African-American History. Reconstruction

477 words | 2 page(s)

The period of Reconstruction in America that lasted from 1865 to 1877 aimed at uniting the country and bringing of the era of slavery in the United States to the end. However, before the state completely abolished slavery, the country went through a chain of conflicts between both political actors, namely the President and Congress, and ordinary citizens living in the South and the North of the state. Each of them pursued their interests trying to win the struggle and demonstrate power.

After the tragic death of Abraham Lincoln, his post was assumed by President Johnson. Supporting the idea of his predecessor, he pursued the “idea of the son rising to higher economic level than the father (Du Bois, 2001, p. 28)” and suggested a new political plan. The newly appointed President was sure that the aims of Reconstruction were already gained, and there was no need to continue since the state was already unified. However, due to a high number of Radical Republicans in Congress, his new political program was not accepted, and Congress refused to include some southern states as parts of the country because of black codes accepted on those territories. The long-lasting opposition of the President and Congress ended in 1868 when the radical President Ulysses Grant won the elections and pursued active Reconstruction process together with Congress.

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However, the opposition existed not only among politicians but also among ordinary citizens. White Americans living in the South did not want to lose an opportunity of using the low-cost labor of African Americans. The latter, in their turn, wanted to enjoy full rights and freedoms of American citizens. This conflict of interests led to frequent violent clashes and the creation of racist organizations. Moreover, since most southern states did not follow the Constitution, complete political and economic destruction led to the real chaos there. At the same time, the North developed rather quickly and needed more people to work there, and African Americans could become those people (McPherson & Davis, 1964, p. 225). More than that, the North supported the policies pursued by the government and the President and was for the complete abolition of slavery.

Unluckily for the white southern slaveholders and luckily for the rest of the country, in 1877, the era of Reconstruction came to an end signifying complete abolition of slavery. The desire of American citizens and the country’s politicians to make the United States solid again and turn them into a democratic state motivated the President and Congress to search for common and more effective ways of solving the conflict. As a result, the South joined the process of development started by the North, and African Americans got a chance to participate in it as free people.

  • Du Bois, W. E. (2001). Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880. In Racism: Essential Readings (pp. 27-34). SAGE.
  • McPherson, J. M., & Davis, G. H. (1964). The Struggle for Equality. Princeton University Press.

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