Hollitz 1 Essay
Thomas A. Bailey’s, The Ordeal of Reconstruction (1966), presents a view that would claim the that the actions of the Northern ‘carpetbaggers’ and ‘scalawags’ were both “selfish and idealistic” in regards to the Republican government in the Southern states. Meanwhile, Bailey paints a sad picture of the once enslaved and uneducated Negroes of the Republican government, a role that he attributed as “pathetic and tragic.” Although Bailey does make an attempt to convey the overall mess that was the Republican government of the South, leaving no party blameless, I cannot help but feel that he carried through an undertone that would suggest that the Southern states were thrown to the wolves left to fend for themselves against their opposition from all sides. Whether it be their once public enemy, the Northerners who would present as manipulators whose sole objective was to exploit the Southern destruction for their own personal gain, the ignorant Negroes who couldn’t tell up from down, or the traitorous Southern scalawags who would leave behind their Southern brethren exchange for their stake in the power game, Bailey presents a sad and impossible state of affairs for the suffering whites of the South. Try as he may to deliver an unbiased explanation of the time, Bailey’s tone gives an overall negative opinion of the “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags.” Bailey noted the huge profits fraudulently obtained by the “carpetbag governor.” He cried lunacy in the decision to allow the “pitiable practices” that would put so many illiterate and uninformed Negroes to cast a vote that would affect a delicate Democracy they knew nothing about, and denying the Southern whites a vote. Only a small bit of credit was given to these decision makers and their positive reforms and legislature passed in their wake. Bailey almost seems to say that these changes were the result of an accidental success, alluding to the “more enlightened state constitutions” that would later...
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