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Scalawags were southern-born white Republicans.Some scalawags were wealthy, like James Alcorn, a Mississippi planter.Most scalawags had been up-country non-slaveholders before the Civil War and some had been Unionists during the war.Southern Republicans in PowerSouthern Republican governments established the South's first stats-supported public schools.The new governments also pioneered civil rights legislation.Republican governments took steps to strengthen the position of rural laborers and to promote the South's economic recovery.The Quest for ProsperityDuring Reconstruction, every state helped to finance railroad construction.Investment opportunities in the West lured more northern investors than southern investors, and economic development remained weak in the South.The Overthrow of ReconstructionReconstruction's OpponentsCorruption did exist during Reconstruction, but it was not confined to a race, region, or party.Opponents could not accept the idea of former slaves voting, holding office, and enjoying equality before the law."A Reign of Terror"Secret societies sprang up in the South with the aim of preventing blacks from voting and destroying the organization of the Republican Party.The Ku Klux Klan was organized in 1866.The KKK launched what one victim called a "reign of terror" against Republican leaders, black and white.An example of a KKK attack was the Colfax, Louisiana massacre in 1873.Congress and President Grant, with the passage of three Enforcement Acts in 1870 and 1871, put an end to the Ku Klux Klan by 1872.The Liberal RepublicansThe North's commitment to Reconstruction waned during the 1870s.Some Republicans, alienated from Grant by corruption in his administration, formed the Liberal Republican Party.Horace Greeley.The North's RetreatThe Liberal attack on Reconstruction contributed to a resurgence of racism in the North.The 1873 depression also distracted the North from Reconstruction.The Supreme Court whittled away at Congress's guarantees of black rights with cases such as theSlaughterhouse Casesof 1873 and United States v. Cruikshankin 1876.The Triumph of the RedeemersRedeemers claimed to have "redeemed" the white South from corruption, misgovernment, and northern and black control.The Disputed Election and Bargain of 1877
The election between Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) and Samuel Tilden (Democrat) was very close, with disputed electoral votes from Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina.Congress set up a special Electoral Commission to determine the winner of the disputed votes.Behind the scenes, Hayes made a bargain to allow southern white Democrats to control the South if his election was accepted.The compromise led to Hayes's election and the Democrats' having a free hand in the South.The End of ReconstructionReconstruction ended in 1877.It would be nearly a century before the nation again tried to bring equal rights to the descendants of slaves.