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What happened to freedmen after reconstruction came to an end?

Reconstruction ended in 1877 because of a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reasons, the end of Reconstruction also signaled an end to whatever forward progress blacks were going to make. The success of Reconstruction had been ineffective at best, now, with the Conservative Southern governments back in control of the South a downward spiral would begin.

I. The End of Reconstruction

A. Reconstruction began in 1865, how do you think Northerners felt about it by 1877?

1. Northerners were tired of reconstruction after twelve long years. In the beginning it had been a great social adventure. Many had been convinced that they were doing a very good, important thing. By 1877 many felt that they would never accomplish the social good that they sought to accomplish. The general feeling was that the the south might never really change.

2. Northerners were also increasingly upset at the fact that the northern military had to occupy the south. We wanted our soldiers home.

B. How do you think the Depression of 1873 affected Northern effort at Reconstruction?

1. The north could no longer afford the costs of reconstruction.

C. How did the scandals of the Grant administration affect the next election?

1. Ulysses S. Grant, the military hero of the Civil War had been swept into office after the Johnson Administration. Unfortunately his administration, as well as his personal life, were ripped with scandal. Grant, an alcoholic, was unable to police his own cabinet and scandals began to emerge.

In what became known as the Credit Mobilier scandal key Republican congressman and members of the administration had arranged for the Credit Mobilier holding company to received government land and money to build a railroad out west. In return these men received bribes. The railroad was never built and the scandal showed America how little control Grant actually had.

2. After eight years of the scandalous Grant administration and his rather uninspiring leadership the Republican party began to lose influence. The once hated Democrats again gained national recognition. One party rukle ended and two party rule returned.

D. How did the election of 1876 affect reconstruction?

1. In the election of 1876 Democrats realized they had an opportunity to regain political power and prestige, in fact many thought they had a good chance of winning the presidency with the right candidate. The Republicans ran Rutherford B. Hayes and the Democrats ran a New Yorker, Sam Tilden.

2. Tilden carried the popular vote by 250,000 votes. He also had a lead in the electoral vote 184 to 165. He needed 185 to win and 20 votes were in dispute. Tilden only needed one of the twenty votes to win. If Hayes received all twenty he would win

3. The fate of those 20 votes and the election were placed in the hands of a committee of 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats who ended up cutting a deal that gave Hayes the votes and the Presidency. Had the election been honest Tilden would have won.

a. The deal was that military forces had to leave those states thus ending reconstruction.

b. The federal government had to build a railroad from Texas to California , building money, waterway improvements and a conservative in the Cabinet were also part of the deal.

E. Once Conservative Democrats were back in control, what types of laws do you think they would pass?

1. Literacy Tests - The democrats passed voter qualification laws that mandated that a person had to read in order to vote. Most Blacks were asked to read the constitution. Considering that most had been slaves, and were uneducated, they could not pass the test. This took away the rights of blacks to vote.

2. Poll Taxes - The democrats passed voter qualification laws that mandated that a person had to pay a two dollar tax in order to vote. This was alot of money for a newly freed slave and most could not afford it.

3. Grandfather clause - The democrats passed voter qualification laws that mandated that a person could only vote if their grandfather had been eligible to vote and had been a citizen. Since most slaves' grandfathers had also been slaves they did not qualify to vote under these laws.

These laws were specifically designed to take away the political power of Blacks by taking away their right to vote granted in the 15th amendment. This is known as attempting to disenfranchise the Blacks. The word franchise means "the right to vote" (as does suffrage). To disenfranchise means "to take away the right to vote.

4. Jim Crow Laws - These were laws passed to separate Blacks from Whites. This process was known as segregation. Jim Crow laws created separate facilities throughout the south for Blacks and Whites.

a. The creation of segregation by law is called de jure segregation (segregation by law).

b. The other type of segregation that existed in the south was called de facto segregation, or segregation by the fact that it exists. Socially, not legally sanctioned.

Clearly reconstruction had not met the goal of bringing about racial equality.


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