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Radical Reconstruction
Quick recap
• Andrew Johnson
– Pardoned basically all who asked
• Including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee
– Not concer...
Freedmen’s Bureau bill
• Congress passed two important bills; one extending the
Freedman’s Bureau
– All-purpose social wel...
“The Freedman’s Bureau,” Political Handbill from the Pennsylvania
Governor’s race, 1867
Civil Rights Act
• Nation’s first Civil Rights Act
– Outlawed state laws discriminating against
blacks
• Extraordinary exp...
“We regard the
Reconstruction Acts (so called)
of Congress as usurpations,
and unconstitutional,
revolutionary, and void.”...
“Selling a Freedman to Pay his Fines in Monticello, Florida,” Leslie’s
Illustrated Newspaper (Jan 1867)
14th Amendment
• Designed to give black men citizenship
– Proposed in 1866; ultimately ratified in 1868
• Some women’s rig...
14th Amendment
• Remains the single most significant change
to the Constitution since the Bill of Rights
• Provided a broa...
14th Amendment, section 1
“All persons born or naturalized in the United
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,
...
14th Amendment, section 2 & 5
“Representatives shall be apportioned among the several
States according to their respective...
14th
Amendment: Long-term
consequences
• Supreme Court until the mid-20th
century interpreted
the 14th
Amendment narrowly
...
Radical Reconstruction (1866-76)
• Far-reaching but short-lived revolution
– W.E.B. Dubois: “a splendid failure”
• Reconst...
Johnson and Congress at War
• 4 other acts ultimately passed
• Johnson faced impeachment proceedings
– Narrowly escaped be...
15th Amendment
• Designed to enfranchise former male slaves:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not...
Freedpeople’s vision
• Land
– Subsistence farming
• Family autonomy and security
– On plantations, they relocated their ca...
Republican Party in the South
• Blacks not the majority in most of the South
– Only in SC, parts of LA and MS
– Must ally ...
Why no land redistribution?
• Scalwags didn’t support
• Parties had very different economic visions
for the South
– Some w...
Land, cont.
• Could the Republicans have held on if they
held out hope to poor whites?
– Land and credit
• People emphasiz...
Rise of the KKK
• Formed as early as 1866
– Pulaski, TN; former Confederate officers
• Most active period 1868-72
• Reign ...
Thomas Nast,
Harper’s,
1874
Hannah Rosen chap.
• From Terror in the Heart of Freedom
• Freed people wanted to protest violence;
federal officials want...
Northern ambivalence
• Commitment to limited government
• No tradition of “social engineering”
• Long traditions of racism...
Election of 1876
• Remained unsettled until March 2
• Samuel Tilden (Democrat) won the popular vote
but fell short in the ...
Post “redemption”
• New Democratic state and local governments
decimated the public school system and offered
few public s...
Why did Reconstruction fail?
• Violent white supremacy
• Refusal on the part of the federal
government to uphold the rule ...
Black officeholders
• More than ½ of all black elected officials held positions in
SC, LA and MS – in plantation belt area...
Black officeholders, cont.
• Black officeholders were never a majority in any state
legislatures
– Only in SC did African ...
South Carolina legislators,
photo montage assembled
by opponents of Radical
Reconstruction (ca. 1868-
72). South Carolina ...
