Union Failures During Reconstruction

ForeverFree

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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

These things are not mutually exclusive. It's entirely possible that Republicans and southern African Americans knew that white southerners would remain racist, and simultaneously, believed that the same federal government which beat the Confederacy on the battlefield could enforce racial egalitarianism in the South during peacetime.

Several historians have recounted that many black southern politicians were assassinated during Reconstruction. I don't think these men were deliberately suicidal.

Certainly, Republicans and southern African Americans miscalculated the outcome of attempted racial equality. But human history has perhaps millions of cases of miscalculations that led to sad results. These continue to this day, all over the world.

- Alan
 
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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.
I tend to agree its always seemed to me
1861-62 we could have gone either way with slavery
1863 EP....going forward the more slaves freed, the more unmanageable the slavery issue becomes
1864-1865 elimination of slavery becomes inevitable

Agree its hard to see it really a planned sequence.

But the next is even more unclear to me, with the push for civil rights and suffrage........
those actually believing in equality still seem a minority even in north......
Some claim suffrage was political, a move by republicans to promote a southern black majority......except blacks weren't the majority.......
That the south wasn't going to suddenly view them as equals should have been rather obvious

My theory is moderate Republicans and some northern Democrats went along in an effort to temporally punish the south for the war, they surely knew equal rights and suffrage would be intolerable and put a burr under their saddle, as nothing else makes sense as any coherent policy..... However dont think moderate democrats or republicans wished to punish the south indefinitely or were willing to maintain some military occupation indefinitely.
 
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mo
These things are not mutually exclusive. It's entirely possible that Republicans and southern African Americans knew that white southerners would remain racist, and simultaneously, believed that the same federal government which beat the Confederacy on the battlefield could enforce racial egalitarianism in the South during peacetime.

Several historians have recounted that many black southern politicians were assassinated during Reconstruction. I don't think these men were deliberately suicidal.

Certainly, Republicans and southern African Americans miscalculated the outcome of attempted racial equality. But human history has perhaps millions of cases of miscalculations that led to sad results. These continue to this day, all over the world.

- Alan
I disagree they were mutually opposed to one another......if your going to reconstruct democratic civil systems, they are going to be the ones responsible for enforcement......again a decade earlier the FSL demonstrated if a region disagreed with a law, they simply wouldn't enforce it, if somehow someone was brought to trial, they would simply do jury nullification and acquit.

I really dont buy it, that as it was historically pursued, the historical outcome not having been foreseeable

One cant concede to enforce civil rights and suffrage would require military occupation and disenfranchising the majority, to then claim your reconstructing a democratic state, nation or society. One indeed nullifies the other in reality.

Edit added-Because if you do restore the majority as eventually was done, the other simply isn't enforced.....It couldn't go both ways as it was pursued......When Radicals tied civil rights to reconstruction they doomed both, till they were separated with the end of military reconstruction.
 
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ForeverFree

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I disagree they were mutually opposed to one another......if your going to reconstruct democratic civil systems, they are going to be the ones responsible for enforcement......again a decade earlier the FSL demonstrated if a region disagreed with a law, they simply wouldn't enforce it, if somehow someone was brought to trial, they would simply do jury nullification and acquit.

I really dont buy it, that as it was historically pursued, the historical outcome not having been foreseeable

One cant concede to enforce civil rights and suffrage would require military occupation and disenfranchising the majority, to then claim your reconstructing a democratic state, nation or society. One indeed nullifies the other in reality.

Edit added-Because if you do restore the majority as eventually was done, the other simply isn't enforced.....It couldn't go both ways as it was pursued......

If you believe that the situation was foreseeable, then you're basically saying that southern black politicians who were assassinated were suicidal, because they should have seen it coming. I just don't find this reasonable.

