How so? Republicans negotiated with the Democrats, agreeing to recognize Democratic control of the South and refrain from future federal interference in southern affairs. Democrats promised to respect black rights and not dispute Hayes’ right to office. This became known as the Bargain of 1877. How did it play out? Hayes quickly ordered federal troops to stand down, which allowed Democrats in Louisiana and South Carolina to occupy the state governments there. Significantly, the triumphant southern Democrats failed to live up to their pledge to recognize blacks as equal citizens
Was Reconstruction a failure? Check out the Thomas Nast 1876 cartoon to the left, titled, Is This a Republican Form of Government? It illustrated that the United States was not prepared to live up to its democratic ideals. The answer is not clear … Reconstruction governments did not try to promote economic prosperity through land distribution, as many blacks had once hoped, but rather tried by developing railroads, which they hoped would spur industrialization, urbanization, and diversified agriculture. Every southern state tried to finance railroad construction and attract industry through tax and subsidy policies, but a revitalized southern economy failed to take shape. The bad … A distinct period in which Republicans controlled much of the South, blacks held some political power, and the federal government protected the basic rights of all American citizens came to an end in 1877. Only a century later, in the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, would the federal government finally act to secure the rights of all, regardless of race. The good … BUT Radical Reconstruction transformed the South by empowering poor whites, northern migrants, and former slaves. The push back against it was extreme because progress had been made. AND Reconstruction, defined as America’s adjustment to the end of slavery, continued long after 1877. Blacks still voted and, in some states, held office well into the 1890s.
Review Questions 1. What visions of freedom did the former slaves and slaveholders pursue in the postwar South? 2. What were the sources, goals, and competing visions of Reconstruction? 3. What were the social and political effects of Radical Reconstruction in the South? 4. What were the main factors, in both the North and the South, for the abandonment of Reconstruction? This lecture is from material provided by Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty
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- Test, American Civil War, Southern United States, Ulysses S. Grant, Reconstruction era of the United States