Subject: History 12
Section no.: 3429
X-Credit No.1: What steps did the leaders of the Old South take between
1865 and 1900
To regain the power they had lost from their
total defeat in the Civil
War? (Chaps.15 & 18)
On New Year's Day,1863, President Abraham Lincoln began the process by
which all people in the nation became free by singing the Emancipation
Proclamation which established the destruction of slavery as Civil War
aim. This also was part of reconstruction goals. Reconstruction, the period
between 1865 and 1877, was a time of physical rebuilding throughout the
South. The term "Reconstruction", refers primarily to the rebuilding of the
federal Union and to the political, economic, and social charges that came
to the South after the war. Republican Party played an important role
through the whole Reconstruction process. This faction developed a third
objective: citizenship for the former slaves and the equality of all
citizens before the law. Their Radicals advocated the Black rights which
mean Black people also have the same rights as other people especially
white people. Also, all Republicans agreed that slavery had to be destroyed
permanently. Basically, most South American except the leaders of the Old
South wanted to achieve this goal through the reconstruction.
For advancing of a Union army brought the reality of emancipation to the
Confederacy. Congress in early 1865 approved the Thirteenth Amendment,
which means that constitutional amendment ratified in 1865 that abolished
slavery in the United States and its territories. To destroy slavery
forever throughout was the purpose of the Thirteenth Amendment.
To regain the power, the leaders of the Old South took plenty action
between 1865 and 1900. First of all, Sharecropping is one of the
agricultural system in which tenant farmers give landlords a share of the
crops as rent rather than cash. Under this system, many southerners became
trapped by sharecropping and debt because sharecroppers often found
themselves in debt to a local merchant who had advanced supplies on credit
until the harvest came and many landlords required tenants to patronize the
stores they ran. Thus, the debt owed the store exceeded the value of the
tenant's share of the harvest. For this reason, the power of the landlord
and the merchant often extended to politics. When a landlord or merchant
advocated a particular candidate, the unspoken message was often an
implicit threat to cut off credit at the store or to evict a farmer from
his plot if he did not vote as directed. Such forms of economic coercion
had the potential to undercut voting rights.
In 1865, the newly reconstructed state legislatures passed black codes to
define the new legal status of African Americans. Black code placed
significant required all African Americans to have an annual employment
contract, restricted them from moving about the countryside without
permission, forbade them from owning guns or carrying weapons, restricted
ownership of land, and required those without a job to perform forced
labor. The black codes clearly represented an effort by white southerners
to define a legally subordinate place for African Americans.
The Civil Right Act of 1866 defined all persons born in the United States
(with the exception of certain Indians) as citizens. It also listed certain
rights of all citizens, including the right to testify in court, own
property, make contracts, bring lawsuits, and enjoy "full and equal benefit
of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property." It
authorized federal officials to bring suit against violations of civil
rights. It was the first effort to define some of the rights of American
About Fourteenth Amendment is not that no State shall make or enforce any
law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its
jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The Constitution and Bill of
Rights prohibited federal interference with basic civil rights. The
Fourteenth Amendment extended this protection against action by state
Congress passed those civil rights bill that gave citizenship to African
Americans and defined the rights of all citizens. And Military
Reconstruction Act of 1867, passed on March 2 over Johnson's veto, divided
the Confederate states (except Tennessee) into five military districts,
each governed by a military commander. The act established a military
occupation of the South. The ten states were to hold constitutional
conventions that were to create new state governments which permitted black
suffrage and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment.
For destroying the Reconstruction as passing those bill and Acts, white
southerners used violence to coerce the freedmen into accepting a
subordinate status. Violence and terror became closely associated with the
Ku Klux Klan, a secret organization formed in 1866. Former Confederate
general Nathan Bedford Forrest became a leader of the Klan. Klan groups
throughout the South aimed to restore white supremacy, which means the
racist belief that whites are inherently superior to all other races and
are therefore entitled to rule over them., and to end Republican rule. Klan
set out to intimidate leading black Republicans and their white Radical
allies. Their members also attacked African Americans of accused of not
showing deference to whites. In 1866, two events dramatized for the nation
the violence routinely inflicted on African Americans. In May, a three-day
riot by whites in Memphis, Tennessee, left forty-five blacks and three
whites dead. In New Orleans, some forty people died in July, most of them
African Americans attending a black suffrage convention.
Fifteenth Amendment is constitutional amendment ratified in 1870 that
prohibits states from denying the right to vote because of a person's race
or because a person used to be a slave. The primarily reason for Fifteenth
Amendment was guarantee of the voting rights of black everywhere. Also,
this Amendment showed that Reconstruction could not be overturned even
though they met violence and terror.
Because of the Fifteenth Amendment did nothing to reduce the violence that
had become almost routine in the South. When Klan activity escalated in
1870, southern Republicans turned to Washington for support. In 1870 and
1871, Congress acted the so-called Ku Klux Klan Acts to enforce the rights
specified in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
Black Reconstruction was the period of Reconstruction when African
Americans took an active role in state and local government. Suffrage made
politics important in African American communities. With suffrage
established, African Americans began to be elected to public office.