I have done some reading about the expectations of black southerners after the war. I am struck by the widespread notion of "Jubilee" among them. Many black folks believed that their freedom was an act of god. For them, freedom from slavery was impossible, and yet now they were free. It was not a leap of faith, to them, that the same god who delivered them from bondage would also secure them equality before the law... it was a time when anything seemed possible. Indeed, the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments further buoyed their high expectations.

One narrative we hear from wartime is that a number of white slaveowners who were shocked when their bondspeople people ran away, and even joined the Union army. They just couldn't believe that "their" people would take up arms against their masters. White southerners were under the delusion that enslaved people really were happy with their bondage, but it was a delusion.

Black southerners were shocked at the animus of white southerners in the aftermath of the war. Were black southerners and white Republicans delusional? Maybe that word describes it. My sense is that it wasn't that they thought white southerners would be OK with racial equality; they simply thought white southerners were beaten and would follow the dictates of the victorious Union. It didn't happen.

A couple of notes to add here:
1) When the Civil War began, Lincoln and many Republicans thought the southern states were bluffing when they threatened and even carried out their acts of secession. Men like Lincoln really believed that a groundswell of grass-roots pro-Unionism would emerge after secession, and force the secessionist to rescind dissolution and return to the Union. It never happened. Just one of a million miscalculations in human history.

2) History.com offers this about the Compromise of 1877:

In February, at a meeting held in Washington’s Wormley Hotel, the Democrats agreed to accept a Hayes presidential victory, and to respect the civil and political rights of African Americans, on the condition that Republicans withdraw all federal troops from South, thus consolidating Democratic control in the region. Hayes would also have to agree to name a leading southerner to his cabinet and to support federal aid for the Texas and Pacific Railroad, a planned transcontinental line via a southern route. On March 2, the congressional commission voted 8-7 along party lines to award all the disputed electoral votes to Hayes, giving him 185 votes to Tilden’s 184.​
The Compromise of 1876 effectively ended the Reconstruction era. Southern Democrats’ promises to protect civil and political rights of blacks were not kept, and the end of federal interference in southern affairs led to widespread disenfranchisement of blacks voters. From the late 1870s onward, southern legislatures passed a series of laws requiring the separation of whites from “persons of color” on public transportation, in schools, parks, restaurants, theaters and other locations. Known as the “Jim Crow laws” (after a popular minstrel act developed in the antebellum years), these segregationist statutes governed life in the South through the middle of the next century, ending only after the hard-won successes of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.​

- Alan
 
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If you believe that the situation was foreseeable, then you're basically saying that southern black politicians who were assassinated were suicidal, because they should have seen it coming. I just don't find this reasonable.

I have done some reading about the expectations of black southerners after the war. I am struck by the widespread notion of "Jubilee" among them. Many black folks believed that their freedom was an act of god. For them, freedom from slavery was impossible, and yet now they were free. It was not a leap of faith, to them, that the same god who delivered them from bondage would also secure them equality before the law... it was a time when anything seemed possible. Indeed, the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments further buoyed their high expectations.

One narrative we hear from wartime is that a number of white slaveowners who were shocked when their bondspeople people ran away, and even joined the Union army. They just couldn't believe that "their" people would take up arms against their masters. White southerners were under the delusion that enslaved people really were happy with their bondage, but it was a delusion.

Black southerners were shocked at the animus of white southerners in the aftermath of the war. Were black southerners and white Republicans delusional? Maybe that word describes it. My sense is that it wasn't that they thought white southerners would be OK with racial equality; they simply thought white southerners were beaten and would follow the dictates of the victorious Union. It didn't happen.

A couple of notes to add here:
1) When the Civil War began, Lincoln and many Republicans thought the southern states were bluffing when they threatened and even carried out their acts of secession. Men like Lincoln really believed that a groundswell of grass-roots pro-Unionism would emerge after secession, and force the secessionist to rescind dissolution and return to the Union. It never happened. Just one of a million miscalculations in human history.

