In the history of the United States
History of the United States
The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

, the term "Reconstruction Era" has two senses: the first covers the entire nation in the period 1865–1877 following the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

; the second one, used in this article, covers the transformation of the Southern United States from 1863 to 1877, with the reconstruction of state and society in the former Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. In battles between the president and Congress, the president prevailed until the election of 1866, which enabled the Radical Republicans to take control of policy, remove from power the ex-Confederates, and enfranchise the Freedmen (freed slaves). A Republican coalition came to power in the southern states and set out to radically transform the society, with support from the Army and the Freedman's Bureau. Conservative white Democrats, alleging widespread corruption, counterattacked and regained power in each state by 1877, often with violence. The Freedmen became second class citizens, while most Southern whites became embittered toward the North and formed a Democratic "Solid South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....


In the different states, Reconstruction began and ended at different times; federal Reconstruction finally ended with the Compromise of 1877
Compromise of 1877
The Compromise of 1877, also known as the Corrupt Bargain, refers to a purported informal, unwritten deal that settled the disputed 1876 U.S. Presidential election and ended Congressional Reconstruction. Through it, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the White House over Democrat Samuel J...

. Reconstruction policies were debated in the North when the war began, and commenced after the Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

, issued on January 1, 1863. Reconstruction policies were implemented when a Confederate state came under the control of the Union Army. President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 set up reconstructed governments in several southern states during the war, including Tennessee
History of Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state, one of the 50 states of the United States. It was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796.-Prehistory:Paleo-Indians are believed to have hunted and camped in what is now Tennessee as early as 12,000 years ago...

, Arkansas
History of Arkansas
Arkansas was the 25th state admitted to the United States.-Exploration and early inhabitation:Indigenous peoples inhabited the area now known as Arkansas for thousands of years before the first European explorers....

, and Louisiana
History of Louisiana
The history of Louisiana is long and rich. From its earliest settlement by Native Americans to its status as linchpin of an empire to its incorporation as a U.S...

. He experimented with giving land to ex-slaves in South Carolina
History of South Carolina
South Carolina is one of the 13 original colonies of the United States. European exploration began in 1540, but the explorers brought European diseases that decimated the local Indian population. It was founded in 1663...

. Following Lincoln's assassination in April 1865, president Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 tried to follow Lincoln's policies and appointed new governors in the summer of 1865. Johnson quickly declared that the war goals of national unity and the ending of slavery had been achieved, so that reconstruction was completed. Republicans in Congress refused to accept Johnson's terms, rejected the new members of Congress elected by the South, and in 1865–66 broke with the president. A sweeping Republican victory in the 1866 Congressional elections in the North gave the Radical Republicans enough control of Congress that they overrode Johnson's vetoes and began what is called "Radical Reconstruction" in 1867.
Congress removed the civilian governments in the South in 1867 and put the former Confederacy under the rule of the U.S. Army. The army conducted new elections in which the freed slaves could vote, while those who held leading positions under the Confederacy were temporarily denied the vote and could not run for office.

In ten states, coalitions of freedmen, recent black and white arrivals from the North (carpetbagger
Carpetbaggers was a pejorative term Southerners gave to Northerners who moved to the South during the Reconstruction era, between 1865 and 1877....

s), and white Southerners who supported Reconstruction (scalawag
In United States history, scalawag was a derogatory nickname for southern whites who supported Reconstruction following the Civil War.-History:...

s) cooperated to form Republican biracial state governments. They introduced various reconstruction programs, including the founding of public schools in most states for the first time, and the establishment of charitable institutions. They raised taxes, which historically had been low as planters preferred to make private investments for their own purposes; offered massive aid to support railroads to improve transportation and shipping. Conservative opponents charged that Republican regimes were marred by widespread corruption. Violent opposition towards freedmen and whites who supported Reconstruction emerged in numerous localities under the name of the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 (KKK), a secret vigilante organization, which led to federal intervention by President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 in 1871 that closed down the Klan. Conservative white Democrats calling themselves "Redeemers
In United States history, "Redeemers" and "Redemption" were terms used by white Southerners to describe a political coalition in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction era which followed the American Civil War...

" regained control state by state, sometimes using fraud and violence to control state elections. A deep national economic depression following the Panic of 1873
Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1873 triggered a severe international economic depression in both Europe and the United States that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries. The depression was known as the Great Depression until the 1930s, but is now known as the Long Depression...

 led to major Democratic gains in the North, the collapse of many railroad schemes in the South, and a growing sense of frustration in the North.

The end of Reconstruction was a staggered process, and the period of Republican control ended at different times in different states. With the Compromise of 1877, Army intervention in the South ceased and Republican control collapsed in the last three state governments in the South. This was followed by a period that white Southerners labeled Redemption, in which white-dominated state legislatures enacted Jim Crow laws
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

 and (after 1890) disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites through a combination of constitutional amendments and electoral laws. The white Democrat Southerners' memory of Reconstruction played a major role in imposing the system of white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

 and second-class citizen
Second-class citizen
Second-class citizen is an informal term used to describe a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there...

ship for blacks, known as the age of Jim Crow. The Democratic Party monopolized the "New South
New South
New South, New South Democracy or New South Creed is a phrase that has been used intermittently since the American Civil War to describe the American South, after 1877. The term "New South" is used in contrast to the Old South of the plantation system of the antebellum period.The term has been used...

" into the 1960s, when the civil rights and voting rights of African Americans were finally protected and enforced under new federal laws passed by the US Congress.


Reconstruction addressed how the eleven seceding states would regain self-government and be reseated in Congress, the civil status of the former leaders of the Confederacy, and the Constitutional
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 and legal status of freedmen
A freedman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves became freedmen either by manumission or emancipation ....

, especially their civil rights and whether they should be given the right to vote. Violent controversy erupted throughout the South over these issues.

The laws and constitutional amendments that laid the foundation for the most radical phase of Reconstruction were adopted from 1866 to 1871. By the 1870s, Reconstruction had officially provided freedmen with equal rights under the constitution, and blacks were voting and taking political office. Republican legislatures, coalitions of whites and blacks, established the first public school systems and numerous charitable institutions in the South. Beginning in 1874, however, there was a rise in white paramilitary organizations, such as the White League
White League
The White League was a white paramilitary group started in 1874 that operated to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing. Its first chapter in Grant Parish, Louisiana was made up of many of the Confederate veterans who had participated in the...

 and Red Shirts in the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

, whose political aim was to drive out the Republicans. They also disrupted political organizing and terrorized blacks to bar them from the polls in Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina. From 1873 to 1877, conservative white Democrats (calling themselves "Redeemers") regained power in the states.

In the 1860s and 1870s the terms "radical" and "conservative" had distinctive meanings. "Conservatism" in this context generally indicates the mindset of the ruling elite of the planter class. Many leaders had been Whigs and were committed to modernization. Most of the "radical" Republicans in the North were men who believed in free enterprise and industrialization; most were also modernizers and ex-Whigs. The "Liberal Republicans" of 1872 shared the same outlook except they were especially opposed to the corruption they saw around President Grant, and believed that the goals had been achieved so that the federal intervention could now end.

Passage of the 13th
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

, 14th
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, and 15th
Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"...

 Amendments are constitutional legacies of Reconstruction. These Reconstruction Amendments
Reconstruction Amendments
The Reconstruction Amendments are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted between 1865 and 1870, the five years immediately following the Civil War...

 established the rights which, through extensive litigation, led to Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 rulings starting in the early 20th century that struck down discriminatory state laws. A "Second Reconstruction", sparked by the Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

, led to civil rights laws in 1964 and 1965 that protected and enforced full civic rights of African Americans.

Material devastation of the South in 1865

Reconstruction played out against a backdrop of a once prosperous economy in ruins. The Confederacy in 1861 had 297 towns and cities with a combined population of 835,000; of these, 162 with a 681,000 people were at one point occupied by Union forces. Eleven were destroyed or severely damaged by war action, including Atlanta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

; Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia is the state capital and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The population was 129,272 according to the 2010 census. Columbia is the county seat of Richland County, but a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. The city is the center of a metropolitan...

; and Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

; these eleven contained 115,900 people in the 1860 census, or 14% of the urban South. The number of people who lived in the destroyed towns represented just over 1% of the Confederacy's combined urban and rural populations. In addition, 45 courthouse
A courthouse is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English speaking countries, buildings which house courts of law are simply...

s were burned (out of 830), destroying the documentation for the legal relationships in the affected communities.

Farms were in disrepair, and the prewar stock of horses, mules and cattle was much depleted. The South's farms were not highly mechanized, but the value of farm implements and machinery in the 1860 Census was $81 million and was reduced by 40% by 1870. The transportation infrastructure lay in ruins, with little railroad or riverboat
A riverboat is a ship built boat designed for inland navigation on lakes, rivers, and artificial waterways. They are generally equipped and outfitted as work boats in one of the carrying trades, for freight or people transport, including luxury units constructed for entertainment enterprises, such...

 service available to move crops and animals to market. Railroad mileage was located mostly in rural areas and over two-thirds of the South's rails, bridges, rail yards, repair shops and rolling stock were in areas reached by Union armies, which systematically destroyed what they could. Even in untouched areas, the lack of maintenance and repair, the absence of new equipment, the heavy over-use, and the deliberate relocation of equipment by the Confederates from remote areas to the war zone ensured the system would be ruined at war's end. Restoring the infrastructure—especially the railroad system—became a high priority for Reconstruction state governments.

The enormous cost of the Confederate war effort took a high toll on the South's economic infrastructure. The direct costs to the Confederacy in human capital
Human capital
Human capitalis the stock of competencies, knowledge and personality attributes embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. It is the attributes gained by a worker through education and experience...

, government expenditures, and physical destruction from the war totaled $3.3 billion. By 1865, the Confederate dollar was worthless due to massive inflation, and people in the South had to resort to bartering services for goods, or else use scarce Union dollars. With the emancipation of the southern slaves, the entire economy of the South had to be rebuilt. Having lost their enormous investment in slaves, white planters had minimal capital to pay freedmen workers to bring in crops. As a result, a system of sharecropping
Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land . This should not be confused with a crop fixed rent contract, in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a fixed amount of...

 was developed where landowners broke up large plantations and rented small lots to the freedmen and their families. The South was transformed from a prosperous minority of landed gentry slaveholders into a tenant farming agriculture system.

The end of the Civil War was accompanied by a large migration of new freedpeople to the cities. In the cities, African Americans were relegated to the lowest paying jobs such as unskilled and service labor. Men worked as rail workers, rolling and lumber mills workers, and hotels workers. The large population of slave artisans during antebellum had not translated into a large number of freemen artisans during the Reconstruction. Black women were largely confined to domestic work employed as cooks, maids, and child nurses. Others worked in hotels. A large number became laundresses.

Per capita income for white southerners declined from $125 in 1857 to a low of $80 in 1879. By the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, the South was locked into a system of poverty. How much of this failure was caused by the war and by previous reliance on agriculture remains the subject of debate among economists and historians.

