The American Civil War was fought in an attempt by the north to keep the Union united after the south had split and created the Confederacy. The south split from the Union in order to protect the institution of slavery and their way of life. However, after the north won the war and prevented the south from splitting from the Union, why did the south view themselves as the victims to the war?
The 13th Amendment was a very successful document during the Reconstruction time period because it gave freedom to slaves in the south and lead to African Americans slowly gaining more social and political rights. However, it victimized southerners due to forcing them to release their slaves. The south resented the 13th Amendment because it ruined their way of life by losing their slaves, and with them, their wealth and power, disregarding the opinion of southerners in order to keep the Union together, leading to resentful southerners.
White supremacist groups in a cartoon shown terrorizing African Americans
However, the Reconstruction era was not full of success. After losing their slaves, southerners felt the needed to keep a piece of the power over African Americans, which lead to white supremacist groups and the black codes. Groups such as the KKK and the White League rose shortly following the Civil War in order to terrorize and torture former slaves. This allowed former slave owners to maintain a piece of their lifestyle, which they felt was stolen from them. In addition, the government did little to protect former slaves as even cops in the south felt resentment towards African Americans. Blade codes also arose to discriminate against former slaves in the south and find loopholes through the 13th Amendment in order to keep slavery. The Reconstruction era failed to give African Americans protection from white supremacist groups and from state laws such as the black codes that allowed slavery to continue after the implementation of the 13th amendment.
Civil rights movement to end discrimination
A legacy of the Reconstruction time period was the creation of discrimination institutions, such as different drinking fountains and different schools for African Americans and whites. The south, after losing slavery, wanted to keep African Americans as lesser than whites and created ways to separate them through the use of color discriminatory institutions, often with worse conditions. The south created institutions that, while not enslaving African Americans, gave them lesser conditions to allow southerners to feel superior, remaining as a legacy of the Reconstruction era throughout the 19th and mid-20th century.
Ultimately, the south felt as victims to the Civil War do to having the north strip away their wealth and power by abolishing slavery, leading to a resentful south that attempted to thwart Reconstruction policies through white supremacist groups, black codes, and discriminatory institutions. The south during the Reconstruction felt similar to the colonies shortly before the Revolutionary War, attempting to go and keep themselves independent, similar to American colonists that disliked British policies, and resorted to actions such as the Boston Tea Party. The south's discriminatory practices would become a legacy of the Reconstruction era and would continue until the Civil Rights Movement in the mid 19th century.