2) History.com offers this about the Compromise of 1877:

In February, at a meeting held in Washington’s Wormley Hotel, the Democrats agreed to accept a Hayes presidential victory, and to respect the civil and political rights of African Americans, on the condition that Republicans withdraw all federal troops from South, thus consolidating Democratic control in the region. Hayes would also have to agree to name a leading southerner to his cabinet and to support federal aid for the Texas and Pacific Railroad, a planned transcontinental line via a southern route. On March 2, the congressional commission voted 8-7 along party lines to award all the disputed electoral votes to Hayes, giving him 185 votes to Tilden’s 184.​
The Compromise of 1876 effectively ended the Reconstruction era. Southern Democrats’ promises to protect civil and political rights of blacks were not kept, and the end of federal interference in southern affairs led to widespread disenfranchisement of blacks voters. From the late 1870s onward, southern legislatures passed a series of laws requiring the separation of whites from “persons of color” on public transportation, in schools, parks, restaurants, theaters and other locations. Known as the “Jim Crow laws” (after a popular minstrel act developed in the antebellum years), these segregationist statutes governed life in the South through the middle of the next century, ending only after the hard-won successes of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.​

- Alan

"they simply thought white southerners were beaten and would follow the dictates of the victorious Union."

And that goes against reconstruction...….the point of reconstruction was to bring the southern states back as equals and restore the Union......I have never heard the goal of the civil war was to turn the south into occupied provinces to be dictated to. Dont think Lincoln viewed it as such, nor Johnson, nor the moderates, perhaps a handful of the most diehard Radical Republican's, but the south being indefinitely dictated to was a policy that wouldn't fly as was historically shown.

I dont doubt blacks were hopeful, but they weren't driving the policy postwar.
 

ForeverFree

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"they simply thought white southerners were beaten and would follow the dictates of the victorious Union."

And that goes against reconstruction...….the point of reconstruction was to bring the southern states back as equals and restore the Union......I have never heard the goal of the civil war was to turn the south into occupied provinces to be dictated to. Dont think Lincoln viewed it as such, nor Johnson, nor the moderates, perhaps a handful of the most diehard Radical Republican's, but the south being indefinitely dictated to was a policy that wouldn't fly as was historically shown.

I dont doubt blacks were hopeful, but they weren't driving the policy postwar.

AC,

Restoring the Union = occupying the southern states and dictating to them. That's the way Reconstruction worked, as a matter of fact. The USA and CSA went to war, hundreds of thousands of casualties. Make no mistake, white southerners in the former Confederate States did not want to be in the Union, they were beaten and forced into it.

I mentioned earlier that there were several, competing "agendas":
• 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

Union occupation lasted for years precisely because of the fear that former Confederates would attempt to dissolve the Union or otherwise. In the end, the Union was in fact preserved. This was not because white southerners wanted it, this happened because the Union won a military war and then dictated terms to the defeated Confederacy.

In the same way that the US was able to preserve the Union even though white southerners didn't want it, there was the hope, of the leadership of the Republican Party, of creating an Egalitarian South even though white southerners didn't want it. One agenda was met (preserving the Union), one wasn't (having an Egalitarian South).

- Alan
 
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AC,

Restoring the Union = occupying the southern states and dictating to them. That's the way Reconstruction worked, as a matter of fact. The USA and CSA went to war, hundreds of thousands of casualties. Make no mistake, white southerners in the former Confederate States did not want to be in the Union, they were beaten and forced into it.

I mentioned earlier that there were several, competing "agendas":
• 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

Union occupation lasted for years precisely because of the fear that former Confederates would attempt to dissolve the Union or otherwise. In the end, the Union was in fact preserved. This was not because white southerners wanted it, this happened because the Union won a military war and then dictated terms to the defeated Confederacy.

In the same way that the US was able to preserve the Union even though white southerners didn't want it, there was the hope, of the leadership of the Republican Party, of creating an Egalitarian South even though white southerners didn't want it. One agenda was met (preserving the Union), one wasn't (having an Egalitarian South).

