Union Failures During Reconstruction

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mo
I stopped reading about the Civil War at Appomattox. It wasn't until I joined this forum that I realized how important the next 100 years of American history was. Now I am reading about reconstruction and Jim Crow and it is blowing my mind. Much more interesting than the Civil War, in my humble opinion.
I agree, its rather odd how its discussed, and then usually the only mention of failure is when it ends in the 1870's, some even seem to suggest it was the souths fault it failed, which is rather bizarre. If a policy fails because it doesn't have the support of the people being governed, would think a large part of the responsibility would have to go to those who pursued a policy that didn't have support.

It seems to me any viable plan needed to go for the support of the former confederates as Lincoln envisioned
 

uaskme

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South is blamed for everything. Part of Yankee Nationalism.

Lincoln pocketed the Wade-Davis Bill. He would of tried to form a new political party which consisted of conservative Unionist. He agreed to having Johnson as his VP. Hamlin was a Abolitionist. Radicals had a different plan. They wanted to reconstruct the South socially, as well as economically and politically. Lincoln didn’t appear to have any wish for reconstruction to be for socially Equality. He agreed to give Negroes legal equality.
 

DanSBHawk

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few talks on reconstruction not focus on the Union failures that made it a convoluted mess, and that left an enduring legacy of racism and sectionalism?
I'm not sure what talks you're referring to but it seems to me there is a lot of blaming the Union or the North for every perceived failure the South experienced for 80 years after the war. Everything was the North's fault if you listen to some people.
 
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I'm not sure what talks you're referring to but it seems to me there is a lot of blaming the Union or the North for every perceived failure the South experienced for 80 years after the war. Everything was the North's fault if you listen to some people.
Thank you, chalked you up as one of the rare ones blaming the north

Since you say perceived failure, assume you view reconstruction a success once they dropped the military occupation.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Thank you, chalked you up as one of the rare ones blaming the north

Since you say perceived failure, assume you view reconstruction a success once they dropped the military occupation.
No, I think there were many failures in the South, during and after reconstruction. But it seems to me the South is always blaming someone else, carpet-baggers, etc.

One poster repeatedly shows a photo of Depression-era southern children and blames the north for their condition, as if children in the north had it great during the Depression.
 
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No, I think there were many failures in the South, during and after reconstruction. But it seems to me the South is always blaming someone else, carpet-baggers, etc.

One poster repeatedly shows a photo of Depression-era southern children and blames the north for their condition, as if children in the north had it great during the Depression.
Won't address post reconstruction as it's beyond the scope of the forum, as the forum is reconstruction, it does seem to me military reconstruction failed, and the failure would go to those who conceived and pursued it, as any failed policy should.

Reconstruction after military reconstructions failure, seems was successful, after all we won two world wars and are still here as one country.
 
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ForeverFree

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As we talk about the successes or failures of Reconstruction, I think it's important to note that different people wanted different things out the period. And what might be seen as success for some, might be seen as failure for others.

As I see it, there was not one single, coherent, and discrete Reconstruction agenda, but rather several. Using my own naming conventions, these include:

• the Union preservation agenda, whose goal was to ensure that the Union would not be dissolved

• the Republican Egalitarian agenda, whose goal was to ensure political, social, and to an extent, economic equality in the South, based largely around free labor ideals

• the White Southern/ Home Rule agenda, whose goal was to maintain, as much as possible, the ante-bellum status quo with regard to the relative status of whites and blacks

• the black southerner Egalitarian agenda, whose goal was to ensure political, social, and economic equality for African Americans

The Union preservation agenda was a clear success; indeed, we no longer see secession and civil war as a means of resolving political conflict.

For over 100 years, the White Southern / Home Rule agenda was a success, as evidenced by the Redemption and Jim Crow segregation.

The Republican Egalitarian agenda and the black southerner Egalitarian agenda had some moments of success, but these mostly failed. Mostly failed does not mean completely failed. African Americans did in fact achieve some gains in the social sphere. But it was a very limited success and progress. One key is that elements of that agenda survived, and were key to enabling the Civil Rights Movement and subsequent dismantling of Jim Crow.

The bottom line is, there was not "one" lived Reconstruction, but several. White southerners would probably insist that their vision of Reconstruction was just as valid and righteous, if not more so, than anybody else's.

As we conceive of these different agendas, we need to ask at least one question: what resources were available to achieve each of these varying agendas? Each agenda was engaged with very different levels of available resources, and examining these helps us to understand why each any particular agenda would fail or succeed.

