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Cartoons, Engravings and Etchings from Reconstruction
 

Cartoons, Engravings and Etchings from Reconstruction

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Brief slide show with audio about Reconstruction in the south following the American Civil War.

Brief slide show with audio about Reconstruction in the south following the American Civil War.

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    Cartoons, Engravings and Etchings from Reconstruction Cartoons, Engravings and Etchings from Reconstruction Presentation Transcript

    • Reconstruction Lisa M Lane Cartoons, Engravings and Etchings from
    • The War Between the States, or Civil War, was over. From the perspective of the victors, the union was restored. The cost had been great: 620,000 soldiers had died, the South was economically devastated, and the President had been assassinated. The big question was how to put the nation back together. The conflict had begun between the Reconstruction plans created by the Radical Republicans in Congress and the policies of the new President, southern unionist Andrew Johnson.
    • The etchings and cartoons of the day illuminate the issues that concerned most Americans. Uppermost in many minds was the problem of what to do about four million freed slaves. The Freedman's Bureau, set up by Congress in March of 1865, was responsible in many ways for reconstructing society. One of their most lasting contributions was in the education of freed peoples. In addition to teaching reading and writing, Bureau members founded black colleges in the South.
    • Civil rights measures brought AfricanAmericans into the political arena. Black leaders tended to be ministers or black veterans from the Union army. Participation in the justice system became more common. By 1870, some parts of the South regularly had integrated juries in the courtroom. Not all white lawyers were appreciative, however. One said that addressing AfricanAmericans as "gentlemen of the jury" was "the severest blow I ever felt".
    • Some artists saw the fate of freed peoples as determined by combined forces that former slaves could not fight against. In the drawing, Republican artist Thomas Nast shows a crudely stereotyped Irish northern Democrat on the left, a Confederate soldier in the center, and a norther banker on the right, all holding down a black union soldier who is reaching for a ballot box.
    • Although Federal voting rights were guaranteed by Constitutional amendment, many southern whites resisted the black threat to political and cultural control of their states. In this cartoon, a white supremacist and a hooded member of the KKK join hands across the union. Below, a black family huddles, while a lynched person hangs from a tree in the background. The schoolhouse sign and ABC book suggest that education was a poor substitute for basic rights and security.
    • A restored Union, to many Americans, meant a nation without slavery, not necessarily a nation with political power or equal rights for freed slaves, women, or children. Yet some artists retained an idealistic vision. In this final image, Reconstruction is depicted as a woman, binding the individual states together. Etchings, engravings and cartoons are primary historical documents. They can help us understand the conflicting views of Americans after the Civil War.