Bestselling New England United States History in 2020
A History of the United States: Volume One: A New World 1607-1677
New England's General Stores: Exploring an American Classic
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Of Plymouth Plantation (Dover Value Editions)
Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit
- SIMON SCHUSTER
A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge)
A Year By The Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman
- Great product!
From Darkness to Dynasty: The First 40 Years of the New England Patriots
The Alice Network: A Novel
Red Sox Triviology: Fascinating Facts from the Bleacher Seats
- Red Sox Triviology Fascinating Facts from the Bleacher Seats
New England Skiing (NH) (Images of America)
- Arcadia Publishing
The Mayflower: The Families, the Voyage, and the Founding of America
- St Martin s Press
Thirty-Eight: The Hurricane That Transformed New England
AP US History Reconstruction Essay
To what extent was Reconstruction successful? Analyze its political, social, and economic accomplishments as well as its failures. This essay earned me an 8 in my AP US History class.
Normally in the political sphere Reconstruction would have been aided by able leaders, but form the beginning there was a clash of ideals. Lincoln's 10% plan, later adopted by Johnson, would allow seceded states to swiftly rejoin the union after 10% of voters had sworn an oath of allegiance. While this pleased moderates, Radical Republicans in Congress, led partly by an unlikeable Thaddeus Stevens, demanded a harsher penance for the planter aristocracy and instead demanded a 50% plan, in the form of the Wade-Davis Bill. What followed was a poor demonstration of leadership that showcased Andrew Johnson clashing against a Republican Majority in congress, eventually leading to his self-debasing "swing 'round the circle campaign" and a veto-proof congress. Based on the Tenure of Office Act, among other claims of misdemeanor in office, congress impeached Johnson, his removal from office saved by the single vote of Edmund G. Ross.
This weak political leadership meant that while the 13th amendment, guaranteeing free blacks, the 14th amendment, giving blacks citizenship, and the 15th amendment, giving blacks voting rights, were all passed, there was no central figure to help enforce it. While the Radical Congress imposed Redeemer Governments in the South enforced by federal troops, there were little to no repercussions if the acts were ignored.
Socially, Reconstruction was responsible for creating a permanent grudge between the North and the South. The Freedmen's Bureau, the nation's first welfare agency, was designed to give aid and education to newly freed blacks. In addition, the 13-15th amendments supposedly granted "freedmen" a host of social and political freedoms. However, due to weak Northern policy, Southern grudges were allowed to ferment in the form of black codes, which forced blacks to largely the same subservient status as before the Civil War, and in the form of white supremacy groups such as the KKK.
Effectively free blacks had their freedoms but they had little freedom to exercise them. Tensions between blacks and whites also manifested in poll taxes, meant to keep sharecroppers from affording to vote, and faulty literacy tests. Ultimately the South felt wronged by the actions of the North and many Southerners remained adamant that secession had been the right choice. This bitterness between the two regions would lead even to locking newly elected Southerners out of Congress as well as a host of other mistrusts.
Economically there was even further separation between the North and South, with the Southern economy destroyed and the Northern economy flourishing. Rampant destruction by Union troops, such as the bending of railroad ties and burning of towns on Sherman's March to Atlanta, paralyzed the South. What was once a thriving kingdom was by Reconstruction a decimated wasteland where transport and agriculture was all but impossible. Despite the Freedmen's Bureau, free blacks received little land and they remained in much of the same economic condition as before the war. However, the one success was the system of education that allowed schools and teachers to make in impact.
In the North the first "shoddy millionaires" had made their fortunes selling cheap supplies to armies and draft jumpers profited handsomely. Because so little of the war was fought in the North, it was able to carry on much of the same manufacturing as before and therefore, Northern economy prospered while the Southern economy, proper up by a repudiated debt, was decimated. While people suffered, carpetbaggers and scallywags set aside government money for private purposes.
In conclusion, Reconstruction was successful only in the aspect that there have in fact been no Civil Wars since. As for many other aspects though, it created a deep divide between North and South, blacks and whites, and failed to heal many of the wounds that had split the Union. Politically it proved that legislation could be passed to ensure rights, but that without good leadership it was all but useless. Socially Reconstruction gave education to thousands of freed blacks but it also enflamed tensions between blacks and whites. Economically, the South was ravaged while the North prospered, and blacks ended up not much farther from where they started from. While the 13-15th amendments guaranteed all kinds of rights, it would take decades before the effects would be fully realized.