How did life in the South change for blacks and whites politically, economically, and socially after the Civil War?
Civil War members of Congress tried to destroy the white power structure of the Rebel States. There was a bureau created to protect the interests of former slaves called The Freeman’s Bureau on March 3, 1865. It helped them find jobs, get a better education and create better health facilities. The bureau spent around $17,000,000 to build 4,000 schools and over 100 hospitals and gave homes and food to former slaves. After rejecting the Reconstruction plan of President Andrew Johnson, the Republican Congress enacted laws and Constitutional amendments that empowered the federal government to enforce the principle of equal rights, and gave blacks the right to vote and hold office. The new Southern governments confronted violence from the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups. In time, the North abandoned its commitment to protect the rights of the former slaves, Reconstruction came to an end, and white supremacy was restored throughout the South. Most of this century, Reconstruction was widely viewed as an era of corruption and misgovernment, supposedly caused by allowing blacks to take part in politics. This point of view helped to justify the South's system of racial segregation and denying the right of blacks to vote, which survived into the 1960s. Today, as a result of extensive new research and profound changes in American race relations, historians view Reconstruction far more favorably, as a time of genuine progress for former slaves and the South as a whole. For all Americans, Reconstruction was a time of fundamental social, economic, and political change.
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