Reconstruction - Reconstruction Addendum to Waltons IB...

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Reconstruction Addendum to Walton’s IB Reconstruction Notes of 2005 Reference: Paterson, D. and Willoughby, D. and S. Civil Rights in the USA, 1863-1980 . Oxford, U.K.: Heinemann Educational Publishers, 2001, Reconstruction (1865-1877) was the attempt by the federal government to re-establish the defeated Southern states back into the Union. This was a time period where federal troops occupied much of the South to ensure Southern compliance with new federal laws granting civil rights to emancipated slaves. In fact, some see this period as the advent of the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, many Southern whites resented what they deemed as “federal intrusion” on the rights of the states. They argued that the Constitution gave the federal government no right to control certain state functions such as elections. Interpretations of Reconstruction In the early 20 th Century, most historians focused on the achievements of Lincoln and Johnson. They claimed that the South was “submissive” and was willing to accept the policies put forth by the federal government, especially under the presidency of Andrew Johnson. The problem, according to these historians, was the fact that radical Republicans, intent on punishing the South by imposing new Civil Rights initiatives in Congress, undermined Johnson’s efforts (hence the Impeachment Trial of Johnson, which he won by only one vote). Make sure you review the differences in Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction in last year’s notes. This interpretation dominated much of the thinking about Reconstruction until the 1950s. Interestingly, in the first half of the 20 th Century black writers such as W. E. B. DuBois praised the radical Republicans in Congress. He argued that whites could not “conceive Negroes as men” and therefore understood the need for such legislation. Obviously, historians like DuBois were in the minority during this time period. The emergence of the modern Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s forced historians to rethink the impact of Reconstruction. Some cynicism was not lost on these historians as they recognized that much of the impetus of Reconstruction was to solidify Republican strength in the South and to weaken the Democrat planter class. Regardless,

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