Why Was the Reconstruction Era Ultimately a Failure? By: savannah Pettigrew

Intro and thesis: The Reconstruction Period period began in 1865 under Lincoln’s presidency, and was primarily a time dedicated to rebuilding the United States. Although black rights were established under the fourteenth amendment and the union was pieced back together, the reconstruction period was ultimately a failure due to the fact that it was forcibly imposed on the southern states by the government and, as a result, racial attitudes only worsened and racist white supremacy groups such as the KKK were formed.

Primary Source #1: Legacy

John Lewis


One of the most important parts of reconstruction was the active participation of African Americans socially, economically, and politically. The reconstruction era allowed for many African Americans to hold public office, from the local level all the way up to the US senate. Due to the policies and amendments enacted during the reconstruction era and following, African Americans still have active roles in major government positions. John Lewis, an African American politician and civil rights leader, was one of the “big six” leaders of groups who organized the March on Washington in 1963. John played an active role in African American freedom and equality in the years following reconstruction, and is currently the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. John still to this day, carries on the legacy of the fight for equality in our countries shameful past.

Primary Source #2: success


Along with the 14th Amendment, the enforcement acts also protected African American Rights. These bills were passed by the United States congress between 1870-1871. They protected African Americans’ right to vote, to hold office, to serve on juries, and receive equal protection of laws. In the picture above, a member of the Freedmen’s Bureau is standing between an angry mob of whites and a group of angry African Americans. Their job was to aid freedmen (free slaves) in the south and keep them protected under the enforcement acts.

Primary Source #3: Failures


The klu Klux Klan was formed in 1866 and became a leading group in white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s reconstruction- era policies who wanted to establish political and economic equality for blacks. Their primary goal was to reestablish white supremacy throughout the nation by carrying out violent acts towards blacks and other different religious groups. The Klu Klux Klan caused outbursts everywhere and added to the sense of white supremacy throughout the United States.

Conclusion: Although there were many positives to the Reconstruction period, the failures proved to outweigh them due to the racial tensions that were created and are still a part of society today. Another part of history that is similar to this period is the harsh treatment of Jews during the holocaust. Both period’s included racial tensions and outbursts throughout the country.

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