Reconstruction era. Although successful in its pursuit of readmitting the South and redefining the status of the black man, the greater of the two accomplishments for the country as a whole was the rise in importance of the black man in American society. While political participation became one of the leading goals for blacks, who thought and believed was a significant part of the overall definition of freedom, following the end of the Civil War, the South was devastated economically but starting from almost nothing, the Union was able to reassemble eventually into a united nation socially. The vision of freedom during this era was quite controversial during this time, as no single man appeared to have an acceptable and clear definition that applied to the common man. As Congressman James Garfield mentioned in 1865, “What is freedom? Is it the bare privilege of not being chained? If this is all, then freedom is a bitter mockery, a cruel delusion.” The idea of freedom meant two separate things for the white and black man. African American’s definition of freedom was based on their experiences as slaves and what they observed around them in what they considered a free society. Public education and the sharing of rights and opportunities as other American citizens were some of the ideals that swept through the minds of the once previous slaves. Henry Adams, who was an emancipated slave in the state of Louisiana stated, “If I cannot do like a white man, I am not free”; a common theme for all blacks during this redefining stage of the black man. Succession from the Union created a difficult path for the South back into the Union following the end of the Civil War in 1866. One of the most difficult objectives for the country as a whole was to gain the cooperation of the South in attempt to redefine the status of the black man; a goal that the South clearly and for good reason wanted no part of. Although not blatantly said before civil war broke out between the North and South, the war was fought over the debate of slavery. Therefore, as the North requested the South’s cooperation in honoring the goals and motives of this movement, there was an almost expected surge in opposition from those below the Mason-Dixie line. Social developments among the black communities created lasting effects upon American Society which has lasted more than a century. Institutions like churches became centers for schools and social events, and almost a century later became strongholds for speeches that propelled the civil rights movement. The first black universities began to spring up across the country suck as Fisk University in Tennessee, Hampton University in Virginia, and Howard University in Washington D.C. Black family life which previously never existed came into existence. These social advances sparked the political and economical changes that would soon follow. Presidential Reconstruction, 1865 through 1867, consisted of a series of proclamations that had one goal, to reunite the nation. The man behind all the action, President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, became the man in charge of the restoration of...
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