Essay on Could Reconstruction Have Been More Successful

3586 Words Apr 18th, 2013 15 Pages
History Term Paper
Jack Conway
Mr. Hilgendorf
February 25, 2013
Word Count: 3234

Reconstruction: Rebuilding America

The United States was founded on the belief that every man has “certain inalienable Rights.” Not until ninety years later, however, when slavery was abolished did the United States actually offer these “Rights” to all of its citizens. The 19th century was turbulent time of stress and change for America. One of the most controversial dilemmas was the issue of slavery. Slavery was conceived by many to be morally wrong, and it undermined America’s most valued beliefs. Despite this inconsistency, slavery was still widely supported and permitted out of economic necessity in the South.
Slavery divided the
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Clearly the North and federal government still held most of the power over the South. The most recalcitrant Confederate states underwent radical reconstruction enforced by a military regime. After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Andrew Johnson, his Vice President, replaced him. Johnson1, a southerner, shared Lincoln’s ideas on leniency when it came to reconstructing the South. He wanted minimal demands.
At first Radical Republicans were unwilling to spread national power and felt that in order to properly reconstruct the South they had to maintain their authority. However, the centralization of power did not last long as violence grew in southern states and as the desire to preserve the federal system’s pre-war balance weighed heavily on the minds of leading Republicans. Republican Senator James W. Grimes once said in a letter, “We are gradually surrendering all rights of the states,” illustrating that the Union intended to transfer power back to the southern states. Despite the turmoil caused during Reconstruction, there were some substantial accomplishments. The Thirteenth Amendment was the first of the “Reconstruction Amendments.” This Amendment made slavery illegal in every part of the United States. The next was the Fourteenth Amendment that made Blacks citizens and prohibited any state from interfering with the “inalienable
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