Lecture 17: Radical Reconstruction
Lecture 17: Radical Reconstruction
Lecture 17: Radical Reconstruction
Lecture 17: Radical Reconstruction
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Lecture 17: Radical Reconstruction

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Lecture 17

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Lecture 17: Radical Reconstruction

  1. 1. Radical Reconstruction
  2. 2. Quick recap • Andrew Johnson – Pardoned basically all who asked • Including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee – Not concerned with rights for former slaves – Returned confiscated lands to pardoned owners • Southern defiance – Black codes: Attempts to reinstitute slavery – Election of Confederate officials • But the Republicans, who controlled Congress, refused to seat them • Congress began moving to seize control over the process of Reconstruction
  3. 3. Freedmen’s Bureau bill • Congress passed two important bills; one extending the Freedman’s Bureau – All-purpose social welfare organization • Aside from the Army, only institution blacks could turn to for protection • Dealt with orphaned children; sanctioned marriages; set up schools; negotiated labor contracts • Evolved into a kind of legal system to settle disputes between whites and blacks – Important to understand that Americans had no precedent for this – Although chronically understaffed, hugely controversial – Johnson vetoes
  4. 4. “The Freedman’s Bureau,” Political Handbill from the Pennsylvania Governor’s race, 1867
  5. 5. Civil Rights Act • Nation’s first Civil Rights Act – Outlawed state laws discriminating against blacks • Extraordinary expansion of black rights and federal authorities • But not extremely radical – Didn’t guarantee blacks the vote – Little enforcement apparatus/protection for blacks • Again, Johnson vetoed • Spring/Summer 1866: Congress passed new laws overriding Johnson’s veto
  6. 6. “We regard the Reconstruction Acts (so called) of Congress as usurpations, and unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void.” - Democratic Platform (Harper’s Magazine, Sept. 1868)
  7. 7. “Selling a Freedman to Pay his Fines in Monticello, Florida,” Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (Jan 1867)
  8. 8. 14th Amendment • Designed to give black men citizenship – Proposed in 1866; ultimately ratified in 1868 • Some women’s rights advocates opposed it – Introduced “male” into Constitutions – Wanted freedmen and women to gain full citizenship together – Felt betrayed by former abolitionist allies like Frederick Douglass • Proclaimed it the “Negro’s Hour” • Pres. Johnson and most Democrats opposed it as too radical; Johnson went on speaking tour • Major campaign issue in 1866 midterm election – Memphis Race Riot, May 1-3, 1866 • 3 days; 46 blacks killed, 2 whites • Congressional report on riot used to support 14 Amendment – Overwhelming Republican victory
  9. 9. 14th Amendment • Remains the single most significant change to the Constitution since the Bill of Rights • Provided a broad definition of citizenship – “Birthright citizenship” – Overturned the infamous Dred Scott case (1857) • Hedged on suffrage – Did not guarantee the vote outright – Instead, punished states that denied citizens the right to vote by reducing their representational power in Congress
  10. 10. 14th Amendment, section 1 “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
  11. 11. 14th Amendment, section 2 & 5 “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers…. But when the right to vote at any election…is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.” Section 5: Gives Congress the power to enact legislation enforcing the amendment.
  12. 12. 14th Amendment: Long-term consequences • Supreme Court until the mid-20th century interpreted the 14th Amendment narrowly • But eventually “due process” clause came to be read as meaning that the Bill of Rights applied state as well as federal laws – (1830 Barron v. Baltimore had ruled otherwise) • Section 5 in effect gave Congress the power to regulate the states’ treatment of its citizens • Reversed the founders’ view of federalism – Before, the federal government was seen as the chief threat to one’s rights and freedoms
  13. 13. Radical Reconstruction (1866-76) • Far-reaching but short-lived revolution – W.E.B. Dubois: “a splendid failure” • Reconstruction Acts – First, passed in March 1866 • South put under military occupation; 5 military districts • Martial law • Disenfranchised leading ex-Confederates • Army registered black voters • Black men gained all the formal rights of citizenship – Throughout the South, black men served as elected officials in great numbers
  14. 14. Johnson and Congress at War • 4 other acts ultimately passed • Johnson faced impeachment proceedings – Narrowly escaped being impeached—by one vote; left office a broken man • Republicans put forward Grant as their candidate for 1868 – “Give us Peace” • 15th Amendment
  15. 15. 15th Amendment • Designed to enfranchise former male slaves: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” • Note: does not include protections based on “sex” • Proposed in 1869; ratified in 1870
