Reconstruction is defined as the time period which took place immediately after the conclusion of the civil war, in which congress attempted to transform and reconstruct Southern society. The main goal of reconstruction was to gain constitutional and social equality for African-Americans. However, transforming former confederate slave owners to people accepting of equality for African-Americans proved difficult. So to what extent did these social factors affect the success or failure of the Reconstruction era? Social Factors in fact played a key role in the successes and failures of the reconstruction era, because African-Americans were able to vote, but they continued to be treated as not equal to Whites in Southern communities
One major success of reconstruction was the establishment of the right to vote for all men, even African-Americans. Although women were still not able to vote, this represented major progress for social equality for all African-Americans. White people were forced to accept the rights of African-Americans to participate in politics, and some began to actually hold political power.
"The Union as it was" By Thomas Nast. Despite the fact that African-Americans had been proclaimed free and equal under the law as Whites in the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, many Whites still did not view African-Americans as equals. As this cartoon demonstrates, groups such as the White League and the Klu Klux Klan continued tormenting African-Americans. In his cartoon, Nast portrays that Reconstruction was a failure, because the social status and treatment of African-Americans in the south was just as bad as before the civil war.
"Congress-14th amendment 2nd section" By Edward Windsor Kemble. This cartoon represents the failure to strictly enforce the 14th amendment of the constitution, which states that No state shall "deprive any person of life liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." In his cartoon, Kemble stipulates that congress has not done enough to actually enforce the 14th amendment. Congress's failure to enforce the amendment caused local laws in the South enforcing racial segregation and a "seperate but equal" policy known as Jim Crow laws. This cartoon highlights the main legacy of reconstruction: the failure to enforce the amendments passed after the war to make African-Americans and Whites equal politically and socially.
Social Factors affected the success and failure of reconstruction because it's success was largely based on the acceptance of African-Americans by Southern Whites. The oftentimes unequal treatment of African-Americans can be compared to the treatment of African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's. Although African-Americans were equal under the law and had the same political rights, they were not treated as equals by Whites in both time periods.