After the end of the civil war, the purpose of the war shifted to become more about states rights. Slavery was trying to be ignored. Postwar, the south was treated abnormally nicely by the north. They were eventually still allowed to participate in political office and maintained their land and partial voting rights. They had few restrictions on how to treat blacks and rights of African Americans. In general there was not a focus on punishing the south but reuniting the states. This changed the general acceptance of the outcome of the war based on the south's point of view. The southern view of states rights and maintaining their economy affected the acceptance of the end of the civil war through arguments of the purpose of the war.
Success: "Blanche Bruce's speech before the U.S. Senate"
As reconstruction continued, rights for blacks began to expand. Amendments were ratified giving them equal rights and citizenship. As they expanded, the right for a colored man to hold political office was granted to African Americans. Blanche Bruce was the first elected black senator to serve a full term. He represented Mississippi as a Republican. In March 1876 Bruce gave a speech in front of the Senate and called for help on the civil rights of African Americans in Mississippi. He wanted to make sure that all Mississippi residents, regardless of race, could exercise their constitutional rights. This speech exemplifies the success of the reconstruction era and how it increased the rights and freedoms for freed slaves. His speech not only shows those freedoms but also exhibits how they can be used to serve a greater purpose, to call more attention to certain issues from personal experience. Overall, Bruce’s speech shows the new freedoms of blacks being exercised but also how these rights are fulfilling a greater purpose.
Failure: KKK political cartoon
This political cartoon shows the downfall of reconstruction. Violent racial groups began to emerge in response to the increasing civil rights for former slaves. For example, the KKK was against African Americans. They also tortured carpetbaggers and other republican southerners. As these groups grew in size, so did their violent actions towards former slaves. African Americans were being hazed, tormented, and even murdered. African Americans were getting their rights stolen from them and were living in fear of harassment from these racial groups. There were hardly any actions taken upon these groups to limit their violence. Through this source it is evident that the southern democrat ideals were against blacks gaining equality and equal rights so they took violent actions to try to stop them from gaining those freedoms. They wanted to continue to use the freedmen’s bureau and prevent laws preventing them from cheap labor in order to maintain their economy.
Legacy: The 14th Amendment
The 14th amendment of the united states exemplifies the legacy of reconstruction. The fourteenth amendment granted rights of citizenship and the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and property to African Americans. It assured the protection of these rights by making all state laws that could take away from these rights were unconstitutional. This is a legacy of the reconstruction since these rights are still granted today. It was successful giving these rights to blacks by giving them greater freedoms to contribute to the country through different politicians, artists, poets, etc. These rights still benefit us today by having our first black president and breaking a racial barrier to further expand the ideals of equality between whites and blacks.
Overall, reconstruction had both successes and failures. It broke racial barriers with equality and full citizenship to blacks. This also caused tension between the two races with violent racial groups. Despite the violence that occurred in response to black civil rights, there were many benefits. Blacks began being able to hold political office and used their position to raise awareness against groups like the KKK and found success in sharing violent stories through their experience as slaves. The reconstruction also built a strong foundation for racial equality that is continued today. With this strong foundation racial barriers are continuing to break and equality is increasing. Like Blanche Bruce, the first politician, currently there is the first African American president in office. They both broke down racial barriers and used it to raise awareness and show different political perspectives. This continues to show the legacy of reconstruction and how the freedoms granted through the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment have allowed great success in African Americans.