Reconstruction: The era of misperception TO what extent was the effects of reconstruction PERCEIVED by the american population?

The era of reconstruction was during the years following the end of the Civil War; this was a time which African Americans and minorities saw an increase in many rights through political action such as the reconstruction act and the 14th and 15th amendment. Although we now see the successes of reconstruction during and after this era it was perceived that reconstruction was a complete failure and that during this era the African Americans saw no true increase in rights with the exception of the abolition of slavery. This misperception occurred due to the fact that those who wrote history and controlled the media were wealthy white males who were against the advancements of African American rights. Therefore, throughout this time much of the hopes for a reality of equality seemed to be crushed despite an actual advancement in rights and civil equality for the African american people.

Cartoon showing African Americans exercising the 15th amendment
The 15th Amendment

Despite Reconstruction being seen to only have failures in advancing black rights, many successes occurred during this era. One example of a success in the advancement in black rights was the 15th amendment which declared 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." This amendment established that no one could be denied voting rights based on their race and therefore African Americans were given the right to vote. This was a large step for the advancement of African American rights because it gave an equal say in the government to the African American. Therefore this sparked a sense of hope for equality within the African American society and proved to be a success.

Political cartoon displaying an African American man being stepped on by 3 white males

The era of Reconstruction saw many failures due to violent actions by those who opposed the advancement of black rights. This political cartoon is highlights some of this failure because the 3 men who are standing on the African American man are enabling him from reaching the ballet box which is used to vote. This symbolizes how blacks rights were limited by groups depicted in this image such as the KKK and the radical democrats. As seen in the hands of the criminals they have vote and capital which were other ways which those who opposed the advancement of black rights could limit them. Therefore although politically many laws were passed which granted African Americans more rights; these new rights were overshadowed by those who opposed the advancement of their rights because they held more wealth and power within the society and could getaway with limiting their rights through violence and other actions

A sign indicating a seperate waiting room for "colored" people

The era of reconstruction had a large impact on the restriction of black rights throughout history. During the era of reconstruction Black codes were instituted which stated that "That negroes and their issue, even where one ancestor in each succeeding generation to the fourth inclusive is white, shall be deemed persons of color." (Sec. 1) This led to the segregation of american society into the "whites" and "colored", which would last until the end of the civil rights movement. These black codes created during reconstruction eventually turned into Jim Crow laws which allowed the mistreatment of people of "color". Results of these laws included seperate bathrooms, water fountains, and waiting rooms which were indicated by signs such as from the image above. Therefore, the era of reconstruction had a negative legacy in the advancement of black rights as a result was the segregation of whites and colored.

Despite the era of reconstruction being known as a complete failure, it saw some successes in the advancement of black rights. However, these successes were hidden for much of history because the historians during this time were wealthy white males who often were against the advancement of african american rights; therefore, these historians would not write about the successes in advancing african american rights. The hiding of these successes is common in the original history of the colonization of America. They are similar in that because the historians of the colonizing of america were the white columnists themselves they often did not write about their mistreatment of the native americans and instead wrote about themselves being victims to native american attacks and that was the reason for their attacking of the natives. Therefore just as the mistreatment of the natives was hidden for much of history because the historians were those who committed the action; the successes in the advancment of black rights was hidden by the historians who opposed black rights.

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