13-08g - XIII. Reconstruction: Achievements and Failures...

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XIII. Reconstruction: Achievements and Failures Overview of the Period The achievements of Reconstruction were mostly counterbalanced by the failures. African Americans scored modest gains in building community organizations such as churches and schools, and in gaining some measure of personal dignity. But in their basic attitudes towards Black people as human beings, most White southerners remained unreconstructed rebels. Their counterparts in the North were not much better. The old prewar white prejudices resurfaced, and many northern whites came to sympathize with southern prejudices. Growing tired of civil rights enforcement, federal troops were gradually withdrawn, local terroristic violence increased, and many of the achievements of Reconstruction were lost. For many years, historians attributed the failures of Reconstruction to Black inferiority, rather than to the racism of American society. Black Politics During Reconstruction As a result of the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 constitutional conventions were held in 1867 and 1868 throughout the South in the newly-readmitted states. Although significant numbers of African Americans were elected for the first time, white politicians were in the majority in all of the southern states. These new state governments provided for universal male suffrage regardless of race, and provided for extensive civil rights guarantees. They also provided for extensive education and social services such as orphanages, homes for the mentally handicapped, and increased access to government that benefited poor white as well as poor black southerners. Most former Confederate leaders boycotted these elections and intimidated any whites who participated, as being traitorous “scalywags.” African Americans were elected to local offices such as sheriff and city councilman, to the state legislatures, and to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate. Although White Republicans joined their black colleagues in supporting social and economic benefits,
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they often opposed the efforts of Black politicians to break down segregation in public places. Many Whites, even those who supported Black political participation, claimed that if people mingled together on trolley cars
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course HS 101 taught by Professor Jones during the Summer '10 term at Montgomery College.

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13-08g - XIII. Reconstruction: Achievements and Failures...

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