During this time Black Republicans achieved power only by securing at least
some support from whites. Opponents referred to white Republicans as either
carpetbaggers which was Derogatory southern term for the northerners who
came to the South after the Civil War to take part in Reconstruction or
scalawags which was Derogatory southern term for white southerners who
aligned themselves with the Republican party.. Both groups included
idealists but also included some opportunists who hoped only to fatten
their own purses.
However, Southern Democrats used the term "carpetbagger" to suggest that
northerners who came to the South after the war were second-rate
opportunists. Thus, those people were not so powerful. They also reserved
their greatest contempt for scalawags-a term used to describe completely
unscrupulous and worthless people.
The final Reconstruction measure was the Civil Right Act of 1875 prohibited
racial discrimination in the selection of juries, in public transportation,
and in public accommodations. And the Republican government and expanded
public institutions during the Black Reconstruction. They established or
expanded schools, hospitals, orphanages, and penitentiaries. Free public
education was perhaps the most permanent legacy of Black Reconstruction
constitutions required tax-supported public schools.
The Reconstruction state government also debated whether white and black
children should attend the same school. However, the Southern whites warned
that integration would drive whites away. Most states mandate that schools
be segregated. Funding for the new schools was rarely adequate. They had to
be funded largely through property taxes, and property tax revenues
declined during the 1870s as property values fell. Black schools almost
always received less support than white schools. Also, White Republicans
often opposed the law which was equal access to public transportation and
public accommodations. Those act showed how the leaders of the Old South
resisted the Reconstruction state government.
Actually, most white southerners resisted the new social order imposed on
them. They created the black codes to maintain white supremacy and to
restore elements of a bound labor system. They used terrorism against the
advocates of black rights. Such resistance, however, had caused Congress to
pass more severe terms for Reconstruction. This backlash drove some
southern opponents of Reconstruction to rethink their strategy.
They tended to use New Departure Democrats policy which is cooperation with
key Reconstruction measures that leading southern Democrats adopted in the
hope of winning compromises favorable to their party. The outcome of this
strategy was to dilute Radical influence in state government.
In 1876, the nation stumbled through a potentially dangerous presidential
election. As revelations of corruption grew nationally, the issue of reform
took center stage. The Democratic party nominated Samuel J. Tilden as its
presidential candidate. The Republicans also selected a reform candidate,
Rutherford B. Hayes, a Civil War general and governor of Ohio. Hayes's
unblemished reputation proved to be his greatest asset. Despite first
election reports indicated a close victory for Tilden, Republican election
boards in some states, which Tilden carried most, rejected enough ballots
to give Hayes those three states and thus a one-vote margin of victory in
the Electoral College.
The Democrats cried fraud. This event turned out Compromise of 1877, which
Southern Democrats agreed to allow the Republican candidate the victory in
the disputed presidential election in return for the removal of federal
troops form the South, through a series of informal agreements. Following
Southern Democrats demanded home rule, by which they meant an end to
federal intervention in southern politics. They also called for federal
subsides for railroad construction and waterways in the South. In return,
southern Democrats were willing to abandon Tilden's claim to the White
House if the commission ruled for Hayes.
Although the Civil Right Act of 1875 prohibited racial discrimination, the
Civil Right Cases, a series of cases that came before the Supreme Court in
1883, in which the Court ruled that private companies could legally
discriminate against blacks, do the contrast. The southern lawmakers slowly
began to require business to practice segregation. In 1887, the Florida
legislature required separate accommodations on railroad trains. By 1891,
six other states had passed similar laws. Both social custom and local laws
began to specify greater racial separation as well.
Mississippi whites took a bolder step in 1890, holding a state
constitutional convention to eliminate political participation by African
Americans. Shrewdly, the new provisions did not mention of the word race.
Instead they specified payment of a poll tax that many southern states used
as a prerequisite to voting to discourage blacks from taking part in the
electoral process., passing a literacy test which is hard for black because
they do not had education background. Despite those failed the literacy
test could still vote if they could understand a section of the state
constitution or law after it was read it to them. This "understanding"
clause gave white officials discretion in deciding who passed the test and
they usually permitted white illiterates to vote.
In 1898, Louisiana added the infamous grandfather clause that provision in
various southern state constitutions restriction suffrage to those whose
fathers or grandfathers could vote in 1867, thus depriving blacks of the
vote. The ruling reinstated whites into the electorate but kept blacks out.
Throughout the South, states set up substantial barriers to voting and then
carved holes through which only whites could squeeze. South Carolina and
other southern states added the white primary as an additional barrier.
Southern Democrats, the "white man's party," restricted their primaries and
conventions to whites only.
Southern lawmakers also extended segregation by law. The U.S. Supreme
Court's decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), a case involving segregated
railroad cars, aided the advocates of such segregation. The Court ruled
that "separate but equal" facilities did not violate the equal protection
clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Southern legislators soon applied that
reasoning to everything from prisons to restaurants.
Finally, the leaders of the Old South regained the power that they had lost
from their total defeat in the Civil War successfully because the outcome
of Reconstruction was white supremacy in politics, the economy, and social