- Alan
I disagree completely, restoring a Union, a democratic Union involves restoring those states as equals, there is no way around that. Just as one cant legislate "beliefs" whether with FSL or 14th amendment, as local enforcement will be by local majorities. One actually does need the consent of those governed to be effective in a democratic society.

If your saying as I previously have pointed out a minority of republicans didn't want reconstruction to succeed, I wouldn't necessarily disagree, However that they were a minority, and could not maintain occupation support indefinitely seems obvious. That they ever thought they could I would think was both folly and failure.
 
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The question to me isnt what any one group wanted, but what was the majority mood in the north? Were they diehard crusaders for equality, or lukewarm and very divided in opinion? Likewise what was the mood among the majority white southerners, support for equality, or opposition to it?

The reality is no matter how noble a cause is, its going to have to survive with the conditions and circumstances that existed, they could no more wave a magic wand to change opinion then, then we can today. So any successful policy is going to have to stay within the constraints of the majorities to be successful.

The radicals had a alliance with the moderates for a time......but did they really share the same goals, and was it realistic to expect any such alliance to last forever.... If the mood wouldn't sustain a policy, its a bad policy to pursue, as its going to fail. In a democratic republic representatives cant ignore the mood very long......Have a classic example of incident here, but would be modern.
 
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ForeverFree

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I disagree completely, restoring a Union, a democratic Union involves restoring those states as equals, there is no way around that.

My comment has nothing to do with the notion of restoring states as equal. I'm talking about something else.

One actually does need the consent of those governed to be effective.

So what you're saying is, white southerners "consented" to being brought back into the Union, as opposed to coming back to the Union after being beaten militarily by the USA?

- Alan
 
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My comment has nothing to do with the notion of restoring states as equal. I'm talking about something else.



So what you're saying is, white southerners "consented" to being brought back into the Union, as opposed to coming back to the Union after being beaten militarily by the USA?

- Alan
Yes most assuredly, the war ended in 1865, we dictated terms of them electing their own governments and abolishing slavery........which they did, which indeed was consenting to the terms they had been told.

If one is restoring a democratic republic and civil governments, one does not continue to dictate....that defeats restoring a democratic republic and civil governments.......again you cant claim to do one thing while doing the opposite. Not sure how long you think we should have dictated 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years........but it rather evident the mood of the country was wearing thin by 1878, as military reconstruction dies with a whimper........As we have never been a police state, and again other then a small minority of radical republicans then, don't think many whether in 1865, 1870, or 1875 envisioned a continuing military occupation or police state, as support for one seemed to steadily erode.

One can look around the world today and easily see examples where continued occupation and dictation, rather then restoring the people to power, has simply lead to increased resentment, guerrilla war and terrorism.
 
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byron ed

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...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...

I can help with that "usually" thing. The failure of Reconstruction by the 1870s was of course mostly the fault of some legacy Confederates who put up a violent and scheming resistance to Reconstruction; and lesser the fault of the Federals who didn't effectively check the graft perpetuated by carpetbaggers and who eventually caved to that violent and scheming resistance.

Though it counts for little, the Federals at least held the moral high ground (well ok, perhaps just a higher hill) for not being the ones who were systematically killing Southern citizens at that time Edited.
 
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I can help with that "usually" thing. The failure of Reconstruction by the 1870s was of course mostly the fault of some legacy Confederates who put up a violent and scheming resistance to Reconstruction; and lesser the fault of the Federals who didn't effectively check the graft perpetuated by carpetbaggers and who eventually caved to that violent and scheming resistance.

Though it counts for little, the Federals at least held the moral high ground (well ok, perhaps just a higher hill) for not being the ones who were systematically killing Southern citizens at that time Edited.
I would disagree, a faulty policy is the fault of those who implement it. If they didn't have a grasp on the mood in the south or how the policy would be met, it was indeed monumental failure on their part.