  16. 16. Freedpeople’s vision • Land – Subsistence farming • Family autonomy and security – On plantations, they relocated their cabins – Withdrew black and children women from agricultural work • Education – Literacy rates for blacks soared in just a few decades – From 20% in 1850 to nearly to 80% in 1890
  17. 17. Republican Party in the South • Blacks not the majority in most of the South – Only in SC, parts of LA and MS – Must ally with scalawags (Southern Republicans) – Northern carpetbaggers (maybe 2% of pop.) • These men are not as radical as freedman • Want to court white votes • Economic power remained in hands of landed elites
  18. 18. Why no land redistribution? • Scalwags didn’t support • Parties had very different economic visions for the South – Some wanted state-sponsored programs— schools, hospitals, asylums, etc • Promoting racial equality – Others were more cautious • South’s economy in shambles; these schemes would mean higher taxes • Even some Black Republicans wary of integration
  19. 19. Land, cont. • Could the Republicans have held on if they held out hope to poor whites? – Land and credit • People emphasized the sanctity of private property, but… – What about the railroad companies? – Received 6,300 acres for every mile laid down
  20. 20. Rise of the KKK • Formed as early as 1866 – Pulaski, TN; former Confederate officers • Most active period 1868-72 • Reign of terror and intimidation – Targeted black office holders, officials and Republicans • Federal government finally acted in 1870-71 – Enforcement Laws – Grand juries indicted more than 3,000 Klansmen • Only about 600 convicted
  21. 21. Thomas Nast, Harper’s, 1874
  22. 22. Hannah Rosen chap. • From Terror in the Heart of Freedom • Freed people wanted to protest violence; federal officials wanted to document it – “By seeking out officials of this new, federally backed state in order to testify about sexual violence, freedwomen asserted the legitmacy of federal power over affairs in the southern states. The rights of freedwomen depended on the survival of this new state that rejected slavery and recognized African American citizenship, and by calling its officials for assistance, they represented it as, and encouraged it to become, their protector.”
  23. 23. Northern ambivalence • Commitment to limited government • No tradition of “social engineering” • Long traditions of racism, localism, state power • Many Democrats blamed violence in the South on Republican “meddling”
  24. 24. Election of 1876 • Remained unsettled until March 2 • Samuel Tilden (Democrat) won the popular vote but fell short in the Electoral College – Results disputed in SC, LA, FL • Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) was ultimately elected after striking a bargain with moderate southern Democrats • “Home rule” – Nearly all remaining federal troops removed from the South – Federal troops did not return again to the South until 1957 (Little Rock crisis)
  25. 25. Post “redemption” • New Democratic state and local governments decimated the public school system and offered few public services • Mired in corruption • Lagged behind the rest of the country • By 1900, South had a smaller percentage of the nation’s capital and factories than it had before the Civil War – Despite the ideology of the “New South” that trumpeted the region as an area ripe for capitalist development
  26. 26. Why did Reconstruction fail? • Violent white supremacy • Refusal on the part of the federal government to uphold the rule of law • Lack of meaningful land redistribution – Without greater economic power, political rights were vulnerable • Failure of Northern will – North increasingly preoccupied with its own problems; disillusioned with freed people
  27. 27. Black officeholders • More than ½ of all black elected officials held positions in SC, LA and MS – in plantation belt areas; regions with the wealthiest and formerly most powerful whites • Nearly half were born free – Either so-called ‘carpetbaggers’ or free southern African Americans • Others were ex-slaves who had typically held privileged positions under slavery • Vast majority (83% of those for whom info is available) were educated and literate. • Most acquired skills in political organization through church service, work as teachers, or in Union leagues
  28. 28. Black officeholders, cont. • Black officeholders were never a majority in any state legislatures – Only in SC did African American politicians dominate one house of the legislature • 16 black politicians served in the U.S. Congress between 1869-1880 • 25 served in major state executive positions (as lieutenant governor, secretary of state, etc.) • Across the south, 683 black politicians sat in lower houses of state legislatures and 112 in state senates • Overall nearly 2,000 black men won election to national state and local office (mayors, sheriffs, JPs, town councilmen, county supervisors).
  29. 29. South Carolina legislators, photo montage assembled by opponents of Radical Reconstruction (ca. 1868- 72). South Carolina was the only state in the Reconstruction Era with a black majority in its lower house. The two whites were “scalawag” politicians.

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