preview

The Reconstruction Essay

Decent Essays
The Reconstruction Reconstruction is defined as the period following the Civil War in which the Republican-dominated Federal government sought to reunite the Union; the measure included drastically remodeling Southern society in order to secure equality and independence for blacks through granting them various freedoms. Many historians believe that in order to fully understand the modern United States, one must understand Reconstruction. Studying it, therefore, has been a top priority amongst historians. Over the years, three main schools of thought have developed concerning Reconstruction. The Dunning School viewed the Northern Republicans as tyrannical leaders who pushed aside the governments…show more content…
Following the Civil War, many blacks argued that their hard work as slaves entitled them to a portion of their former masters' land. Southern whites, however, denied the blacks of this arguable right. It was left up to the state governments to take action and issue land distribution plans. The strong opposition from whites and even some Republicans to black land ownership, based on racism and fears of economic instability, stifled any government action. Left in poverty, many blacks, Burns argues, were forced to depend on their former masters for work, developing strict bargaining relationships with them in exchange for the paternalistic one that had existed during slavery. Foner argues that this dependence was not all bad; blacks were able to embrace the free-market, saving up money to purchase small luxuries, such as clothing and different foods. Ultimately, however, no land was distributed and Reconstruction failed to provide blacks with economic autonomy. Burns argues, through evaluation of other regions where slaves were emancipated, that if land had been distributed, blacks would have been productive on it. Foner, on the other hand, argues that due to the National banking system, Blacks would have been unable to obtain a loan to purchase supplies for the redistributed land,
Get Access