Restoring the South to the Union

During the Civil War, the Radical Republican leaders argued that slavery and the Slave Power
Slave power
The Slave Power was a term used in the Northern United States to characterize the political power of the slaveholding class of the South....

 had to be permanently destroyed, and that all forms of Confederate nationalism had to be suppressed. Moderates said this could be easily accomplished as soon as Confederate armies
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 surrendered and the Southern states repealed secession and accepted the 13th Amendment – most of which happened by December 1865.

President Lincoln was the leader of the moderate Republicans and wanted to speed up Reconstruction and reunite the nation painlessly and quickly. Lincoln formally began Reconstruction in late 1863 with his Ten percent plan
Ten percent plan
During the American Civil War in December 1863, Abraham Lincoln offered a model for reinstatement of Southern states called the 10 percent Reconstruction plan. It decreed that a state could be reintegrated into the Union when 10% of the 1860 vote count from that state had taken an oath of...

, which went into operation in several states but which Radical Republicans opposed. Lincoln vetoed the Radical plan, the Wade–Davis Bill of 1864, which was much more strict than the Ten-Percent Plan.

The opposing faction of Radical Republicans were skeptical of Southern intentions and demanded more stringent federal action. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens , of Pennsylvania, was a Republican leader and one of the most powerful members of the United States House of Representatives...

 and Senator Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction,...

 led the Radicals. Sumner argued that secession had destroyed statehood but the Constitution still extended its authority and its protection over individuals, as in the territories. Thaddeus Stevens and his followers viewed secession as having left the states in a status like new territories. The Republicans sought to prevent Southern politicians from "restoring the historic subordination of Negroes". Since slavery was abolished, the three-fifths compromise
Three-fifths compromise
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the...

 no longer applied to counting the population of blacks. After the 1870 census, the South would gain numerous additional representatives in Congress, based on the population of freedmen. One Illinois Republican expressed a common fear that if the South were allowed to simply restore its previous established powers, that the "reward of treason will be an increased representation".

Upon Lincoln's assassination
Abraham Lincoln assassination
The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and his battered Army of...

 in April 1865, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, who had been elected with Lincoln in 1864 on the ticket of the National Union Party
National Union Party (United States)
The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election, held during the Civil War. State Republican parties did not usually change their name....

 as the latter's vice president, became president. Johnson rejected the Radical program of harsh, lengthy Reconstruction and instead appointed his own governors and tried to finish reconstruction by the end of 1865. By early 1866, full-scale political warfare existed between Johnson (now allied with the Democrats) and the Radical Republicans; he vetoed laws and issued orders that contradicted Congressional legislation.

Congress rejected Johnson's argument that he had the war power to decide what to do, since the war was over. Congress decided it had the primary authority to decide how Reconstruction should proceed, because the Constitution stated the United States had to guarantee each state a republican form of government
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

. The Radicals insisted that meant Congress decided how Reconstruction should be achieved. The issues were multiple: who should decide, Congress or the president? How should republicanism operate in the South? What was the status of the Confederate states? What was the citizenship status of men who had supported the Confederacy? What was the citizenship and suffrage status of freedmen?

The election of 1866 decisively changed the balance of power, giving the Republicans two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress, and enough votes to overcome Johnson's vetoes. They moved to impeach Johnson because of his constant attempts to thwart Radical Reconstruction measures, by using the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson was acquitted by one vote, but he lost the influence to shape Reconstruction policy. See Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, was one of the most dramatic events in the political life of the United States during Reconstruction, and the first impeachment in history of a sitting United States president....

The Republican Congress established military districts in the South and used Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 personnel to administer the region until new governments loyal to the Union could be established. While Congress temporarily suspended the ability to vote of approximately 10,000 to 15,000 white men who had been Confederate officials or senior officers, constitutional amendments gave full citizenship and suffrage to former slaves.

With the power to vote, freedmen started participating in politics. While many slaves were illiterate, educated blacks (including escaped slaves) moved down from the North to aid them, and natural leaders also stepped forward. They elected white and black men to represent them in constitutional conventions. A Republican coalition of freedmen, southerners supportive of the Union (derisively called scalawags by white Democrats), and northerners who had migrated to the South (derisively called carpetbaggers—some of whom were returning natives, but were mostly Union veterans), organized to create constitutional conventions. They created new state constitutions to set new directions for southern states.


The issue of loyalty emerged in the debates over the Wade–Davis Bill of 1864. The bill required voters to take the "ironclad oath
Ironclad oath
The Ironclad Oath was a key factor in the removing of ex-Confederates from the political arena during the Reconstruction of the United States in the 1860s...

", swearing they had never supported the Confederacy or been one of its soldiers. Pursuing a policy of "malice toward none" announced in his second inaugural address, Lincoln asked voters only to support the Union. The Radicals lost support following Lincoln's veto of the Wade–Davis Bill but regained strength after Lincoln's assassination in April 1865.


Congress had to consider how to restore to full status and representation within the Union those southern states that had declared their independence from the United States and had withdrawn their representation. Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 for former Confederates was one of two main concerns. A decision needed to be made whether to allow just some or all former Confederates to vote (and to hold office). The moderates wanted virtually all of them to vote, but the Radicals resisted. They repeatedly tried to impose the ironclad oath, which would effectively have allowed no former Confederates to vote. Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 proposed, unsuccessfully, that all former Confederates lose the right to vote for five years. The compromise that was reached disfranchised many former Confederate civil and military leaders. No one knows how many temporarily lost the vote, but one estimate was 10,000 to 15,000.

Second, and closely related, was the issue of whether freedmen should be allowed to vote. The issue was how to receive the four million former slaves as citizens. If they were to be fully counted as citizens, some sort of representation for apportionment of seats in Congress had to be determined. Before the war, the population of slaves had been counted as three-fifths of a comparable number of free whites. By having four million freedmen counted as full citizens, the South would gain additional seats in Congress. If blacks were denied the vote and the right to hold office, then only whites would represent them. Many conservatives, including most white southerners, northern Democrats, and some northern Republicans, opposed black voting. Some northern states that had referendums on the subject limited the ability of their own small populations of blacks to vote.

Lincoln had supported a middle position to allow some black men to vote, especially army veterans. Johnson also believed that such service should be rewarded with citizenship. Lincoln proposed giving the vote to "the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks." In 1864, Governor Johnson said, "The better class of them will go to work and sustain themselves, and that class ought to be allowed to vote, on the ground that a loyal negro is more worthy than a disloyal white man." As President in 1865, Johnson wrote to the man he appointed as governor of Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, recommending, "If you could extend the elective franchise to all persons of color who can read the Constitution in English and write their names, and to all persons of color who own real estate valued at at least two hundred and fifty dollars, and pay taxes thereon, you would completely disarm the adversary [Radicals in Congress], and set an example the other states will follow."

Senators Charles Sumner of Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 and Thaddeus Stevens, leaders of the Radical Republicans, were initially hesitant to enfranchise the largely illiterate former slave population. Sumner preferred at first impartial requirements that would have imposed literacy restrictions on blacks and whites. He believed that he would not succeed in passing legislation to disfranchise illiterate whites who already had the vote.

In the South, many poor whites were illiterate as there was almost no public education before the war. In 1880, for example, the white illiteracy rate was about 25% in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, South Carolina, and Georgia; and as high as 33% in North Carolina. This compares with the 9% national rate, and a black rate of illiteracy that was over 70% in the South. By 1900, however, with emphasis within the black community on education, the majority of blacks had achieved literacy.

Sumner soon concluded that "there was no substantial protection for the freedman except in the franchise." This was necessary, he stated, "(1) For his own protection; (2) For the protection of the white Unionist; and (3) For the peace of the country. We put the musket in his hands because it was necessary; for the same reason we must give him the franchise." The support for voting rights was a compromise between moderate and Radical Republicans.

The Republicans believed that the best way for men to get political experience was to be able to vote and to participate in the political system. They passed laws allowing all male freedmen to vote. In 1867, black men voted for the first time. Over the course of Reconstruction, more than 1,500 African Americans held public office in the South; some of them were men who had escaped to the North and gained educations, and returned to the South. They did not hold office in numbers representative of their proportion in the population, but often elected whites to represent them. The question of women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 was also debated but was rejected.

From 1890 to 1908, southern states passed new constitutions and laws that disfranchised most blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites with new voter registration and electoral rules. When establishing new requirements such as subjectively administered literacy tests, in some states, they used "grandfather clauses" to enable illiterate whites to vote.

Lincoln's Presidential Reconstruction

Preliminary events

President Lincoln signed two Confiscation Acts
Confiscation Acts
The Confiscation Acts were laws passed by the United States Congress during the Civil War with the intention of freeing the slaves still held by the Confederate forces in the South....

 into law, the first on August 6, 1861, and the second on July 17, 1862, safeguarding fugitive slaves from the Confederacy that came over into Union lines and giving them indirect emancipation if their masters continued insurrection against the United States. The laws allowed the confiscation of lands for colonization from those who aided and supported the rebellion. However, these laws had limited effect as they were poorly funded by Congress and poorly enforced by Attorney General Edward Bates
Edward Bates
Edward Bates was a U.S. lawyer and statesman. He served as United States Attorney General under Abraham Lincoln from 1861 to 1864...


In August 1861, Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

, Union commander of the Western Department, declared martial law in Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, confiscated Confederate property, and emancipated their slaves. President Lincoln immediately ordered Frémont to rescind his emancipation declaration stating, "I think there is great danger that . . . the liberating slaves of traitorous owners, will alarm our Southern Union friends, and turn them against us – perhaps ruin our fair prospect for Kentucky." After Frémont refused to rescind the emancipation order, President Lincoln terminated him from active duty on November 2, 1861. Lincoln was concerned that border states would bolt from the Union if slaves were given their freedom. On May 26, 1862, Union Maj. Gen. David Hunter
David Hunter
David Hunter was a Union general in the American Civil War. He achieved fame by his unauthorized 1862 order emancipating slaves in three Southern states and as the president of the military commission trying the conspirators involved with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.-Early...

 emancipated slaves in South Carolina, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, and Florida stated all "persons ... heretofore held as slaves ... forever free." Lincoln, embarrassed by the order, rescinded Hunter's declaration and cancelled the emancipations.

On April 16, 1862 Lincoln signed a bill into law outlawing slavery in Washington D.C. and freeing the estimated 3,500 slaves in the city and on June 19, 1862 he signed legislation outlawing slavery in all U.S. territories. In July 1862, under the authority of the Confiscation Acts and an amended Force Bill of 1795, he authorized the recruitment of freed slaves into the Union army and seizure of any Confederate property for military purposes.

Gradual emancipation and compensation

In an effort to keep border states in the Union, President Lincoln as early as 1861 designed gradual compensated emancipation programs paid for by government bonds. Lincoln desired Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

, Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, and Missouri to "adopt a system of gradual emancipation which should work the extinction of slavery in twenty years." On March 26, 1862 Lincoln met with Senator Charles Sumner and recommended that a special joint session of Congress be conveyed to discuss giving financial aid to any border states who initiated a gradual emancipation plan. In April 1862, the joint session of Congress met, however, the border states were not interested and did not make any response to Lincoln or any Congressional emancipation proposal. Lincoln advocated compensated emancipation during the 1865 River Queen steamer conference.