I say usually, because the failure wasn't in 1877 when it ended at all, but in 1867 when they passed the military reconstruction act that started the road to failure in the first place. 1877 marked the actual restoration of civil authority to all states of the United States which was the goal of restoring one nation again. That we are here today marks that 1877 was the beginning of one nation again, not the end.
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
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?
Historians have reinterpreted Civil War Reconstruction over the past fifty years. Shortly before the Centennial it was commonly believed that the chief aim of the Republican-dominated Congress was to ensure lasting Party control of the federal government by creating a reliable voting bloc in the South for which improved racial status among blacks was a coupled, but secondary, objective. By the Sesquicentennial, however, it had become the accepted view that the Republican desire for racial equality was untainted by anything more than negligible self interest. Consequently, the presently dominant race-centric focus on Reconstruction minimizes factors that affected all Southerners of all races.

Contrary to popular belief Southern poverty has been a longer-lasting Civil War legacy than has segregation. Prior to the war the South had a bimodal wealth distribution with concentrations at the poles. The classic planters with fifty or more slaves had prosperous estates but they represented less than 1% of Southern families. Partly because 1860 slave property values represented half of Southern wealth, seven of the ten states with the highest per capita wealth joined the Confederacy.

 

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
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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.

Historians have reinterpreted Civil War Reconstruction over the past fifty years. Shortly before the Centennial it was commonly believed that the chief aim of the Republican-dominated Congress was to ensure lasting Party control of the federal government by creating a reliable voting bloc in the South for which improved racial status among blacks was a coupled, but secondary, objective. By the Sesquicentennial, however, it had become the accepted view that the Republican desire for racial equality was untainted by anything more than negligible self interest. Consequently, the presently dominant race-centric focus on Reconstruction minimizes factors that affected all Southerners of all races.

Contrary to popular belief Southern poverty has been a longer-lasting Civil War legacy than has segregation. Prior to the war the South had a bimodal wealth distribution with concentrations at the poles. The classic planters with fifty or more slaves had prosperous estates but they represented less than 1% of Southern families. Partly because 1860 slave property values represented half of Southern wealth, seven of the ten states with the highest per capita wealth joined the Confederacy.

 
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We should not give the false impression that Congressional Reconstruction purpose was to restore the Confederacy to its pre-war democratic republic Union status. Reason being the Old South was never a democratic republic, as it did constitute dangerous oligarchical societies; dominated by slaveholder elites trying to stay alive in a then modern society, with an outdated mode of labor. It was certainty difficult to revolutionized, such an ancient form because it was enormously enriching if one could break into its elite society. It is also a false impression to imply that most of the Radical Republicans were dominated by self interest and simply wanted political power based in the old Confederacy. The historical record easily disproves this falsehood. It had always been the intentions of the Radical Republicans from creation to have constructed a conclusive and whole democratic republic based on the doctrine of egalitarianism and justice for all free of human slavery. The short history of Congressional Reconstruction ended with the slow strangulation by Northern conservatives/reactionaries; after securing an alliance with the defeated and submissive Southerner former planter class; who had been returned to having a political voice; and embraced Yankee capitalism based on so called free labor system.
 
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We should not give the false impression that Congressional Reconstruction purpose was to restore the Confederacy to its pre-war democratic republic Union status. Reason being the Old South was never a democratic republic, as it did constitute dangerous oligarchical societies; dominated by slaveholder elites trying to stay alive in a then modern society, with an outdated mode of labor. It was certainty difficult to revolutionized, such an ancient form because it was enormously enriching if one could break into its elite society. It is also a false impression to imply that most of the Radical Republicans were dominated by self interest and simply wanted political power based in the old Confederacy. The historical record easily disproves this falsehood. It had always been the intentions of the Radical Republicans from creation to have constructed a conclusive and whole democratic republic based on the doctrine of egalitarianism and justice for all free of human slavery. The short history of Congressional Reconstruction ended with the slow strangulation by Northern conservatives/reactionaries; after securing an alliance with the defeated and submissive Southerner former planter class; who had been returned to having a political voice; and embraced Yankee capitalism based on so called free labor system.
I would think we should not give the false impression the purpose of congressional Reconstruction was to create two separate political systems for different regions of the United States, as it wasnt, it was to restore one. That politics can be influenced by interests or alliances of interests continue to this day, within all regions of the country. It always has been part of our democratic republic.
 
