To What Extent Were the Aims of Reconstruction Achieved by 1877

Topics: Southern United States, Confederate States of America, American Civil War Pages: 10 (4130 words) Published: June 23, 2013
To what extent were the aims of reconstruction achieved by 1877?

The following essay will analyze the economic, social and political successes and failures of the reconstruction period, after the United States’ civil war. In the presidential elections of 1860, Republicans led by Abraham Lincoln opposed the idea of slavery into United States' territories. Although Lincoln had won the elections, by March 4, 1861, seven cotton plantation-based slave states formed the Confederacy. Lincoln’s first movements insisted that republicans would not initiate civil war, leading eight remaining slave states to reject immediate calls for secession. There was an intention to prevent war, but a peace conference failed, and there were no arrangements done. While both sides prepared for war, the Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on "King Cotton" for its industry that they would intervene; none did and none recognized the new Confederate States of America, in this way the southern economy, which was dependent of the European cloth market, was now in a very difficult position. Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Union troops in South Carolina. Lincoln called for a union army to retake it; meanwhile, four more slave states joined the Confederacy, bringing their total to eleven. The Union soon controlled the Border States and established a naval blockade that destroyed the southern economy. Meaning, the south could not trade with any foreign nation, in this way the cotton industry and its planters were totally crushed, therefore slavery was no more useful for southern states. On the other hand the north had a more advanced and industrialized economy which was well established and overwhelmed the southern one. By 1865, the south was completely defeated, and not just in the military sense. The old political ideas of secession, state’s rights, and nullification, had been also crushed, the power of southern planters was not even near to the one before the war. The cotton plantation-based economy, was destroyed, there was no more international trade and Britain had already found new markets from which to buy cotton, as India. However southern whites were desperate to maintain power over the blacks and the freedmen were desperate to get rid of slavery and start a new era. This situation was therefore a crisis, but also a great opportunity, as the north was motivated by Lincoln’s principles, and strength in his, while the confederacy was completely hopeless. The south was in some way ready for whatever changes the north imposed. However the north failed to understand the full strength of southern resentment to the freedmen, and president Johnson had vies thet seemed to represent the old south more than the new United States. Although some progress was made, as the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, success could have been much bigger, as although some of the aims were roughly fulfilled, as bringing the south back into the union, making the south yet again an integral part of the United States of America, requiring a major change in the south attitudes, which was clearly shown during the years of reconstruction that the old confederate ideas still remained in the head of the southerners. Other aims of the reconstruction were to remodel the south along the northern lines of economic, social and political reforms by removing its dependence in crops such as cotton or tobacco and modernize the south with industrialization, improvements in infrastructure, and education. More over the north also wanted to destroy the power of the planters forever, and encourage a democracy in the south, also they aimed to free the African Americans, and ensure that they remained free to work, live prosper without being again enslaved.

Reconstruction achieved its aims as African American strength in the United States had been clearly asserted during 1861-1865. Therefore reconstruction...
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