In August 1862, President Lincoln met with African American leaders and urged them to colonize some place in Central America. Lincoln planned to free the slaves in the Emancipation Proclamation and he was concerned that freedmen would not be well treated in the United States by Whites both in the North and South. Although Lincoln gave assurances that the United States government would support and protect any colonies, the leaders declined the offer of colonization. Many free blacks had been opposed to colonization plans in the past and wanted to remain in the United States. President Lincoln persisted in his colonization plan believing that emancipation and colonization were part of the same program. Lincoln was successful by April, 1863 at sending black colonists to Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 and 453 to Chiriqui
Chiriquí Province
Chiriquí is a province of Panama, it is located on the western coast of Panama, and it is also the second most developed province in the country, after the Panamá Province. Its capital is the city of David. It has a total area of 6,490.9 km², with a population of 416,873 as of the year 2010...

 in Central America; however, none of the colonies was able to remain self-sufficient. Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing...

, a prominent 19th century American civil rights activist, criticized that Lincoln was "showing all his inconsistencies, his pride of race and blood, his contempt for Negroes and his canting hypocrisy." African Americans, according to Douglas, wanted citizen rights rather than to be colonized. By the end of 1863 President Lincoln gave up on African American colonization.

Military governors installed

Starting in March 1862, in an effort to forestall Reconstruction by the Radicals in Congress, President Lincoln installed military governors in certain rebellious states under Union military control. Although the states would not be recognized by the Radicals until an undetermined time, installation of military governors kept the administration of Reconstruction under Presidential control, rather than that of the increasingly unsympathetic Radical Congress. On March 3, 1862, Lincoln installed a loyalist Democrat Senator Andrew Johnson, as Military Governor with the rank of Brigadier General in his home state of Tennessee. In May, 1862, Lincoln appointed Edward Stanly
Edward Stanly
Edward W. Stanly was a North Carolina politician and orator who represented the southeastern portion of the State in the U.S. House for five terms. In 1857, Stanly ran for Governor of California but lost to John B. Weller. Politicians of the mid-nineteenth century remarked that Stanly bore a...

 Military Governor of the coastal region of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 with the rank of Brigadier General. Stanly resigned almost a year later when he angered Lincoln by closing two schools for black children in New Bern
New Bern, North Carolina
New Bern is a city in Craven County, North Carolina with a population of 29,524 as of the 2010 census.. It is located at the confluence of the Trent and the Neuse rivers...

. After Lincoln installed Brigadier General George F. Sheply as Military Governor of Louisiana in May, 1862, Sheply sent two anti-slavery representatives, Benjamin Flanders
Benjamin Flanders
Benjamin Franklin Flanders was appointed the 21st Governor of Louisiana during Reconstruction and was Mayor of New Orleans.-Early life:...

 and Michael Hahn
Michael Hahn
George Michael Hahn was the 19th Governor of Louisiana, Congressman, United States Senator during Reconstruction and after.-Early life:...

, elected in December, 1862, to the House which capitulated and voted to seat them. In July, 1862, Lincoln installed Colonel John S. Phelps
John S. Phelps
John Smith Phelps was a politician, soldier during the American Civil War, and the 23rd Governor of Missouri.-Early life and career:...

 as Military Governor of Arkansas, though he resigned soon after due to poor health.

Emancipation Proclamation

In July 1862, President Lincoln became convinced that "a military necessity" was needed to strike at slavery in order to win the Civil War for the Union. The Confiscation Acts were only having a minimal effect to end slavery. On July 22, he wrote a first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves in states in rebellion. Lincoln decided not to release the document until there was a Union victory in the battlefield. After he showed his cabinet the document, slight alterations were made in the wording. Then on September 22, 1862, George McClellan
George B. McClellan
George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

 defeated Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 at Antietam; the second draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was issued to the public the following day.
On January 1, 1863, the second part of the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, specifically naming ten states in which slaves would be "forever free". The proclamation did not name the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware, and specifically excluded numerous counties in some other states. Eventually, as the Union Armies advanced into the Confederacy millions of slaves were set free. Many of these freedmen joined the Union army and fought in battles against the Confederate forces.

Louisiana 10% electorate plan

President Abraham Lincoln was concerned to effect a speedy restoration of the Confederate states to the Union after the Civil War. In 1863, President Lincoln proposed a moderate plan for the Reconstruction of the captured Confederate State of Louisiana. The plan granted amnesty to Rebels who took an oath of loyalty to the Union. Black Freedmen workers were tied to labor on plantations for one year at $10 a month pay. Only 10% of the state's electorate had to take the loyalty oath in order for the state to be readmitted into U.S. Congress. The state was required to abolish slavery in its new constitution. Identical Reconstruction plans would be adopted in Arkansas and Tennessee. By December 1864, the Lincoln plan of Reconstruction had been enacted in Louisiana and the legislature sent two Senators and five Representatives to take their seats in Washington. However, Congress refused to count any of the votes from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, in essence rejecting Lincoln's moderate Reconstruction plan. Congress, at this time controlled by the Radicals, proposed the Wade–Davis Bill that required a majority of the state electorates to take the oath of loyalty to be admitted to Congress. Lincoln pocket-vetoed
Pocket veto
A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver in United States federal lawmaking that allows the President to veto a bill indirectly.The U.S. Constitution limits the President's period for decision on whether to sign or veto any legislation to ten days while the United States Congress is in session...

 the bill and the rift widened between the moderates, who wanted to save the Union and win the war, and the Radicals, who wanted to effect a more complete change within Southern society. Frederick Douglass denounced Lincoln's 10% electorate plan undemocratic since state admission and loyalty only depended on a minority vote.

Legalization of slave unions

Prior to 1864, slave marriages were not legally recognized; emancipation did not affect them. When freed, many former slaves made official marriages. Before emancipation, slaves could not enter into contracts, including the marriage contract. After emancipation, former slaves and whites both began to view the lack of officially recognized marriage for their unions as problematic. Not all free people formalized their unions. Some continued to have common-law marriages or community-recognized relationships. The acknowledgement of marriage by the state increased the state’s recognition of freedpeople as legal actors and eventually helped make the case for parental rights for freedpeople against the practice of apprenticeship of black children. These children were legally taken away from their families under the guise of “providing the with guardianship and ‘good’ homes until they reached the age of consent at twenty-one” under acts such as the Georgia 1866 Apprentice Act. Such children were generally used as sources of unpaid labor.

Freedmen's Bureau

On March 3, 1865 the Freedmen's Bureau Bill
Freedmen's Bureau Bill
The Freedmen's Bureau bills provided legislative authorization for the Freedmen's Bureau , which was set up by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 as part of the United States Army...

 became law, sponsored by the Republicans to aid freedmen and white refugees. A federal Bureau was created to provide food, clothing, fuel, and advice on negotiating labor contracts. It attempted to oversee new relations between freedmen and their former masters in a free labor market. The Act, without deference to a person's color, authorized the Bureau to lease confiscated land for a period of three years and to sell it in portions of up to 40 acres per buyer. The Bureau was to expire one year after the termination of the War. Lincoln was assassinated before he could appoint a commissioner of the Bureau. A popular myth was that the Act offered 40 acres and a mule
40 acres and a mule
40 acres and a mule refers to the short-lived policy, during the last stages of the American Civil War in 1865, of providing arable land to black former slaves who had become free as a result of the advance of the Union armies into the territory previously controlled by the Confederacy,...

, or that slaves had been promised this.

Bans color discrimination

Other legislation was signed that broadened equality and rights for African Americans. Lincoln outlawed discrimination on account of color, in carrying U.S. mail, in riding on public street cars in Washington D.C., and in pay for soldiers.

Feb. 1865 peace conference

Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

 met with three southern representatives to discuss the peaceful reconstruction of the Union and the Confederacy on February 3, 1865 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The southern delegation included Confederate vice-president, Alexander H. Stephens, John A. Campbell
John Archibald Campbell
John Archibald Campbell was an American jurist.Campbell was born near Washington, Georgia, to Col. Duncan Greene Campbell...

, and Robert M.T. Hunter. The southerners proposed the Union recognition of the Confederacy, a joint Union-Confederate attack on Mexico to oust dictator Maximillian
Maximilian I of Mexico
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire.After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico on April 10, 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy...

, and an alternative subordinate status of servitude for blacks rather than slavery. Lincoln flatly denied recognition of the Confederacy, and said that the slaves covered by his Emancipation Proclamation would not be re-enslaved. He said that the Union States were about to pass the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. Lincoln urged the governor of Georgia to remove Confederate troops and "ratify this Constitutional Amendment prospectively, so as to take effect—say in five years...Slavery is doomed." Lincoln also urged compensated emancipation for the slaves as he thought the North should be willing to share the costs of freedom. Although the meeting was cordial, the parties did not settle on agreements.

Historical legacy debated

Lincoln continued to advocate his Louisiana Plan as a model for all states up until his assassination on April 14, 1865. The plan successfully started the Reconstruction process of ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment in all states. Lincoln is typically portrayed as taking the moderate position and fighting the Radical positions. There is considerable debate on how well Lincoln, had he lived, would have handled Congress during the Reconstruction process that took place after the Civil War ended. One historical camp argues that Lincoln's flexibility, pragmatism, and superior political skills with Congress would have solved Reconstruction with far less difficulty. The other camp believes the Radicals would have attempted to impeach Lincoln, just as they did to his successor, Andrew Johnson, in 1868.

Johnson's presidential Reconstruction

Northern anger over the assassination of Lincoln and the immense human cost of the war led to vengeful demands for harsh policies. Vice President Andrew Johnson had taken a hard line and spoke of hanging rebel Confederates, but when he succeeded Lincoln as President, Johnson took a much softer line, pardoning many Confederate leaders and former Confederates. Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 was held in prison for two years, but other Confederate leaders were not. There were no treason trials. Only one person—Captain Henry Wirz
Henry Wirz
Heinrich Hartmann Wirz better known as Henry Wirz was a Confederate officer in the American Civil War...

, the commandant of the prison camp
Andersonville prison
The Andersonville prison, officially known as Camp Sumter, served as a Confederate Prisoner-of-war camp during the American Civil War. The site of the prison is now Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville, Georgia. Most of the site actually lies in extreme southwestern Macon County,...

 in Andersonville, Georgia
Andersonville, Georgia
Andersonville is a city in Sumter County, Georgia, United States. The population was 331 at the 2000 census . It is located in the southwest part of the state, about southwest of Macon, Georgia on the Central of Georgia railroad...

—was executed for war crimes. According historian Eric Foner, Andrew Johnson's conservative view of Reconstruction did not include blacks or former slaves involvement in government and he refused to heed Northern concerns when southern state legislatures implemented Black Codes that lowered the status of the freedmen similar to slavery.

