The reconstruction period was an attempt to restore the union in the years after the Civil War. After the Civil war in 1865, the union was tasked with the reconstruction of the country. Reconstruction started in 1865 and ended in 1877 after achieving most of the goals set by the policies put in place. The key goal of the reconstruction was to reunification and ensuring that the freedoms of the southern blacks. This paper will attempt to examine the policies followed during the reunification era to understand how it was the best course of action for the country at that time (Blight, 2013).
The plan set in place for the reunion with the south was called the reconstruction plan and it laid down various proposals and political plans to deal with the south. President Lincoln proposed a 10% strategy for reunification (Shackel, 2011). The plan was aimed at allowing the seceded states back into the union painlessly, and this would only require 10% of the voters to take an oath of loyalty. Supporters of this plan believed that southern states should not be punished harshly. Additionally, the plan did not include any plans for social and economic reconstruction (Campbell, 2008).
The reunification policies were very effective in the achievement of its goals. The policy was the best method of approaching reunification with the south. The plan also led to an increase of the power of the Republican Party within the southern states. At the end of the Civil War, the south was very underdeveloped politically and economically and 1865 there were close to four million recently released and uneducated former slaves. When President Andrew Johnson took over, he had more severe requirement for the wealthy southerners and confederates, but he was very focused on the rights of the freed slaves (Blight, 2013).
The reconstruction act that was finally implemented under President Johnson and it had two main requirements. First, the confederate states had to allow troops from the union to move in and occupy the South. Second, all the states that were to be accepted back into the union had to change their 14th Amendment to read that all men born in the country are citizens (Blight, 2013). This was aimed at guaranteeing the rights of the 4 million freed slaves living in the South. This ensured that a number of advances were made in protecting the rights of the freed slaves including being allowed to vote in 1870.
The efficacy of these policies would become more evident later with the signing of the compromise of 1877. The compromise of 1877 was arrived at after the two parties running for the presidency agreed on a compromise that would allow Hayes to be declared the winner. However, in the compromise the military occupation of the South had to be pulled. Without the military to guarantee the safety of the freed slaves, their rights were bound to be compromised (Campbell, 2008).
As a result of the compromise, most of the Southern states set up laws that were meant to restrict the freedoms of the freed black slaves – black codes. This meant that the protection laws that were put in place become ineffective with no one to ensure their proper implementation. The black codes led to more segregation and mistreatment of the freed slaves in the South.
The policies proposed by the reunification act were meant to foster the equal treatment of all citizens. Their proper implementation would have ensured that the rights of the freed slaves would have been identified across the United States. The compromise of 1877 showed that the policies put in place during the reunification would have been in the countries best interest. This would have ensured that discrimination would have been fixed much earlier.
In summary, the reconstruction ran from 1865 to 1877 targeted at reunifying the Union with the Southern states. The reconstruction era was mainly aimed at ensuring a swift reunion as well as to guarantee the rights and freedoms of the freed slaves. The policies set in place during the initial period of reunification were in the best interest of the country. The strategies proposed by President Lincoln was aimed at making it painless for the southern states to reunite (Blight, 2013).
When the Reunification act was implemented in 1970 one of the main areas of focus was the rights of the freed slaves. The freed slaves were uneducated, poor and looking to the government to protect their rights (Campbell, 2008). This was achieved with each state having to recognize the rights of the freed slaves before reunification. However, the compromise of 1877 led to the end of the military occupation of the south. This led the states to set up laws, black codes, which were aimed at restricting the rights of the black freed slaves.
Blight, D. (2013). Race and reunion (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Campbell, R. (2008). Grass-roots reconstruction in Texas, 1865-1880 (3rd ed.). Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
Life After the Civil War. (2016). Civilwar.com. Retrieved 14 April 2016, from http://www.civilwar.com/index.php/overview/soldier-life/148559-life-after-the-civil-war.html
Shackel, P. (2011). New Philadelphia. Berkeley: University of California Press.