After the Civil War that ended in 1865, the situation in the US has greatly changed, as the Southern states got an opportunity to come back (Oakes et al. 621). Realizing that the country needs rehabilitation after the war, President Lincoln and Republicans started to implement changes aimed to keep the nation together, improve infrastructure and supply people with basic needs. Trying to rebuild the South, they started the Reconstruction, which faced a range of problems.
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Republicans started punitive actions targeted at the Southern states for the war. As Johnson became a president, the Reconstruction altered. Being a Southerner, Johnson rejected Republicans’ wish to punish the states. He thought that they had a right to be rather independent as they respect the 13th Amendment. Johnson followed the Lincoln’s 10 percent plan that was rather loyal. He recognized the state governments and pardoned the rebels, which Republicans considered inadmissible.
It was rather hard to implement the Reconstruction, as the Congress and presidents had different views on the situation and saw different ways of reaching the goal. Thus, ones were performing alterations, and others abolished them. Milling the wind, a lot of time and effort was wasted. Moreover, being under the pressure and not willing to yield, many southerners rejected changes and created organizations that threatened ex-slaves and were against the equality.
These were the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camelia and others. In Maryland, citizens neglected the laws and tried to nullify the freedom gained by the slaves (“Maryland Lighthouse Keeper to a Baltimore Judge” par. 2). Apart from this, the freedmen also faced economic problems. They could not get another job having no education and skills except for those in farming. Thus, ex-slaves occurred to be poor and lacked clothing, food, etc. (“Testimony of a South Carolina Freedman” par. 18). Even when they became free, these people remained subservient to whites.
The freedmen had no place to go, and they continued working on the plantations that belonged to the whites as sharecroppers. The landowners could not afford to hire the workers, so they agreed to share the harvest. Very often they referred to the crop-lien system, according to which, the freedmen got a line on the crop and held it. As the product was sold, the landowner was the first to get the money. As a rule, such system was adopted by cotton farmers. Gaining profit in this way, the freedmen wanted to save enough money to become independent. Unfortunately, their aspirations were rarely met due to the problems entailed from the time they were slaves.
Fighting with the presidents regarding their views and actions, the Republicans nominated their candidate, Hayes, for the election in 1876, hoping that he would appeal to the voters. Still, he occurred to be not able to win, dealing with Tilden, the representative of Democrats. This election is said to be the most controversial one, as there were the disputed votes that influenced the results. Continuous disputed were resolved with the help of Electoral Commission. The Democrats promised to accept Hayes if the Republicans would agree to their demands. This Compromise of 1877 resolved the issue and made the Republicans gives up on Reconstruction.
As the Reconstruction ended, it occurred to be clear that this process gathered the country and destroyed the Confederacy. The slavery was abolished, which allowed African Americans become equal to European Americans in all major spheres. People became the unity; they improved educational and working conditions as well as living ones. Of course, this process took many years, but Reconstruction was the first step that allowed the US become what they are today.
Oakes, James, Michael McGerr, Jan Lewis, Nick Cullather, Jeanne Boydston, Mark Summers and Camilla Townsend. Of the People, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Testimony of a South Carolina Freedman. n.d. Web.