Although resigned to the abolition of slavery, many former Confederates were not willing to accept the social changes nor political domination by former slaves. The defeated were unwilling to acknowledge that their society had changed. In the words of Benjamin F. Perry
Benjamin Franklin Perry
Benjamin Franklin Perry was the 72nd Governor of South Carolina, appointed by President Andrew Johnson in 1865 after the end of the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

, President Johnson's choice as the provisional governor of South Carolina: "First, the Negro is to be invested with all political power, and then the antagonism of interest between capital and labor is to work out the result."

The fears, however, of the mostly conservative planter elite and other leading white citizens were partly assuaged by the actions of President Johnson, who ensured that a wholesale land redistribution from the planters to the freedman did not occur. President Johnson ordered that confiscated or abandoned lands administered by the Freedman's Bureau would not be redistributed to the freedmen but be returned to pardoned owners. Land was returned that would have been forfeited under the Confiscation Acts passed by Congress in 1861 and 1862.

Freedmen and the enactment of Black Codes

Southern state governments quickly enacted the restrictive "black codes". However, they were abolished in 1866 and seldom had effect, because the Freedman's Bureau (not the local courts) handled the legal affairs of freedmen.

The Black Codes indicated the plans of the southern whites for the former slaves. The freedmen would have more rights than did free blacks before the war, but they still had only a limited set of second-class civil rights, no voting rights, and, since they were not citizens, they could not own firearms, serve on a jury in a lawsuit involving whites or move about without employment. The Black Codes would limit blacks' ability to control their own employment. The Black Codes outraged northern opinion. They were overthrown by the Civil Rights Act of 1866
Civil Rights Act of 1866
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, , enacted April 9, 1866, is a federal law in the United States that was mainly intended to protect the civil rights of African-Americans, in the wake of the American Civil War...

 that gave the freedmen full legal equality (except for the right to vote).

The freedmen rejected gang labor
Gang system
The gang system is a reference within slavery to a division of labor established on the plantation. It is the more brutal of two main types of labor systems. The other form, known as the Task System, was less harsh and allowed the slaves more autonomy than did the gang system...

 work patterns that had been used in slavery; with the strong backing of the Freedman's Bureau. Instead of gang labor, freedpeople preferred family-based labor groups. They forced planters to bargain for their labor. Such bargaining soon led to the establishment of the system of sharecropping, which gave the freedmen greater economic independence and social autonomy than gang labor. However, because they lacked capital and the planters continued to own the means of production (tools, draft animals and land), the freedmen were forced into producing cash crops (mainly cotton) for the land-owners and merchants, and they entered into a crop-lien system
Crop-lien system
The crop-lien system is a credit system that became widely used by farmers in the United States in the South from the 1860s to the 1920sAfter the American Civil War, farmers in the South had little cash. The crop-lien system was a way for farmers to get credit before the planting season by...

. Widespread poverty, disruption to an agricultural economy too dependent on cotton, and the falling price of cotton, led within decades to the routine indebtedness of the majority of the freedmen, and poverty by many planters.

Northern officials gave varying reports on conditions for the freedmen in the South. One harsh assessment came from Carl Schurz
Carl Schurz
Carl Christian Schurz was a German revolutionary, American statesman and reformer, and Union Army General in the American Civil War. He was also an accomplished journalist, newspaper editor and orator, who in 1869 became the first German-born American elected to the United States Senate.His wife,...

, who reported on the situation in the states along the Gulf Coast. His report documented dozens of extra-judicial killing
Extra-judicial killing
An extrajudicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Extrajudicial punishments are by their nature unlawful, since they bypass the due process of the legal jurisdiction in which they occur...

s and claimed that hundreds or thousands more African Americans were killed.
The number of murders and assaults perpetrated upon Negroes is very great; we can form only an approximative estimate of what is going on in those parts of the South which are not closely garrisoned, and from which no regular reports are received, by what occurs under the very eyes of our military authorities. As to my personal experience, I will only mention that during my two days sojourn at Atlanta, one Negro was stabbed with fatal effect on the street, and three were poisoned, one of whom died. While I was at Montgomery, one negro was cut across the throat evidently with intent to kill, and another was shot, but both escaped with their lives. Several papers attached to this report give an account of the number of capital cases that occurred at certain places during a certain period of time. It is a sad fact that the perpetration of those acts is not confined to that class of people which might be called the rabble.
Carl Schurz, "Report on the Condition of the South", December 1865 (U.S. Senate Exec. Doc. No. 2, 39th Congress, 1st session).

The report included sworn testimony from soldiers and officials of the Freedman's Bureau. In Selma, Alabama
Selma, Alabama
Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, Alabama, United States, located on the banks of the Alabama River. The population was 20,512 at the 2000 census....

, Major J.P. Houston noted that whites who killed 12 African Americans in his district never came to trial. Many more killings never became official cases. Captain Poillon described white patrols in southwestern Alabama

who board some of the boats; after the boats leave they hang, shoot, or drown the victims they may find on them, and all those found on the roads or coming down the rivers are almost invariably murdered. The bewildered and terrified freedmen know not what to do—to leave is death; to remain is to suffer the increased burden imposed upon them by the cruel taskmaster, whose only interest is their labor, wrung from them by every device an inhuman ingenuity can devise; hence the lash and murder is resorted to intimidate those whom fear of an awful death alone cause to remain, while patrols, Negro dogs and spies, disguised as Yankees, keep constant guard over these unfortunate people.

Much of the violence that was perpetrated against African Americans was shaped by gendered prejudices regarding African Americans. Black women were in a particularly vulnerable situation. To convict a white man of sexually assaulting black women in this period was exceedingly difficult. Black women were socially constructed as sexually avaricious and since they were portrayed as having little virtue, society held that they could not be raped. This contributed to numerous sexual crimes against black women in this period. For example, two freedwomen, Frances Thompson and Lucy Smith, describe their violent sexual assault during the Memphis Riots of 1866
Memphis Riots of 1866
The Memphis Riots of 1866 refers to the violent events that occurred from May 1 to 3 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by tensions during Reconstruction following the American Civil War...

. However, black women were vulnerable even in times of relative normalcy. Sexual assaults on African American women were so pervasive, particularly on the part of their white employers, that black men sought to reduce the contact between white males and black females by having the women in their family avoid doing work that was closely overseen by whites. Black men were construed as being extremely sexually aggressive and their supposed or rumored threats to white women were often used as a pretext for lynching
Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

 and castrations.

Moderate responses

During fall 1865, out of response to the Black codes and worrisome signs of Southern recalcitrance, the Radical Republicans blocked the readmission of the former rebellious states to the Congress. Johnson, however, was content with allowing former Confederate states into the Union as long as their state governments adopted the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. By December 6, 1865, the amendment was ratified and Johnson considered Reconstruction over. Johnson was following the moderate Lincoln Presidential Reconstruction policy to get the states readmitted as soon as possible. Lincoln died because of poisoning.

Congress, however, controlled by the Radicals, had other plans. The Radicals were led by Charles Sumner in the Senate and Thaddeus Stevens in the House of Representatives. Congress, on December 4, 1865, rejected Johnson's moderate Presidential Reconstruction, and organized the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, a 15-member panel to devise reconstruction requirements for the Southern states to be restored to the Union.

In January 1866, Congress renewed the Freedman's Bureau; however, Johnson vetoed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill in February 1866. Although Johnson had sympathies for the plights of the freedmen, he was against federal assistance. An attempt to override the veto failed on February 20, 1866. This veto shocked the Congressional Radicals. In response, both the Senate and House passed a joint resolution not to allow any Senator or Representative seat admittance until Congress decided when Reconstruction was finished.

Senator Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull was a United States Senator from Illinois during the American Civil War, and co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.-Education and early career:...

 of Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, leader of the moderate Republicans, took affront at the black codes. He proposed the first Civil Rights Law, because the abolition of slavery was empty if
laws are to be enacted and enforced depriving persons of African descent of privileges which are essential to freemen... A law that does not allow a colored person to go from one county to another, and one that does not allow him to hold property, to teach, to preach, are certainly laws in violation of the rights of a freeman... The purpose of this bill is to destroy all these discriminations.

The key to the bill was the opening section:
All persons born in the United States ... are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States; and such citizens of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery ... shall have the same right in every State make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties and to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Congress quickly passed the Civil Rights bill; the Senate on February 2 voted 33–12; the House on March 13 voted 111–38.

Johnson's vetoes

Although strongly urged by moderates in Congress to sign the Civil Rights bill, Johnson broke decisively with them by vetoing it on March 27, 1866. His veto message objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when eleven out of thirty-six states were unrepresented and attempted to fix by Federal law "a perfect equality of the white and black races in every State of the Union." Johnson said it was an invasion by Federal authority of the rights of the States; it had no warrant in the Constitution and was contrary to all precedents. It was a "stride toward centralization and the concentration of all legislative power in the national government."

The Democratic Party, proclaiming itself the party of white men, north and south, supported Johnson. However the Republicans in Congress overrode his veto (the Senate by the close vote of 33:15, the House by 122:41) and the Civil Rights bill became law. Congress also passed a toned down Freedmen's Bureau Bill; Johnson quickly vetoed as he had done to the previous bill. This time, however, Congress had enough support and overrode Johnson's veto.

The last moderate proposal was the Fourteenth Amendment, whose principal drafter was Representative John Bingham
John Bingham
John Armor Bingham was a Republican congressman from Ohio, America, judge advocate in the trial of the Abraham Lincoln assassination and a prosecutor in the impeachment trials of Andrew Johnson...

. It was designed to put the key provisions of the Civil Rights Act into the Constitution, but it went much further. It extended citizenship to everyone born in the United States (except visitors and Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 on reservations), penalized states that did not give the vote to freedmen, and most importantly, created new federal civil rights that could be protected by federal courts. It guaranteed the Federal war debt would be paid (and promised the Confederate debt would never be paid). Johnson used his influence to block the amendment in the states since three-fourths of the states were required for ratification (the amendment was later ratified.). The moderate effort to compromise with Johnson had failed, and a political fight broke out between the Republicans (both Radical and moderate) on one side, and on the other side, Johnson and his allies in the Democratic party in the North, and the conservative groupings (which used different names) in each southern state.

Congress imposes Radical Reconstruction

Concerned that President Johnson viewed Congress as an "illegal body" and was attempting to overthrow the government, Republicans in Congress took control of Reconstruction policies after the election of 1866. Johnson ignored the policy mandate, and he openly encouraged southern states to deny to ratify the 14th Amendment (except for Tennessee, all former Confederate states did refuse to ratify, as did the border states of Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky). Radical Republicans in Congress, led by Stevens and Sumner, opened the way to suffrage for male freedmen. They were generally in control, although they had to compromise with the moderate Republicans (the Democrats in Congress had almost no power). Historians generally refer to this period as Radical Reconstruction.

The South's white leaders, who held power in the immediate postwar era before the vote was granted to the freedmen, renounced secession and slavery, but not white supremacy. People who had previously held power were angered in 1867 when new elections were held. New Republican lawmakers were elected by a coalition of white Unionists, freedmen and northerners who had settled in the South. Some leaders in the South tried to accommodate to new conditions.

