Amatul H.

asked • 04/20/20

What were the attitudes of white and black southerners toward Reconstruction?

What were the attitudes of white and black southerners toward Reconstruction?

Claire R.

Hi Amatul, According to documents and summaries found in the Library of Congress, as well as my own personal knowledge, here is my answer: "Reconstruction" refers to the period of time directly AFTER the Civil War. This time was essentially a back and forth and period of intense disagreement among Americans about what should be done to help the United States RECOVER from the devastation of the Civil War. General Southerner perspective: Most of the Civil War fighting was done in the South. This meant that countless plantations, homes, and land were completely wartorn, having been burned, ransacked, and fought near/in throughout the duration of the war. Southerners were anxious to pick themselves back up and re-invigorate the southern economy, and obviously expected the United States government to delegate reparations in order to help jump-start this process. The BIG ISSUE was: White and black southerners had opposite opinions on what reparations there should be, who they would go to, and ESPECIALLY the legal status of black southerners and former slaves. White Southerner perspective: In general, *white southerners expected that they would stop the war, begrudgingly rejoin the Union, and the status quo of the South would pretty much stay the same= white supremacy will stay and rule supreme and the abolition of slavery wouldn't be truly enforced.* In this vision, black southerners and former slaves would be "technically" free, but would have no civil rights or voice in government. **MANY Northerners shared these views and expectations for how Reparation would go, including President Andrew Johnson, who became president after Lincoln's assassination. Abraham Lincoln *also* shared these same views. Though he was the one who freed the slaves, he didn't agree that they should have equal rights to white folk. Black Southerner perspective: You can probably assume that black southerners didn't like this idea of being free by law but not by reality, and with no representation in the government. Both black Southerners and many Northern Republicans thought that before the Southern states rejoined the Union, the federal government needed to secure the basic rights of former slaves. ~So what went down?~ In civil rights legislation and 14th and 15th amendments, Congress wrote this policy into law. For the first time in history, they attempted to create a truly interracial democracy by giving former slaves and all black southerners and citizenship and the right to vote. This new law faced violent opposition in the south and some northerners even took steps back in their views of ideal racial equality because of the perceived "extreme" new laws. Final thoughts: Reconstruction was a relatively quick process in the North and not much changed in the northerners' lifestyles. The South, however, experienced a radical turnaround of its status quo and had extreme violence in response. It would be over a century later before the United States inched towards complete racial equality with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Hope this answers your question(s) and gives you food for thought!
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04/23/20

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Alexander T. answered • 04/23/20

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Alice Z. answered • 04/23/20

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Santiago S. answered • 04/22/20

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