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You seemingly contradicted yourself in that I had supposed you believed indeed the Radical Republicans were managing two separate societies: one to be a newly founded southern democratic republic based on the leadership of Southern Unionists and their Northern allies; and the other the existing northern society to be compelled to follow a to be southern miracle; thus having the northern society becoming more democratic and egalitarian with greater social justice. The Radical Republicans were true believers in the doctrine and it was their goal to have a united Union Republic, of all the states, on the new foundation to be based on those beliefs of those Founding Father, who were inspired by the European Enlightenment. Those Founding Father never achieved their true Republic by having to compromise with powerful Slaveholder elites. The Radical Republicans were to set things right or so they believed. Lastly, the Radical Republicans did not create the northern society as it existed at that time but they hoped to change it along with the old Confederacy.
 
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You seemingly contradicted yourself in that I had supposed you believed indeed the Radical Republicans were managing two separate societies: one to be a newly founded southern democratic republic based on the leadership of Southern Unionists and their Northern allies; and the other the existing northern society to be compelled to follow a to be southern miracle; thus having the northern society becoming more democratic and egalitarian with greater social justice. The Radical Republicans were true believers in the doctrine and it was their goal to have a united Union Republic, of all the states, on the new foundation to be based on those beliefs of those Founding Father, who were inspired by the European Enlightenment. Those Founding Father never achieved their true Republic by having to compromise with powerful Slaveholder elites. The Radical Republicans were to set things right or so they believed. Lastly, the Radical Republicans did not create the northern society as it existed at that time but they hoped to change it along with the old Confederacy.
Well their vision of reconstruction was indeed a Union failure as were the Radical Republicans themselves ultimately , with their failed visions and failed military reconstruction they ceased to have any power at all, and ceased to exist.

Their demise however lead to the success of one nation being restored, as our being here today still as one nation attests.
 
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We seem to agree that the Radical Republican Congressional Reconstruction did collapse, but it left a foundation upon which was to be established public school system, public hospitals, public mental hospitals, programs for food distribution to the needy by government initiative. The restoration and reunion that did happen as you report was a victory of the northern conservative/reactionary elites of both parties who, under the weak apparatus called Reconstruction, got rid of slavery and compelled the defeated southern elites to join Yankee capitalism with its so called free labor system. Radical Republicans and southern Unionists (black and white) were used to win the War and then gently undermined and unfairly black balled. Therefore, in this sense thereof, this powerful part of the Union did win their goal, during and after Reconstruction, which was to place in their control the former Confederate elites within a Yankee capitalist system.
 
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We seem to agree that the Radical Republican Congressional Reconstruction did collapse, but it left a foundation upon which was to be established public school system, public hospitals, public mental hospitals, programs for food distribution to the needy by government initiative. The restoration and reunion that did happen as you report was a victory of the northern conservative/reactionary elites of both parties who, under the weak apparatus called Reconstruction, got rid of slavery and compelled the defeated southern elites to join Yankee capitalism with its so called free labor system. Radical Republicans and southern Unionists (black and white) were used to win the War and then gently undermined and unfairly black balled. Therefore, in this sense thereof, this powerful part of the Union did win their goal, during and after Reconstruction, which was to place in their control the former Confederate elites within a Yankee capitalist system.
Yes it just turned out the powerful part of the Union wasn't Radical Republicans at all in the end, but resurgent Democrats.

Which really shouldn't be surprising as Republican votes had been a minority in 1860 as well. They never had a clear mandate from the whole nation in the first place.
 
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