Constitutional amendments

Three Constitutional amendments, known as the Reconstruction Amendments, were adopted. The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was ratified in 1865. The 14th Amendment was proposed in 1866 and ratified in 1868, guaranteeing United States citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States and granting them federal civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

. The 15th Amendment, proposed in late February 1869 and passed in early February 1870, decreed that the right to vote could not be denied because of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". The amendment did not declare the vote an unconditional right; it prohibited these types of discrimination. States would still determine voter registration and electoral laws. The amendments were directed at ending slavery and providing full citizenship to freedmen. Northern Congressmen believed that providing black men with the right to vote would be the most rapid means of political education and training.

While many blacks took an active part in voting and political life, and rapidly continued to build churches and community organizations, following Reconstruction white Democrats and insurgent groups used force to regain power in the state legislatures, and pass laws that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites in the South. Early Supreme Court rulings around the turn of the century upheld many of these new southern constitutions and laws, and most blacks were prevented from voting in the South until the 1960s. Full federal enforcement of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments did not occur until passage of legislation in the mid-1960s as a result of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968).

For details, see:
  • Redemption (United States history)
  • Disfranchisement after Reconstruction era (United States)
  • Jim Crow laws
    Jim Crow laws
    The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

  • United States v. Cruikshank
    United States v. Cruikshank
    United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 was an important United States Supreme Court decision in United States constitutional law, one of the earliest to deal with the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment.-Background:On Easter...

    (1875), which was a response to the Colfax Massacre
    Colfax massacre
    The Colfax massacre or Colfax Riot occurred on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana, the seat of Grant Parish, during Reconstruction, when white militia attacked freedmen at the Colfax courthouse...

  • Posse Comitatus Act
    Posse Comitatus Act
    The Posse Comitatus Act is an often misunderstood and misquoted United States federal law passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction. Its intent was to limit the powers of local governments and law enforcement agencies from using federal military personnel to enforce the laws of...

  • Civil Rights Cases
    Civil Rights Cases
    The Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 , were a group of five similar cases consolidated into one issue for the United States Supreme Court to review...

  • African-American Civil Rights Movement (1896–1954)
  • Plessy v. Ferguson
    Plessy v. Ferguson
    Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses , under the doctrine of "separate but equal".The decision was handed...

  • Williams v. Mississippi
    Williams v. Mississippi
    Williams v. Mississippi, 170 U.S. 213 is a United States Supreme Court case that reviewed provisions of the state constitution that set requirements for voter registration...

  • Giles v. Harris
    Giles v. Harris
    Giles v. Harris, 189 U.S. 475 , was an early 20th century United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld a state constitution's requirements for voter registration and qualifications...



Congress clarified the scope of the federal writ of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

 to allow federal courts to vacate unlawful state court convictions or sentences in 1867 (28 U.S.C. §2254).

Military reconstruction

With the Radicals in control, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act
Reconstruction Act
After the end of the Civil War, as part of the on-going process of Reconstruction, the United States Congress passed four statutes known as Reconstruction Acts...

s on July 19, 1867. The first Reconstruction Act placed ten Confederate states under military control, grouping them into five military districts:
  • First Military District
    First Military District
    The First Military District existed in the American South during the Reconstruction era that followed the American Civil War included Virginia. The district was commanded by General John Schofield....

    : Virginia, under General John Schofield
    John Schofield
    John McAllister Schofield was an American soldier who held major commands during the American Civil War. He later served as U.S. Secretary of War and Commanding General of the United States Army.-Early life:...

  • Second Military District
    Second Military District
    The Second Military District existed in the American South during the Reconstruction era that followed the American Civil War included North and South Carolina. Originally commanded by General Daniel E. Sickles, after his removal by President Andrew Johnson on August 26, 1867, General Edward Canby...

    : North Carolina and South Carolina, under General Daniel Sickles
    Daniel Sickles
    Daniel Edgar Sickles was a colorful and controversial American politician, Union general in the American Civil War, and diplomat....

  • Third Military District
    Third Military District
    The Third Military District existed in the American South during the Reconstruction era that followed the American Civil War. It comprises Georgia, Florida and Alabama and was headquartered in Atlanta....

    : Georgia, Alabama and Florida, under General John Pope
    John Pope (military officer)
    John Pope was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He had a brief but successful career in the Western Theater, but he is best known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the East.Pope was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in...

     and George Meade
    George Meade
    George Gordon Meade was a career United States Army officer and civil engineer involved in coastal construction, including several lighthouses. He fought with distinction in the Second Seminole War and Mexican-American War. During the American Civil War he served as a Union general, rising from...

  • Fourth Military District
    Fourth Military District
    The Fourth Military District existed in the American South during the Reconstruction era that followed the American Civil War. It included the occupation troops in the states of Arkansas and Mississippi...

    : Arkansas and Mississippi, under General Edward Ord
    Edward Ord
    Edward Otho Cresap Ord was the designer of Fort Sam Houston, and a United States Army officer who saw action in the Seminole War, the Indian Wars, and the American Civil War. He commanded an army during the final days of the Civil War, and was instrumental in forcing the surrender of Confederate...

  • Fifth Military District
    Fifth Military District
    The 5th Military District was a temporary administrative unit of the United States set up during the Reconstruction period following the American Civil War. It included Texas, from Brazos Santiago Harbor, , at the Mexican border, north to Louisiana. General Philip Sheridan served as its first...

    : Texas and Louisiana, under Generals Philip Sheridan
    Philip Sheridan
    Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

     and Winfield Scott Hancock
    Winfield Scott Hancock
    Winfield Scott Hancock was a career U.S. Army officer and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican-American War and as a Union general in the American Civil War...

20,000 U.S. troops were deployed to enforce the Act.

Tennessee was not made part of a military district (having already been readmitted to the Union), and therefore federal controls did not apply.

The ten Southern state governments were re-constituted under the direct control of the United States Army. One major purpose was to recognize and protect the right of African Americans to vote. There was little or no combat, but rather a state of martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 in which the military closely supervised local government, supervised elections, and tried to protect office holders and freedmen from violence. Blacks were enrolled as voters; former Confederate leaders were excluded for a limited period.[Foner 1988 p 274–5] No one state was entirely representative. Randolph Campbell describes what happened in Texas:

The first critical step ... was the registration of voters according to guidelines established by Congress and interpreted by Generals Sheridan and Charles Griffin. The Reconstruction Acts called for registering all adult males, white and black, except those who had ever sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and then engaged in rebellion.... Sheridan interpreted these restrictions stringently, barring from registration not only all pre-1861 officials of state and local governments who had supported the Confederacy but also all city officeholders and even minor functionaries such as sextons of cemeteries. In May Griffin ... appointed a three-man board of registrars for each county, making his choices on the advice of known scalawags and local Freedman's Bureau agents. In every county where practicable a freedman served as one of the three registrars.... Final registration amounted to approximately 59,633 whites and 49,479 blacks. It is impossible to say how many whites were rejected or refused to register (estimates vary from 7,500 to 12,000), but blacks, who constituted only about 30 percent of the state's population, were significantly overrepresented at 45 percent of all voters.

All Southern states were readmitted to representation in Congress by the end of 1870, the last being Georgia. All but 500 top Confederate leaders were pardoned when President Grant signed the Amnesty Act of 1872.

Grant: the Radical President

During the Civil War, many in the North believed that fighting for the Union was a noble cause – for the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery. After the war ended, with the North victorious, the fear among Radicals was that President Johnson too quickly assumed that slavery and Confederate nationalism were dead and that the southern states could return. The Radicals sought out a candidate for President who represented their viewpoint.

In 1868, the Republicans unanimously chose Ulysses S. Grant to be the Republican Presidential candidate. Grant won favor with the Radicals after he allowed Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin McMasters Stanton was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln Administration during the American Civil War from 1862–1865...

, a Radical, to be reinstated as Secretary of War. As early as 1862, during the Civil War, Grant had appointed the Ohio military chaplain John Eaton
John Eaton (General)
For other people named John Eaton, see John Eaton .John Eaton, Jr. was a U.S. Commissioner of Education and a brevet brigadier general during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 to protect and gradually incorporate refugee slaves in west Tennessee and northern Mississippi into the Union War effort, and pay them for their labor. It was the beginning of his vision for the Freedmen's Bureau. Grant opposed President Johnson by supporting the Reconstruction Acts passed by the Radicals.

In Grant's two terms he strengthened Washington's legal capabilities. He worked with Congress to create the Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 and Office of Solicitor General, led by Attorney General Amos Akerman and the first Solicitor General Benjamin Bristow
Benjamin Bristow
Benjamin Helm Bristow was an American lawyer and Republican Party politician who served as the first Solicitor General of the United States and as a U.S. Treasury Secretary. Fighting for the Union, Bristow served in the army during the American Civil War and was promoted to Colonel...

, who both prosecuted thousands of Klansmen under the Force Acts
Force Acts
Force Acts can refer to several groups of acts passed by the United States Congress. The term usually refers to the events after the American Civil War.-Andrew Jackson's Tariff Enforcement :The Force Bill, 4 Stat...

. Grant sent additional federal troops to nine South Carolina counties to suppress Klan violence in 1871. Grant also used military pressure to ensure that African Americans could maintain their new electoral status; endorsed the Fifteenth Amendment giving African Americans the right to vote; and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875
Civil Rights Act of 1875
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was a United States federal law proposed by Senator Charles Sumner and Representative Benjamin F. Butler in 1870...

 giving people access to public facilities regardless of race. To counter vote fraud in the Democratic stronghold of New York City, Grant sent in tens of thousands of armed, uniformed federal marshals and other election officials to regulate the 1870 and subsequent elections. Democrats across the North then mobilized to defend their base and attacked Grant's entire set of policies.

Grant's support from Congress and the nation declined due to presidential scandals during his administration and the political resurgence of the Democrats in the North and South. Furthermore most Republicans felt the war goals had been achieved by 1870 and turned their attention to other issues such as financial and monetary policies.

Congressional investigation (1871–1872)

On April 20, 1871, the U.S. Congress launched a 21-member investigation committee on the status of the Southern Reconstruction states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Congressional members on the committee included Rep. Benjamin Butler
Benjamin Butler
Benjamin Butler may refer to:*Benjamin Franklin Butler , U.S. lawyer who served as Attorney General, 1833–1838*Benjamin Franklin Butler , U.S. political figure; general in American Civil War; Governor of Massachusetts*Benjamin Butler Painter...

, Sen. Zachariah Chandler
Zachariah Chandler
Zachariah Chandler was Mayor of Detroit , a four-term U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan , and Secretary of the Interior under U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant .-Family:...

, and Sen. Francis P. Blair. Subcommittee members traveled into the South to interview the people living in their respective states. Those interviewed included top-ranking officials, such as Wade Hampton
Wade Hampton III
Wade Hampton III was a Confederate cavalry leader during the American Civil War and afterward a politician from South Carolina, serving as its 77th Governor and as a U.S...

