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Reconstruction: a Post-Civil War Failure


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Jimmy Guillén Mr. Laird A.P. U.S. History 21 January 2010 Reconstruction: A Post-Civil War Failure Viewed as an era as a whole, Reconstruction takes place between the years 1865-1877 or between the Civil War’s end and the Union army’s withdrawal from the South. Reconstruction’s main goals were to integrate newly freed slaves into society, readmitting Southern states whom had seceded from the Union, and recreating Southern property as to better its conditions. At war’s end, the process of reconstruction sought out to solve the challenge that the disembodied Union now faced: what the status would be of postwar freedmen. While the North continued occupying Southern territories, Reconstruction shared very few successes. However, Reconstruction failed to meet its greater purpose. The process of Reconstruction was incompetent in integrating freedmen into American society because of its unstable and strained economy, its political disadvantages and its desire to redesign Southern social structure completely. Financial matters played a key role in Reconstruction’s failure, leading way to public hostility and corruption. Government industrialization plans helped rebuild the Southern economy however; the plans cost a lot of money to the government who financed such plans using tax revenue. Unable to keep up with the ever-growing investments, tax rates skyrocketed resulting in an antagonistic public opinion on Reconstruction. Conditions during this period were bad enough; the Civil War had greatly damaged the economy, greatly limiting financial opportunities as well as resources. Such a hostile view of the process encouraged people to wage a propaganda war, labeling advocates according to their region (Southerners got the name of scalawags, and Northerners carpetbaggers). Newly freed blacks were also affected having neither land normoney of their own, they had

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