Throughout the history of the world, there have been many failures. Examples of failures in history would be the Articles of Confederation, post-Civil War Reconstruction, and the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. However, with each different failure in history, there are different reasons for why these failures occurred. Following the Civil War, there are many different reasons why Congress’ Reconstruction efforts to ensure equal rights to the freedmen failed.
The main reason why Reconstruction failed was because of the discriminatory feelings toward the African Americans. Two examples that support this reason are the corruption within the government and the different actions taken by various rebellion groups. Between the years of 1865 and 1877, Congress’ efforts to end slavery and to ensure that equal rights were provided for everyone showed that it ultimately failed. One reason why Reconstruction after the Civil War failed was because there was corruption within the government.
Boyer, a Pennsylvanian Congressman who despised blacks, said that he believes that the reason why black people should be denied the right to vote is because African Americans are not equal to white Americans and that they do not have the mental capacity to vote. This statement by Boyer suggests that racism towards African Americans was abundant in both the South and the North (Doc 1). Because of this feeling of resentment towards African Americans, especially in the government, there was a lot of corruption within it. An example of this was the effects of the Freedman’s Bureau.
The main purpose of the Freedmen’s Bureau was to provide the freed slaves with a home and give them proper education. Unfortunately, the Freedman’s Bureau ultimately failed because of Southern legislatures passing Black Codes. These Black Codes were essentially designed to keep African Americans in submission and take a slave like role. They prevented African Americans from serving on a jury, prevented them from purchasing land, and placed African Americans into a form of bondage by forcing them to sign work contracts.
Another example of how there was a lot of corruption within the government was when all whites were allowed to vote again. When the whites in the South recovered suffrage, they desired revenge against the Republicans. This endeavor for revenge manifested itself into radical Democrats voting some of the Reconstruction state governments out of office. As a result, the white Southerners used their political power to deny the freedmen the right to vote (Doc 3). Because of this, the Congressional Republicans became critically weak and the policy and ideas of Reconstruction began to slip away (Doc 5).
These two events within the government extremely contributed to Reconstruction’s failure. Another reason why Reconstruction failed was because of various rebellion groups. One group that opposed Reconstruction was the White League. In the South, Southerners wanted to form White Leagues “in every town, village and hamlet of the South” in order to resist Congress’s Reconstruction efforts through brute force (Doc 4). Examples of how the White League used brute force to resist Reconstruction was by intimidating others and removing radical Republicans out of office.
Another group that opposed Reconstruction was the infamous Ku Klux Klan. Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, an ex-Confederate general, founded the Ku Klux Klan, also known as the “Invisible Empire of the South” or simply “KKK,” in order to undermine the radical Reconstruction efforts by intimidating the freed slaves into not utilizing their right to vote (Doc 2). Examples of how the Ku Klux Klan intimidated African Americans was by burning black-owned buildings, giving them floggings, and other various acts of violence. The formation of these two rebellion groups resulted in the Reconstruction’s failure.
Throughout the era of Reconstruction, Congress’ efforts to help the freedmen gain equality essentially failed. One reason why Reconstruction failed was because there was corruption within the government. Corruption began as a result of racial bigotry towards African Americans. For example, when the Freedman’s Bureau was passed, Black Codes were set in place by Southern legislatures so that the rights of African Americans were limited and when white Southerners regained the right to vote, they were able to vote out some of the Reconstruction state governments out of office, which led to a weakened Reconstruction policy.
Another reason why reconstruction failed was because of various rebellion groups during this period. For example, the White League and the Ku Klux Klan both used force in order to delay Reconstruction. As a result of all of these events, some people started to wonder if going though a civil war was worth it because African Americans were living almost the exact same life as before the war ended; a life under hardships and racial discrimination.
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