- Alan
 
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Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
As we talk about the successes or failures of Reconstruction, I think it's important to note that different people wanted different things out the period. And what might be seen as success for some, might be seen as failure for others.

As I see it, there was not one single, coherent, and discrete Reconstruction agenda, but rather several. Using my own naming conventions, these include:

• the Union preservation agenda, whose goal was to ensure that the Union would not be dissolved

• the Republican Egalitarian agenda, whose goal was to ensure political, social, and to an extent, economic equality in the South, based largely around free labor ideals

• the White Southern/ Home Rule agenda, whose goal was to maintain, as much as possible, the ante-bellum status quo with regard to the relative status of whites and blacks

• the black southerner Egalitarian agenda, whose goal was to ensure political, social, and economic equality for African Americans

The Union preservation agenda was a clear success; indeed, we no longer see secession and civil war as a means of resolving political conflict.

For over 100 years, the White Southern / Home Rule agenda was a success, as evidenced by the Redemption and Jim Crow segregation.

The Republican Egalitarian agenda and the black southerner Egalitarian agenda had some moments of success, but these mostly failed. Mostly failed does not mean completely failed. African Americans did in fact achieve some gains in the social sphere. But it was a very limited success and progress. One key is that elements of that agenda survived, and were key to enabling the Civil Rights Movement and subsequent dismantling of Jim Crow.

The bottom line is, there was not "one" lived Reconstruction, but several. White southerners would probably insist that their vision of Reconstruction was just as valid and righteous, if not more so, than anybody else's.

As we conceive of these different agendas, we need to ask at least one question: what resources were available to achieve each of these varying agendas? Each agenda was engaged with very different levels of available resources, and examine these helps us to understand why each any particular agenda would fail or succeed.

- Alan
I agree somewhat, but the problem then, and as some seem to still view it today, is not recognizing it was really two separate issues.... Reconstruction and civil rights were separate issues.....radical Republicans tried to tie one to other, which basicly just had both failing. However in reality civil rights had nothing to with the restoration of the Union, it could be done with it, without it, or a gradual in between policy.

Its like slavery, the Union could exist with it or without it. If. For example if the Union had won Bull Run and the war ended in 1861, it's hard to imagine the Union wouldn't have been restored with slavery still in place. Just as the Union existed 1861-65 with slavery.
 

ForeverFree

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I agree somewhat, but the problem then, and as some seem to still view it today, is not recognizing it was really two separate issues.... Reconstruction and civil rights were separate issues.....radical Republicans tried to tie one to other, which basicly just had both failing. However in reality civil rights had nothing to with the restoration of the Union, it could be done with it, without it, or a gradual in between policy.

Its like slavery, the Union could exist with it or without it. If. For example if the Union had won Bull Run and the war ended in 1861, it's hard to imagine the Union wouldn't have been restored with slavery still in place. Just as the Union existed 1861-65 with slavery.

RE: Reconstruction and civil rights were separate issues

African Americans and many Republicans absolutely believed that these issues were inseparable. African Americans believed that by their support of the US effort, they earned and deserved civil rights. This was stated by African Americans countless times throughout the era.

- Alan
 
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I assume as a baseline, that we wanted to maintain the ideals of government we were founded on, and have kept to today.

Which leaves one with the basic truth the majority of the former CSA was white....To restore civil state and local rule, one needs that majority and policies that they will accept. The parallel to me would be the FSL, Congress overreached with the FSL, and some communities wouldn't accept it, so they defied it and wouldn't enforce it.
RE: Reconstruction and civil rights were separate issues

African Americans and many Republicans absolutely believed that these issues were inseparable. African Americans believed that by their support of the US effort, they earned and deserved civil rights. This was stated by African Americans countless times throughout the era.

- Alan
But that as a country once military reconstruction ended, that we won two world wars and went from a regional power to a world superpower with Jim Crow existing in the south, and to a lesser extent in the north as well, would seem to show one wasn't directly tied to other as far as our success in being one nation and the survival of the Union. We thrived as much as any nation 1880-1960

But for us to continue as a democratic republic in 1870 required democratic majorities being restored in the former CSA states.......the reality was those majorities were white, and for the policies to be successful, one needed policies they would accept.......dont see any way around that.

Civil rights is a great thing, but you need a majority to agree, for it to actually work......that majority didnt exist in the 1870's south, so it failed.
 
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As a historian I can see vast differences in how race is viewed today compared to 1870, not that I would say we are even perfect today.