, former South Carolina Gov. James L. Orr, and Nathan B. Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He is remembered both as a self-educated, innovative cavalry leader during the war and as a leading southern advocate in the postwar years...

, a former Confederate general and prominent Ku Klux Klan leader. Others southerners interviewed included farmers, doctors, merchants, teachers, and clergymen. The committee heard numerous reports of white violence against blacks, while many whites denied Klan membership or knowledge of violent activities. The majority report by Republicans concluded that the government would not tolerate any Southern "conspiracy" to resist violently the Congressional Reconstruction. The committee completed its 13-volume report in February 1872. While Grant had been able to suppress the KKK through the Force Acts, other paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 insurgents organized, including the White League
White League
The White League was a white paramilitary group started in 1874 that operated to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing. Its first chapter in Grant Parish, Louisiana was made up of many of the Confederate veterans who had participated in the...

 in 1874, active in Louisiana; and the Red Shirts, with chapters active in Mississippi and the Carolinas. They used intimidation and outright attacks to run Republicans out of office and repress voting by blacks, leading to white Democrats regaining power by the elections of the mid to late 1870s.

Readmission to representation in Congress

  • Tennessee – July 24, 1866
  • Arkansas – June 22, 1868
  • Florida – June 25, 1868
  • North Carolina – July 4, 1868
  • South Carolina – July 9, 1868
  • Louisiana – July 9, 1868
  • Alabama – July 13, 1868
  • Virginia – January 26, 1870
  • Mississippi – February 23, 1870
  • Texas – March 30, 1870
  • Georgia – July 15, 1870

African-American officeholders

Republicans took control of all Southern state governorships and state legislatures, except for Virginia. The Republican coalition elected numerous African Americans to local, state, and national offices, but they did not dominate the electoral offices. About 137 black officeholders had lived outside the South before the Civil War. Some had escaped from slavery to the North, become educated, and returned to help the South advance in the postwar era. Others were free blacks before the war, who had achieved education and positions of leadership elsewhere. Other African-American men who served were already leaders in their communities, including a number of preachers. As happened in white communities, not all leadership depended upon wealth and literacy.
Race of delegates to 1867
state constitutional conventions
State White Black % White Statewide
(% in 1870)
Virginia 80 25 76 58
North Carolina 107 13 89 63
South Carolina 48 76 39 41
Georgia 133 33 80 54
Florida 28 18 61 51
Alabama 92 16 85 52
Mississippi 68 17 80 46
Louisiana 25 44 36 50
Texas 81 9 90 69

There were few African Americans elected or appointed to national office. African Americans voted for white candidates and for blacks. The Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed the right to vote, but did not guarantee that the vote would be counted or the districts would be apportioned equally. As a result, states with majority African-American population often elected only one or two African-American representatives in Congress. Exceptions included South Carolina; at the end of Reconstruction, four of its five Congressmen were African American.
African Americans in Office 1870–1876
|- bgcolor="#B0C4DE"
State State
Alabama 69 0 4
Arkansas 8 0 0
Florida 30 0 1
Georgia 41 0 1
Louisiana 87 0 1*
John Willis Menard
John Willis Menard was the first African American elected to the United States Congress.Menard was born in Kaskaskia, Illinois, to parents of Louisiana Creole descent from New Orleans who were free people of color. He may have been related to Michel Branamour Menard, a French-Canadian fur trader...

Mississippi 112 2 1
North Carolina 30 0 1
South Carolina 190 0 6
Tennessee 1 0 0
Texas 19 0 0
Virginia 46 0 0
Total 633 2 15

Public schools

W. E. B. Du Bois argued that the freedmen had a deep commitment to education and that African Americans in the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 coalition played a critical role in establishing the principal of universal public education in state constitutions during congressional Reconstruction. Some slaves learned to read from white playmates although formal education was not allowed by law; African Americans started "native schools" before the end of the war; Sabbath schools were another widespread means freedmen created for teaching literacy. When they gained suffrage, black politicians took this commitment to public education to state constitutional conventions.

African Americans and white Republicans joined to build education at the state level. They created a system of public schools, which were segregated by race everywhere except New Orleans. Generally, elementary and a few secondary schools were built in most cities, and occasionally in the countryside, but the South had few cities.

In the rural areas the public school was often a one-room affair that attracted about half the younger children. The teachers were poorly paid, and their pay was often in arrears. Conservatives contended the rural schools were too expensive and unnecessary for a region where the vast majority of people were cotton or tobacco farmers. They had no vision of a better future for their residents. One historian found that the schools were less effective than they might have been because "poverty, the inability of the states to collect taxes, and inefficiency and corruption in many places prevented successful operation of the schools."
Numerous private academies and colleges for freedmen were established by northern missionaries. Every state created state colleges for freedmen, such as Alcorn State University
Alcorn State University
Alcorn State University is an historically black university comprehensive land-grant institution in Lorman, Mississippi. It was founded in 1871-History:...

 in Mississippi. The state colleges created generations of teachers who were critical in the education of African American children.

In 1890, the black state colleges started receiving federal funds as land grant schools. They received state funds after Reconstruction ended because, as Lynch explains, "there are very many liberal, fair-minded and influential Democrats in the State who are strongly in favor of having the State provide for the liberal education of both races."

Railroad subsidies and payoffs

Every Southern state subsidized railroads, which modernizers felt could haul the South out of isolation and poverty. Millions of dollars in bonds and subsidies were fraudulently pocketed. One ring in North Carolina spent $200,000 in bribing the legislature and obtained millions in state money for its railroads. Instead of building new track, however, it used the funds to speculate in bonds, reward friends with extravagant fees, and enjoy lavish trips to Europe. Taxes were quadrupled across the South to pay off the railroad bonds and the school costs. There were complaints among taxpayers, because taxes had historically been low, since there was so little commitment to public works or public education. Taxes historically had been much lower than in the North, reflecting a lack of public investment in the communities. Nevertheless thousands of miles of lines were built as the Southern system expanded from 11,000 miles (17,700 km) in 1870 to 29,000 miles (46,700 km) in 1890. The lines were owned and directed overwhelmingly by Northerners. Railroads helped create a mechanically skilled group of craftsmen and broke the isolation of much of the region. Passengers were few, however, and apart from hauling the cotton crop when it was harvested, there was little freight traffic. As Franklin explains, "numerous railroads fed at the public trough by bribing legislators...and through the use and misuse of state funds." The effect, according to one businessman, "was to drive capital from the State, paralyze industry, and demoralize labor."

Taxation during Reconstruction

Reconstruction changed the tax structure of the South. In the U.S. from the earliest days until today, a major source of state revenue was the property tax
Property tax
A property tax is an ad valorem levy on the value of property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located; it may be paid to a national government, a federated state or a municipality...

. In the South, wealthy landowners were allowed to self-assess the value of their own land. These fraudulent assessments were almost valueless, and pre-war property tax collections were lacking due to property value misrepresentation. State revenues came from fees and from sales taxes on slave auctions. Some states assessed property owners by a combination of land value
Land value tax
A land value tax is a levy on the unimproved value of land. It is an ad valorem tax on land that disregards the value of buildings, personal property and other improvements...

 and a capitation tax, a tax on each worker employed. This tax was often assessed in a way to discourage a free labor market, where a slave was assessed at 75 cents, while a free white was assessed at a dollar or more, and a free African American at $3 or more. Some revenue also came from poll tax
Poll tax
A poll tax is a tax of a portioned, fixed amount per individual in accordance with the census . When a corvée is commuted for cash payment, in effect it becomes a poll tax...

es. These taxes were more than poor people could pay, with the designed and inevitable consequence that they did not vote.

During Reconstruction, new spending on schools and infrastructure, combined with fraudulent spending and a collapse in state credit because of huge deficits, forced the states to dramatically increase property tax rates. In places, the rate went up to ten times higher—despite the poverty of the region. The infrastructure of much of the South—roads, bridges, and railroads—scarce and deficient even before the war—had been destroyed during the war. In addition, there were other new expenditures, because pre-war southern states did not educate their citizens or build and maintain much infrastructure. In part, the new tax system was designed to force owners of large estates with huge tracts of uncultivated land either to sell or to have it confiscated for failure to pay taxes. The taxes would serve as a market-based system for redistributing the land to the landless freedmen and white poor.

Here is a table of property tax rates for South Carolina and Mississippi. Note that many local town and county assessments effectively doubled the tax rates reported in the table. These taxes were still levied upon the landowners' own sworn testimony as to the value of their land, which remained the dubious and exploitable system used by wealthy landholders in the South well into the 20th century.
State Property Tax Rates during Reconstruction
Year South Carolina Mississippi
1869 5 mills (0.5 %) 1 mill (0.1 %) (lowest rate between 1822 and 1898)
1870 9 mills 5 mills
1871 7 mills 4 mills
1872 12 mills 8.5 mills
1873 12 mills 12.5 mills
1874 10.3–8 mills 14 mills (1.4%) "a rate which virtually amounted to confiscation" (highest rate between 1822 and 1898)
1875 11 mills
1876 7 mills
Source J. S. Reynolds, Reconstruction in South Carolina, 1865–1877, (Columbia, SC: The State Co., 1905) p. 329. J. H. Hollander,Studies in State Taxation with Particular Reference to the Southern States, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1900) p. 192.

Called upon to pay an actual tax on their property, angry plantation owners revolted. The conservatives shifted their focus away from race to taxes. Former Congressman John R. Lynch
John R. Lynch
John Roy Lynch was the first African-American Speaker of the House in Mississippi. He was also one of the first African-Americans elected to the U.S House of Representatives during Reconstruction, the period in United States history after the Civil War.-Biography:Lynch was born a slave near...

, a black Republican leader from Mississippi, concluded,
The argument made by the taxpayers, however, was plausible and it may be conceded that, upon the whole, they were about right; for no doubt it would have been much easier upon the taxpayers to have increased at that time the interest-bearing debt of the State than to have increased the tax rate. The latter course, however, had been adopted and could not then be changed.

Conservative Democrat reaction

The fact that their former slaves now held political and military power angered many whites. They self-consciously defended their own actions within the framework of an Anglo-American discourse of resistance against tyrannical government, and they broadly succeeded in convincing fellow (white) citizens. They formed new political parties (often with the intention to contest elections), and supported or tolerated violent activist groups that intimidated both black and white Republican leaders at election time. By the mid 1870s, the Conservative Democrats had aligned with the national Democratic Party, which enthusiastically supported their cause even as the national Republican Party was losing interest in Southern affairs. Historian Walter Lynwood Fleming
Walter Lynwood Fleming
Walter Lynwood Fleming was an American historian of the South and Reconstruction. He was a leader of the Dunning School of scholars which rewrote Reconstruction history using modern historiographical techniques in the early 20th century, but was later criticized by neoabolitionist historians for...

 describes mounting anger of Southern whites:

The Negro troops, even at their best, were everywhere considered offensive by the native whites... The Negro soldier, impudent by reason of his new freedom, his new uniform, and his new gun, was more than Southern temper could tranquilly bear, and race conflicts were frequent.

