The Ordeal of Reconstruction
Big ideas matter. Here are the most important themes for this chapter.
The over-arching theme of chapter 22 is that the South was placed under strict watch for years after the Civil War. Southern blacks saw some brief improvements, until the U.S. pulled back up North and left Southern blacks “hanging out to dry.”
- After the war, the question was, “What to do with the southern states?” The more moderate Republicans, like Lincoln and his successor Andrew Johnson, lost out to the Radical Republicans who desired to punish the South.
- The South was divided up into military districts. The southern states were not allowed to reenter the U.S. until the North’s stipulations were met.
- For Southern blacks, these years were good politically. Southern whites wanted nothing to do with the U.S. and voting. Blacks did vote and black politicians were often elected to state legislatures and Congress.
- Economically, freed blacks fared worse. They were no longer slaves, but with little other options, they largely became sharecroppers. The end result was little different and little better than slavery.
- In 1876, the presidential election was essentially a tie. A compromise was worked out in 1877 and the South got the U.S. Army to pull out. This left the southern blacks on their own—southern whites reasserted their power.