Reconstruction The Legacy of the Civil War

What was the legacy of the Civil war? What came of all the pain and bloodshed? Was it worth all the suffering it caused? The answers lie in the period just after the war: reconstruction. It was a time of struggle; the emancipated slaves struggled for freedom, the vengeful south struggled for a "lost cause", and everyone struggled to rebuild. Reconstruction largely failed, the south successfully fought against or even reversed much of the progress that was made, largely through hate-groups like the KKK. However, there were some successes, such as the 15th amendment, which gave all native-born men citizenship and the right to vote regardless of color. Although these amendments and other legislature only fanned the flames at the time, they would make way for the Civil Rights movement many years later in what was perhaps the finest legacy of the Civil war and reconstruction. The legacy of reconstruction lies in southern resistance, new constitutional amendments, and the Civil Rights movement.

Reconstruction failed to provide truly equal rights to blacks. The south, having been devastated by the war, blamed many of their hardships on blacks and feared that they would continue to hurt their interests by voting for republicans rather than democrats. So, they formed hate-groups like the KKK, which terrorized blacks and anyone who was pro-black. They used terror to prevent blacks from voting and to keep reconstructionist republicans from taking office. Cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, Thomas Nast tried to convince readers that the Klan and the racism they spread were evil by surround them in imagery of burning schools and lynched corpses. The Klan spread the idea of “the lost cause of the confederacy” that sought to paint the south as the noble heroes of the Civil war with a god-given right to enslave blacks. Nast draws them as they really are, terrorists. These terrorists killed many blacks and fought to destroy reconstruction; they were largely successful.
One good outcome of reconstruction was legislature, like the 15th amendment, that gave blacks right in law, even if they were not enforced in reality. The 15th amendment states that no one can be kept from voting on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Congress passed this amendment mostly to defy president Johnson, who they believed had a poor plan for reconstruction. Alas, the main outcome at the time was that both north and south felt disenfranchised, as many places throughout America had laws that forbade voting on account of race. At the time, most people were upset by the 15th amendment, but from our standards today it is wonderful, it brought African Americans one step closer to equality, even if it was not apparent at the time.
The proudest legacy of the reconstruction is likely the Civil Rights movement. African Americans finally got the rights they had fought so long and hard for. In MLK’s “I have a dream speech” he says he has a dream that someday there would be no discrimination or hate in the United States, and he speaks of their forefathers who believed all men were created equal. The speech was watch by millions of people and will be remembered for as long as there is history, and its success is made possible by reconstruction. Elements of reconstruction like the 15th amendment and the works of great minds like Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman inspired a new generation to step up for their rights. And this time, they one. This is the true legacy of reconstruction.

In conclusion, the legacy of reconstruction lies in southern resistance, new constitutional amendments, and the Civil Rights movement, but the ultimate legacy is that of civil rights. Even beyond the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, reconstruction ties into the civil rights issues we face today. King's dream, and the dream of many reconstructionists still has not been fully realized. We have made much progress, but even today we have movements for black equality, like Black Lives Matter. Although not everyone may love their methods, just as many people disliked reconstruction efforts, they are fighting for an end to violence and systematic racism against black people. This is a fundamental thing they deserve as human beings, but they have found that they must fight for it, just as their forefathers fought for equality 150 years ago. The legacy of reconstruction is still with us today.

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