Most [white] members of both the planter/business class and common farmer class of the South opposed black power, Carpetbaggers and military rule, and sought white supremacy. Democrats nominated blacks for political office and tried to steal other blacks from the Republican side. When these attempts to combine with the blacks failed, the planters joined the common farmers in simply trying to displace the Republican governments. The planters and their business allies dominated the self-styled "conservative: coalition that finally took control in the South. They were paternalistic toward the blacks but feared they would use power to raise taxes and slow business development.

Fleming is a typical example of the conservative interpretation of Reconstruction. His work defended some roles in opposing military oppression by the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) but denounced the Klan's violence. Fleming accepted as necessary the disenfranchisement of African Americans because he thought their votes were bought and sold by Carpetbaggers. Fleming described the first results of the movement as "good" and the later ones as "both good and bad." According to Fleming (1907) the KKK "quieted the Negroes, made life and property safer, gave protection to women, stopped burnings, forced the Radical leaders to be more moderate, made the Negroes work better, drove the worst of the Radical leaders from the country and started the whites on the way to gain political supremacy."

The evil result, Fleming said, was that lawless elements "made use of the organization as a cloak to cover their misdeeds... the lynching habits of today [1907] are largely to conditions, social and legal, growing out of Reconstruction."

Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer
Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer
Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer was an American biographer and historical writer...

 (a northern scholar) in 1917 explained:
Outrages upon the former slaves in the South there were in plenty. Their sufferings were many. But white men, too, were victims of lawless violence, and in all portions of the North and the late "rebel" states. Not a political campaign passed without the exchange of bullets, the breaking of skulls with sticks and stones, the firing of rival club-houses. Republican clubs marched the streets of Philadelphia, amid revolver shots and brickbats, to save the negroes from the "rebel" savages in Alabama... The project to make voters out of black men was not so much for their social elevation as for the further punishment of the Southern white people—for the capture of offices for Radical scamps and the entrenchment of the Radical party in power for a long time to come in the South and in the country at large.

Reaction by the angry whites included the formation of violent secret societies, especially the KKK. Violence occurred in cities with Democrats, Conservatives and other angry whites on one side and Republicans, African-Americans, federal government representatives, and Republican-organized armed Loyal Leagues on the other. The victims of this violence were overwhelmingly African American. The Klan and other such groups were careful to avoid federal legal intervention or military conflict. Their election-time tactics included violent intimidation of African American and Republican voters prior to elections while avoiding conflict with the U.S. Army or the state militias and then withdrawing completely on election day. Conservative reaction continued in both the north and south; the "white liners" movement to elect candidates dedicated to white supremacy reached as far as Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 in 1875.

Republicans split nationally: election of 1872

As early as 1868 Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.Chase was one of the most prominent members...

, a leading Radical during the war, concluded that:
Congress was right in not limiting, by its reconstruction acts, the right of suffrage to whites; but wrong in the exclusion from suffrage of certain classes of citizens and all unable to take its prescribed retrospective oath, and wrong also in the establishment of despotic military governments for the States and in authorizing military commissions for the trial of civilians in time of peace. There should have been as little military government as possible; no military commissions; no classes excluded from suffrage; and no oath except one of faithful obedience and support to the Constitution and laws, and of sincere attachment to the constitutional Government of the United States.

By 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant had alienated large numbers of leading Republicans, including many Radicals by the corruption of his administration and his use of federal soldiers to prop up Radical state regimes in the South. The opponents, called "Liberal Republicans"
Liberal Republican Party (United States)
The Liberal Republican Party of the United States was a political party that was organized in Cincinnati in May 1872, to oppose the reelection of President Ulysses S. Grant and his Radical Republican supporters. The party's candidate in that year's presidential election was Horace Greeley, longtime...

, included founders of the party who expressed dismay that the party had succumbed to corruption. They were further wearied by the continued insurgent violence of whites against blacks in the South, especially around every election cycle, which demonstrated the war was not over and changes were fragile. Leaders included editors of some of the nation's most powerful newspapers. Charles Sumner, embittered by the corruption of the Grant administration, joined the new party, which nominated editor Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley was an American newspaper editor, a founder of the Liberal Republican Party, a reformer, a politician, and an outspoken opponent of slavery...

. The badly organized Democratic party also supported Greeley.

Grant made up for the defections by new gains among Union veterans and by strong support from the "Stalwart" faction of his party (which depended on his patronage), and the Southern Republican parties. Grant won with 55.6% of the vote to Greeley's 43.8%. The Liberal Republican party vanished and many former supporters—even former abolitionists—abandoned the cause of Reconstruction.

Republican coalition splinters in South

In the South, political–racial tensions built up inside the Republican party as they were attacked by the Democrats. In 1868, Georgia Democrats, with support from some Republicans, expelled all 28 black Republican members, arguing blacks were eligible to vote but not to hold office. In several states, the more conservative scalawags fought for control with the more radical carpetbaggers and usually lost. Thus, in Mississippi, the conservative faction led by scalawag James Lusk Alcorn was decisively defeated by the radical faction led by carpetbagger Adelbert Ames
Adelbert Ames
Adelbert Ames was an American sailor, soldier, and politician. He served with distinction as a Union Army general during the American Civil War. As a Radical Republican and a Carpetbagger, he was military governor, Senator and civilian governor in Reconstruction-era Mississippi...

. The party lost support steadily as many scalawags left it; few recruits were acquired. Meanwhile, the freedmen were demanding a bigger share of the offices and patronage, thus squeezing out their carpetbagger allies. Finally, some of the more prosperous freedmen were joining the Democrats, as they were angered at the failure of the Republicans to help them acquire land.

Although historians such as W. E. B. Du Bois looked for and celebrated a cross-racial coalition of poor whites and blacks, such coalitions rarely formed in these years. Writing in 1915, former Congressman Lynch, recalling his experience as a black leader in Mississippi, explained that,
While the colored men did not look with favor upon a political alliance with the poor whites, it must be admitted that, with very few exceptions, that class of whites did not seek, and did not seem to desire such an alliance.

Lynch reported that poor whites resented the job competition from freedmen. Furthermore, the poor whites
with a few exceptions, were less efficient, less capable, and knew less about matters of state and governmental administration than many of the former slaves.… As a rule, therefore, the whites that came into the leadership of the Republican party between 1872 and 1875 were representatives of the most substantial families of the land.

Democrats try a "New Departure"

By 1870, the Democratic–Conservative leadership across the South decided it had to end its opposition to Reconstruction and black suffrage to survive and move on to new issues. The Grant administration had proven by its crackdown on the Ku Klux Klan that it would use as much federal power as necessary to suppress open anti-black violence. The Democrats in the North concurred. They wanted to fight the Republican Party on economic grounds rather than race. The New Departure
New Departure (Democrats)
The New Departure refers to the political strategy used by the Democratic Party in the United States after 1865 to distance itself from its pro-slavery and Copperhead history in an effort to broaden its political base, and focus on issues where it had more of an advantage, especially economic...

 offered the chance for a clean slate without having to re-fight the Civil War every election. Furthermore, many wealthy landowners thought they could control part of the newly enfranchised black electorate to their own advantage.

Not all Democrats agreed; an insurgent element continued to resist Reconstruction no matter what. Eventually, a group called "Redeemers" took control of the party in the Southern states. They formed coalitions with conservative Republicans, including scalawags and carpetbaggers, emphasizing the need for economic modernization. Railroad building was seen as a panacea since northern capital was needed. The new tactics were a success in Virginia
History of Virginia
The history of Virginia began with settlement of the geographic region now known as the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States thousands of years ago by Native Americans. Permanent European settlement began with the establishment of Jamestown in 1607, by English colonists. As tobacco emerged...

 where William Mahone
William Mahone
William Mahone was a civil engineer, teacher, soldier, railroad executive, and a member of the Virginia General Assembly and U.S. Congress. Small of stature, he was nicknamed "Little Billy"....

 built a winning coalition. In Tennessee, the Redeemers formed a coalition with Republican governor DeWitt Senter
Dewitt Clinton Senter
Dewitt Clinton Senter was governor of Tennessee from 1869 to 1871.-Biography:Senter was the son of a Methodist minister and was born in McMinn County, Tennessee. He was admitted to the bar after reading law on his own and passing the examination, a fairly common practice of the era. He was first...

. Across the South, some Democrats switched from the race issue to taxes and corruption, charging that Republican governments were corrupt and inefficient. With continuing decrease in cotton prices, taxes squeezed cash-poor farmers who rarely saw $20 in currency a year but had to pay taxes in currency or lose their farm.

In North Carolina, Republican Governor William Woods Holden
William Woods Holden
William Woods Holden was the 38th and 40th Governor of North Carolina in 1865 and from 1868 to 1871. He was the leader of the state's Republican Party during Reconstruction. Holden was the second governor in American history to be impeached, and the first to be removed from office...

 used state troops against the Klan, but the prisoners were released by federal judges. Holden became the first governor in American history to be impeached and removed from office. Republican political disputes in Georgia split the party and enabled the Redeemers to take over.

In the lower South, violence continued and new insurgent groups arose. The disputed election in Louisiana in 1872 found both Republican and Democratic candidates holding inaugural balls while returns were reviewed. Both certified their own slates for local parish offices in many places, causing local tensions to rise. Finally, Federal support helped certify the Republican as governor, but the Democrat Samuel D. McEnery
Samuel D. McEnery
Samuel Douglas McEnery served as the 30th Governor of Louisiana from 1881 until 1888, and as a United States Senator from 1897 until 1910....

 in March 1873 brought his own militia to bear in New Orleans, the seat of government.

Slates for local offices were certified by each candidate. In rural Grant Parish in the Red River Valley
Red River Valley
The Red River Valley is a region in central North America that is drained by the Red River of the North. It is significant in the geography of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba for its relatively fertile lands and the population centers of Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks, and Winnipeg...

, freedmen fearing a Democratic attempt to take over the parish government reinforced defenses at the Colfax courthouse in late March. White militias gathered from the area a few miles outside the settlement. Rumors and fears abounded on both sides. William Ward, an African-American Union veteran and militia captain, mustered his company in Colfax
Colfax, Louisiana
Colfax is a town in and the parish seat of Grant Parish, Louisiana, United States. The town, founded in 1869, is named for the vice president of the United States, Schuyler M. Colfax , who served in the first term of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, for whom the parish is named. Colfax is part of...

 and went to the courthouse. On Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, the whites attacked the defenders at the courthouse. There was confusion about who shot one of the white leaders after an offer by the defenders to surrender. It was a catalyst to mayhem. In the end, three whites died and 120–150 blacks were killed, some 50 were held as prisoners. The disproportionate numbers of black to white fatalities and documentation of brutalized bodies are why contemporary historians call it the Colfax Massacre rather than the Colfax Riot, as it is known locally.

This marked the beginning of heightened insurgency and attacks on Republican officeholders and freedmen in Louisiana and other Deep South states. In Louisiana, Judge T.S. Crawford and District Attorney P.H. Harris of the 12th Judicial District were shot off their horses and killed from ambush October 8, 1873, while going to court. One widow wrote to the Department of Justice that her husband was killed because he was a Union man and "...of the efforts made to screen those who committed a crime...."

