A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 23: “The Ordeal of Reconstruction”
~ 1865 – 1877 ~
The Problems of Peace
After the war, there were many questions over what to do with the free Blacks, how to
reintegrate the Southern states into the Union, what to do with
, and who
would be in charge of
The Southern way of life was ruined, as crops and farms were destroyed, the slaves were now
free, and the cities were bombed out, but still, some Southerners remained defiant.
Freedmen Define Freedom
At first, the freed Blacks faced a confusing situation, as many slave owners re-enslaved their
slaves over and over again after Union troops left.
Other planters resisted emancipation through legal means, citing that emancipation
wasn’t valid until local or state courts declared it.
Some slaves loyally stuck to their owners while others let out their pen-up bitterness
in their freedom, pillaging their former masters’ land, property, and even whipping
Eventually, even resisting plantation owners had to give up their slaves, and afterwards tens of
thousands of Blacks took to the roads to find new work or look for lost loved ones.
The church became to the focus of the Black community life in the years following the war.
Emancipation also meant education for Blacks, but despite all the gains Blacks made, they still
faced severe discrimination and would have to wait a century before attaining their rights.
The Freedman’s Bureau
In order to train the unskilled and unlettered freed Blacks, the
was set up
on March 3, 1865; Union General
Oliver O. Howard
The bureau taught about 200,000 Blacks how to read, since most former slaves wanted to
narrow the literary gap between them and Whites and also read the word of God.
However, it wasn’t as effective as it could have been, as evidenced by the further
discrimination of Blacks, and it expired in 1872 after much criticism by racist Whites.
Johnson: The Tailor President
came from very poor and humble beginnings, and he served in Congress for
many years (he was the only Confederate Congressman not to leave Congress when the rest of
the South seceded).
Feared for his reputation of having a short temper and being a great fighter, but he was a
dogmatic champion of states’ rights and the Constitution, and he was a Tennessean who never
earned the trust of the North and never regained the confidence of the South.
believed that the South had never legally withdrawn from the Union,
restoration was to be relatively simple: the southern states could be reintegrated into the Union
if and when they had 10% of its voters pledge an oath to the Union and also acknowledge the
emancipation of the slaves; it was called the
Ten Percent Plan