However also a historian should be willing to accept any 1865-1878 policy was going to be accepted or rejected by those 1870 views in the areas being restored. So one needed to pursue policies in 1870 that would be accepted........for the policy to have a chance of success
 

ForeverFree

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I assume as a baseline, that we wanted to maintain the ideals of government we were founded on, and have kept to today.

Which leaves one with the basic truth the majority of the former CSA was white....To restore civil state and local rule, one needs that majority and policies that they will accept. The parallel to me would be the FSL, Congress overreached with the FSL, and some communities wouldn't accept it, so they defied it and wouldn't enforce it.

But that as a country once military reconstruction ended, that we won two world wars and went from a regional power to a world superpower with Jim Crow existing in the south, and to a lesser extent in the north as well, would seem to show one wasn't directly tied to other as far as our success in being one nation and the survival of the Union. We thrived as much as any nation 1880-1960

But for us to continue as a democratic republic in 1870 required democratic majorities being restored in the former CSA states.......the reality was those majorities were white, and for the policies to be successful, one needed policies they would accept.......dont see any way around that.

Civil rights is a great thing, but you need a majority to agree, for it to actually work......that majority didnt exist in the 1870's south, so it failed.

As a historian I can see vast differences in how race is viewed today compared to 1870, not that I would say we are even perfect today.

However also a historian should be willing to accept any 1865-1878 policy was going to accepted or rejected by those 1870 views in the areas being restored. So one needed to pursue policies that would be accepted........

You are making it sound as if the outcome of the post-Civil War was inevitable. But it wasn't to the people who lived it. African Americans and some number of whites actually did believe that the South could become a place where the rights of all could be respected regardless of race. Most southern whites thought differently, and in the end, they won.

- Alan
 
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You are making it sound as if the outcome of the post-Civil War was inevitable. But it wasn't to the people who lived it. African Americans and some number of whites actually did believe that the South could become a place where the rights of all could be respected regardless of race. Most southern whites thought differently, and in the end, they won.

- Alan
No, I wouldnt think that all.....the outcome of military reconstruction as it was pursued was inevitable, it ended in failure, we know as hindsight is 20/20......I have never said or suggested a more gradual policy might not have been more successful at all. It very well might well have been. Generally i do believe one gets more with honey then vinegar, or offer a carrot with a stick.......

I honestly have not seen any sources that claim sizable numbers of white southerners suddenly went from viewing blacks as an inferior race and property to suddenly as equals as a race and individuals overnight........ without that change however, one cant simply legislate it so, as its unenforceable if one is restoring a democratic society...as its local and state majorities who do the enforcing.....I do believe that should have been foreseeable in 1865
 
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ForeverFree

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No, I wouldnt think that all.....the hindsight of military reconstruction as it was pursued was inevitable, it ended in failure, we know as hindsight is 20/20......I have never said or suggested a more gradual policy might not have been more successful at all. It very well might well have been.

I have to repeat this: the people of that era did not know that they would end in "failure." We know that racial egalitarianism failed, but they did not have the advantage of this hindsight. If they knew the future, they would almost certainly have tried different strategies that would be more successful. The world would be a quite different place if we had clairvoyance, but instead, we often act on hopes and dreams that never come to pass, or at least, not in our lifetimes.

- Alan
 
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I have to repeat this: the people of that era did not know that they would end in "failure." We know that racial egalitarianism failed, but they did not have the advantage of this hindsight. If they knew the future, they would almost certainly have tried different strategies that would be more successful. The world would be a quite different place if we had clairvoyance, but instead, we often act on hopes and dreams that never come to pass, or at least, not in our lifetimes.

- Alan
I think that southerners hadn't suddenly changed their view from blacks being an inferior race and property to suddenly being equals in race and as individuals overnight, should have been entirely foreseeable to Republicans pursuing policy, as it hadn't even happened in their constituents
 
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I have always been a realist, at times I have idealistic goals, but even then I'm enough of a realist to not suddenly expect drastic change.....

Yes I agree one could in theory pursue a policy with a Pollyanna view, I would still assign the blame on that they pursued a Pollyanna policy rather then a realistic one when it fails.
 

Pete Longstreet

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I think the issue started with the Emancipation Proclamation. Not the act itself, but there was no plan of how to assist the newly liberated on how to live on their own and provide for their families. There was no gradual transition, but they simply went from slavery to being "free" and thus were given an almost impossible task of doing everything on their own after being suppressed for so many years. I think the entire transition was neglected. Whether on purpose, I don't know.
 
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