The Civil War and Reconstruction

The Civil War and Reconstruction - masters caught in a...

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The Civil War and Reconstruction Lincoln’s leadership and end of slavery Historians have tended to judge Reconstruction harshly, as a murky period of political  conflict, corruption, and regression that failed to achieve its original high-minded goals  and collapsed into a sinkhole of virulent racism. Slaves were granted freedom, but the  North completely failed to address their economic needs. The Freedmen’s Bureau was  unable to provide former slaves with political and economic opportunity. Union military  occupiers often could not even protect them from violence and intimidation. Indeed,  federal army officers and agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau were often racists  themselves. Without economic resources of their own, many Southern African  Americans were forced to become tenant farmers on land owned by their former 
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Unformatted text preview: masters, caught in a cycle of poverty that would continue well into the 20th century. Reconstruction-era governments did make genuine gains in rebuilding Southern states devastated by the war, and in expanding public services, notably in establishing tax-supported, free public schools for African Americans and whites. However, recalcitrant Southerners seized upon instances of corruption (hardly unique to the South in this era) and exploited them to bring down radical regimes. The failure of Reconstruction meant that the struggle of African Americans for equality and freedom was deferred until the 20th century – when it would become a national, not just a Southern issue....
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