The term reconstruction era was used to refer to the period of the post civil war time which engulfed the entire country of the US between the years 1965 to 1977. The word reconstruction was used to in reference of the policies which were being implemented during the reconstruction era which were meant to enable the United States win the civil war, to defeat confederacy, to abolish slave trade, for reconstruction of the constitution and also the nation. Reconstruction policies were made in the northern America immediately the war started and an emancipation proclamation was made in the year 1863 (Dunaway, pp 162).
Failure of the reconstruction
After this proclamation, the southern states allowed a loyal state government formation. During this time, Abraham Lincoln who was the then president of the United States was the one who made most of these policies. The real reconstruction began in 1865 in all the states which were being controlled by the federal troops. However, reconstruction at different states ended at different intervals. A compromise was reached in the year 1877 which led to the collapse of three state governments in the south which belonged to the republicans. This brought an end to the first reconstruction in the United States. However, some historians believe that this period extended to the year 1890s. Reconstruction has led to heated debates and conflicts which lasted until the 20th century (Halpern, & Lago, pp 135).
The southern part was left with a very bitter legacy at the close of the civil war; this was due to the fact that most of the former confederates remained alive and unpunished. This appeared to the majority of people that even if South was defeated the main political players who were supporting the confederacy were still in power more than ten years after Appomattox. The attitude of the white’s southerners remained unchanged; their hatred for the Negroes and the Northerners was very eminent among the Southerners (Halpern, & Lago, pp 186).
For a long period of time after the end of the war the mutual distrust that was felt by both Southerners and the Northerners continued to persist. This was very evident in the 1866 legislative elections which were very successful. They were won on the platform of anti Southernism. The 1867 Ohio elections fought the concern of the suffrage of black people. This acts as clear evidence how the support of the republican in the North was basically opposed to the former rebels and not committed to the reconstruction policies (Fradin, pp 208).
The African Americans in the northern part were being treated differently from the African blacks from the south. After slavery emancipation in the year 1865, the blacks who were on the northern part were released and they instead became slaves of laws which were in operation. In the southern part, slave trade though emancipated, it was not completely abolished which saw most rivalry from the African Americans. In the north, though violence was not rampant, the African Americans were being subjected to cold war with laws which were in operation segregating against the blacks. In the southern part, the blacks were subjected to more physical violence especially because slave trade was still being widely practiced. This led to demonstration and civil rights movement in America. This clearly indicated that reconstruction had not liberalized the blacks as they did not enjoy much freedom even after they ceased being slaves (Dunaway, pp 230).
Slavery emancipation did not in real sense lead to abolition of slave trade in the United States. Although theoretically slave trade was abolished, African Americans continued to suffer as they became the slaves of law which was segregating them. Initially, the blacks were not allowed to vote and discrimination was being practiced in job employment. However, the subsequent civil rights movement which persisted to the 1960s led to the enactment of civil rights act which gave the African Americans legal and civil rights marking the second reconstruction.
Dunaway, Wilma A. The African-American family in slavery and emancipation (2003): Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521012163.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell. The Emancipation Proclamation (2007): Marshall Cavendish. ISBN
Halpern, Rick & Lago, Enrico Dal, Slavery and emancipation (2002): Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 0631217355