Reconstruction and Race Relations
Contemporary U.S. History
October 17, 2013
Reconstruction and Race Relations
The Civil War consisted of several events during the Reconstruction period. Many complications occurred between white Americans and black people as the struggle for equality began. Prior to the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The Wade-Davis Bill was proposed by Congress to counter Lincoln’s 10 percent rule for support. The Wade-Davis Bill suggested that 51 percent of voters pledge support to the United States before being accepted back into the Union. Lincoln pocket-vetoed this ...view middle of the document...
Many African American moved north to escape the oppressive treatment of the white Southerners.
The newly formed southern state governments were overwhelmingly staffed by ousted Confederate leaders. These Southern leader all passed laws to discriminate against the freed blacks called the “black codes”. These codes allowed the Southern whites to discriminate against the blacks by giving the whites nearly unlimited power. The institution of these codes caused the African Americans to revolt causing race riots from Memphis, Tennessee to New Orleans, Louisiana. During this time the Ku Klux Klan was formed by six former Confederate soldiers that were against black freedom. The Ku Klux Klan (also known as the KKK) would terrorize Southern black town by burning black churches and sometime even killing blacks by beating or hanging. Ku Klux Klan members would wear white masks to hide their identities. This group ended up being protected by the leadership of the Southern states (A History of US, 2003 pg. 19, 20).
In 1866, President Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act that was proposed by Congress and the Radical Republicans led by Thaddeus Stevens who was an outspoken advocate of integration in the south. Stevens detested Johnson and Johnson called Stevens a traitor. Stevens called for Johnson to be impeached after he pointed out that the Constitution included this process. Stevens believed that Johnson took advantage of his office by committing crimes such as bribery and other high crimes. For the first time ever, Congress overrode Johnsons veto in a historic move destroying the Black Codes that were instilled in the South as law. (Clark, J. F. (2006). pg. 2.). This began the era known as the Congressional Reconstrution which meant Congress held more power than the president. The Fourteenth Amendment was then ratified ensuring all persons born or naturalized in the United States would be given equal protection under the law. This granted black people full citizenship. Tennessee was the only state to ratify this new amendment and was accepted back into the union as the remaining southern states did not. Then in 1868 Republicans drafted the Fifteenth Amendment which prohibited any state from denying citizens the right to vote. Under strong opposition, freed black slaves of the South began to organize and cast ballots for Republican politicians. Northern soldiers that were stationed in the south would ensure that black men were able to vote because still many white Southerners tried to block voting of blacks. With the addition of voter’s rights, Black Americans then began to hold office although rarely to high positions. Many of the Southern offices were white Republicans that had moved South after the war. These men were called “carpetbaggers” because they moved South with merely a ratty old carpetbag. The carpetbaggers that weren’t on another agenda came south to help improve the American black people. Conversely,...