RRN Roof Road Notebook

The Reconstruction Era

Reconstruction Begins

If you don't know yet, reconstruction is the effort to reorganize the seceded states and bring them back to us (the Union). Why do we need reconstruction, you ask? Let's be honest, right now, our country is a mess, the seceded states need to come back, the slaves have no where to go, the South's economy is failing, etc. I mean, just take a look at one of the South's states! Take Texas, for example. Their transportation system is destroyed, their plantation system has collapsed, and their economy is in ruins!

The Two Presidential Plans

Lincoln and Johnson both have different plans for reconstruction, which one should we follow?

Lincoln's plan was to restore the Union as quickly as possible. He believed that punishing the South would only delay healing the nation. After he was assassinated in April 1865, our new president, Andrew Johnson, took up the task of Reconstruction. President Johnson wants to set up a provisional government in every confederate state. He also wants to send federal troops to protect the politicians sent down to the South.

Slavery Ends in Texas!

On June 19, a large Union force commanded by General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston to take control of the Texas. His first act was to announce that all slaves are free. June 19th is now known as Juneteenth. There were big and cheerful celebrations help to celebrate the freedom of slaves in the South. After all the slaves were freed though, they had no where to go. So, the government established the Freedman's Bureau, an agency made to aid freed slaves.

New texas Governor appointed

President Johnson tried to appoint a Southerner who opposes secession to lead the provisional government for Texas, so he turned to Andrew J. Hamilton, a former state representative for Texas in Congress when the secession crisis began in 1861. Hamilton wants Texas to return to the Union quickly and peacefully. He called for the election of delegates, who nearly all of them support secession and the Confederacy, to a constitutional convention. Therefore, it was very biased.

A new constitution

The Constitution of 1866 canceled secession and the state's war debt and abolished slavery. However, it stopped short on granting African American Texans equal rights. The voters approved the constitution and elected a new state government. The Confederate supporters took back control, but refused to approve two amendments: the 13th amendment, which outlawed slavery, and the 14th amendment, which protected the rights of freedmen. However, the Texas Legislature did make black codes, laws limiting the rights of African Americans.

Congress Takes Control

Since the US Constitution gives Congress the power to admit new states, Northern leaders protest that Congress, not the president, should control Reconstruction. Their argument grew stronger when Johnsons plan was not going very well. Almost everywhere in the South, ex-Confederates are filling state government posts. Right now, in 1866, every Texan elected to the US House of Representatives is a former Confederate. The Texas Legislature also sent Oran Roberts, president of the Texas Secession Convention of 1861, to represent Texas in the US Senate. These acts of ex-Confederates strengthen a group of Republicans in congress, the Radical Republicans. The Radical Republicans want tougher requirements for the South to rejoin the Union. They also want to protect the rights of freedmen and reshape the Southern society. President Johnson did not want to give up Reconstruction though, so he vetoed them. However, the congressional elections gave the Radical Republicans two-thirds control of both houses of Congress.

Radical Reconstruction Begins

The Radical Republicans' made the Congressional Reconstruction plan which declares that the governments in the South are illegal. Congress divided the South into five military districts and put an army general in charge of each. Congress also requires many white Southerners to take what is called the Ironclad Oath. The oath pledges that the individual had not voluntarily served or helped the Confederacy.

Freedmen Get the Vote

The Freedmen's Bureau and an organization called the Union League helped register freedmen to vote. Nearly 50,000 freedmen have been registered. Some white men try to prevent freedmen, though. They join an organization called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The Klan uses violence and terror to try to block Reconstruction and prevent freedmen from voting, and since carpetbaggers and scalawags support Reconstruction, they also target them. The KKK is also guilty of almost stabbing Steve Crandell, a Republican organizer, to death. Sadly, Mr. Crandell couldn't take anyone to court because he did not know which KKK member had stabbed him. Suspected KKK leader, Tim Machin, denied knowing anything about Mr. Crandell or the stabbing.

Reconstruction Ends

Reconstruction officially ceased in March 1870. Many Southerners are still not happy though, because they believe that it won't end if the Republicans stay in power. After the Civil War, most freed people continued to live in rural areas. Many also continue to work for white landowners. In 1872, Democrats won a majority of the seats in the state legislature, so they immediately began to make changes and take back power.

By Jaimie Ren and Maya Clifton

Credits:

Created with images by stevepb - "newspaper news media" • kjarrett - "HARD HAT AREA" • dcandau - "lincoln memorial statue washington dc" • expertinfantry - "Hon. Andrew Johnson, Tenn. President, U.S." • jp26jp - "flag american united states" • Steve Snodgrass - "Congress" • hzv_westfalen_de - "usa flag american flag" • landrachuk - "vote sign voting" • tpsdave - "race aircraft sky"

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