In the North, a live-and-let-live attitude made elections more like a sporting contest. But in the Deep South, many white citizens had not reconciled with the defeat of the war or the granting of citizenship to freedmen. As an Alabama scalawag explained,
Our contest here is for life, for the right to earn our bread... for a decent and respectful consideration as human beings and members of society.

Panic of 1873

The Panic of 1873 (a depression
Long Depression
The Long Depression was a worldwide economic crisis, felt most heavily in Europe and the United States, which had been experiencing strong economic growth fueled by the Second Industrial Revolution in the decade following the American Civil War. At the time, the episode was labeled the Great...

) hit the Southern economy hard and disillusioned many Republicans who had gambled that railroads would pull the South out of its poverty. The price of cotton fell by half; many small landowners, local merchants and cotton factors (wholesalers) went bankrupt. Sharecropping for black and white farmers became more common as a way to spread the risk of owning land. The old abolitionist element in the North was aging away, or had lost interest, and was not replenished. Many carpetbaggers returned to the North or joined the Redeemers. Blacks had an increased voice in the Republican Party, but across the South it was divided by internal bickering and was rapidly losing its cohesion. Many local black leaders started emphasizing individual economic progress in cooperation with white elites, rather than racial political progress in opposition to them, a conservative attitude that foreshadowed Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915...


Nationally, President Grant was blamed for the depression; the Republican Party lost 96 seats in all parts of the country in the 1874 elections
United States House election, 1874
The U.S. House election, 1874 was an election for the United States House of Representatives in 1874, which occurred in the middle of President Ulysses S. Grant's second term. It was an important turning point, as the Republicans lost heavily and the Democrats gained control of the House...

. The Bourbon Democrats took control of the House and were confident of electing Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel Jones Tilden was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency in the disputed election of 1876, one of the most controversial American elections of the 19th century. He was the 25th Governor of New York...

 president in 1876. President Grant was not running for re-election and seemed to be losing interest in the South. States fell to the Redeemers, with only four in Republican hands in 1873, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina; Arkansas then fell after the violent Brooks–Baxter War in 1874 ripped apart the Republican party there.

Paramilitary groups allied with Democratic Party

Political violence had been endemic in Louisiana, but in 1874 the white militias coalesced into paramilitary organizations such as the White League, first in parishes of the Red River Valley. A new organization operated openly and had political goals: the violent overthrow of Republican rule and suppression of black voting. White League chapters soon rose in many rural parishes, receiving financing for advanced weaponry from wealthy men. In one example of local violence, the White League assassinated six white Republican officeholders and five to twenty black witnesses outside Coushatta
----The Coushatta are a historic Muskogean-speaking Native American people living primarily in the U.S. state of Louisiana. When first encountered by Europeans, they lived in the territory of present-day Georgia and Alabama...

, Red River Parish in 1874. Four of the white men were related to the Republican representative of the parish.

Later in 1874 the White League mounted a serious attempt to unseat the Republican governor of Louisiana, in a dispute that had simmered since the 1872 election. It brought 5000 troops to New Orleans to engage and overwhelm forces of the Metropolitan Police and state militia to turn Republican Governor William P. Kellogg
William P. Kellogg
William Pitt Kellogg was an American politician and a governor of Louisiana from 1873-1877 during Reconstruction. He was one of the most important politicians in Louisiana during and immediately after Reconstruction...

 out of office and seat McEnery. The White League took over and held the state house and city hall, but they retreated before the arrival of reinforcing Federal troops. Kellogg had asked for reinforcements before, and Grant finally responded, sending additional troops to try to quell violence throughout plantation areas of the Red River Valley, although 2,000 troops were already in the state.

Similarly, the Red Shirts, another paramilitary group, arose in 1875 in Mississippi and the Carolinas. Like the White League and White Liner rifle clubs, these groups operated as a "military arm of the Democratic Party", to restore white supremacy.

Democrats and many northern Republicans agreed that Confederate nationalism and slavery were dead—the war goals were achieved—and further federal military interference was an undemocratic violation of historic Republican values. The victory of Rutherford Hayes in the hotly contested Ohio gubernatorial election of 1875 indicated his "let alone" policy toward the South would become Republican policy, as happened when he won the 1876 Republican nomination for president.

An explosion of violence accompanied the campaign for the Mississippi's 1875 election
Mississippi Plan
The Mississippi Plan of 1875 was devised by the Democratic Party to overthrow the Republican Party in the state of Mississippi by means of organized threats of violence and suppression or purchase of the black vote, in order to regain political control of the legislature and governor's office...

, in which Red Shirts and Democratic rifle clubs, operating in the open and without disguise, threatened or shot enough Republicans to decide the election for the Democrats. Republican Governor Adelbert Ames asked Grant for federal troops to fight back; Grant initially refused, saying public opinion was "tired out" of the perpetual troubles in the South. Ames fled the state as the Democrats took over Mississippi.

This was not the end of the violence, however, as the campaigns and elections of 1876 were marked by additional murders and attacks on Republicans in Louisiana, North and South Carolina, and Florida. In South Carolina the campaign season of 1876 was marked by murderous outbreaks and fraud against freedmen. Red Shirts paraded with arms behind Democratic candidates; they killed blacks in the Hamburg
Hamburg Massacre
The Hamburg Massacre was a key event of South Carolina Reconstruction. Beginning with a dispute over free passage on a public road, this racially motivated incident concluded with the death of seven men...

 and Ellenton
Ellenton, South Carolina
Ellenton was a town that was located on the border between Barnwell County and Aiken County, South Carolina, United States. Settled around 1870, it was acquired by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1950 as part of a site for the Savannah River Plant. It was located between the current CSX...

 SC massacres; and one historian estimated 150 blacks were killed in the weeks before the 1876 election across South Carolina. Red Shirts prevented almost all black voting in two majority-black counties. The Red Shirts were also active in North Carolina.

Election of 1876

Reconstruction continued in South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida until 1877. The elections of 1876 were accompanied by heightened violence across the Deep South. A combination of ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing is the illegal act of one person submitting multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is permitted. The name originates from the earliest days of this practice in which people literally did stuff more than one ballot in a ballot box at the same time...

 and intimidating blacks suppressed their vote even in majority black counties. The White League was active in Louisiana. After Republican Rutherford Hayes won the disputed 1876 presidential election, the national Compromise of 1877 was reached.

The white Democrats in the South agreed to accept Hayes's victory if he withdrew the last Federal troops. By this point, the North was weary of insurgency. White Democrats controlled most of the Southern legislatures and armed militias controlled small towns and rural areas. Blacks considered Reconstruction a failure because the Federal government withdrew from enforcing their ability to exercise their rights as citizens.

Hayes: the last Reconstruction President

On January 29, 1877 President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Electorial Commission Act
Electoral Commission (United States)
The Electoral Commission was a temporary body created by Congress to resolve the disputed United States presidential election of 1876. It consisted of 15 members. The election was contested by the Democratic ticket, Samuel J. Tilden and Thomas A. Hendricks, and the Republican ticket, Rutherford B....

 that set up a 15-member commission to settle the disputed 1876 election of 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats. The Electoral Commission awarded Rutherford B. Hayes the electoral votes he needed; Congress certified he had won by one electoral vote. The Democrats had little leverage—they could not block Hayes' election, but they were mollified by the implicit, "back room" deal that federal troops would be removed on the condition that the Southern states pledged to protect the lives of African Americans. Hayes's friends also let it be known that he would promote Federal aid for internal improvements and name a Southerner to his cabinet, and help a railroad in Texas. With the removal of Northern troops, the President had no method to enforce Reconstruction, thus this "back room" deal signaled the end of American Reconstruction.

After assuming office on March 4, 1877, President Hayes removed troops from the capitals of the remaining Reconstruction states, Louisiana and South Carolina, allowing the Redeemers to have full control of these states. President Grant had already removed troops from Florida, before Hayes was inaugurated, and troops from the other Reconstruction states had long since been withdrawn. Hayes also appointed David M. Key
David M. Key
David McKendree Key was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Tennessee from 1875 to 1877 as well as the U.S. Postmaster General under President Hayes.-Biography:...

 from Tennessee, a Southern Democrat, to the position of Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

. By 1879, thousands of African American "exodusters" packed up and headed to new opportunities in Kansas. The Democrats gained control of the Senate, and now had complete control of Congress having already taken over the House in 1875. Hayes vetoed bills from the Democrats that outlawed the Republican Force Acts, however, with the military underfunded, Hayes could not adequately enforce these laws. Blacks remained involved in Southern politics, particularly in Virginia, which was run by the biracial Readjuster Party
Readjuster Party
The Readjuster Party was a political coalition formed in Virginia in the late 1870s during the turbulent period following the American Civil War. Readjusters aspired "to break the power of wealth and established privilege" and to promote public education, a program which attracted biracial support....


Legacy and historiography

The interpretation of Reconstruction has swung back and forth several times. Nearly all historians hold that Reconstruction ended in failure. It is hard to see Reconstruction "as concluding in anything but failure" says Etcheson (2009) Etcheson adds, "W. E. B. DuBois captured that failure well when he wrote in Black Reconstruction in America (1935): 'The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.'" Likewise Eric Foner
Eric Foner
Eric Foner is an American historian. On the faculty of the Department of History at Columbia University since 1982, he writes extensively on political history, the history of freedom, the early history of the Republican Party, African American biography, Reconstruction, and historiography...

 concludes that from the black point of view, "Reconstruction must be judged a failure." Foner stated Reconstruction was "a noble if flawed experiment, the first attempt to introduce a genuine inter-racial democracy in the United States". The many factors contributing to Reconstruction failure include: lack of a permanent federal agency specifically designed for the enforcement of civil rights; the Morrison R. Waite Supreme Court decisions that dismantled previous congressional civil rights legislation; and the economic reestablishment of conservative white planters in the South by 1877. Historian William McFeely explained that although the constitutional amendments and civil rights legislation on their own merit were remarkable achievements no permanent government agency whose specific purpose was civil rights enforcement had been created.

The first generation of Northern historians believed that the former Confederates were traitors and Johnson was their ally who threatened to undo the Union's constitutional achievements. By the 1880s, however, Northern historians argued that Johnson and his allies were not traitors but blundered badly in rejecting the 14th Amendment and setting the stage for Radical Reconstruction.

The black leader Booker T. Washington, who grew up in West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 during Reconstruction, concluded that, "the Reconstruction experiment in racial democracy failed because it began at the wrong end, emphasizing political means and civil rights acts rather than economic means and self-determination." His solution was to concentrate on building the economic infrastructure of the black community, in part by his leadership of Tuskegee Institute.

In popular literature two novels by Thomas Dixon
Thomas Dixon, Jr.
Thomas F. Dixon, Jr. was an American Baptist minister, playwright, lecturer, North Carolina state legislator, lawyer, and author, perhaps best known for writing The Clansman — which was to become the inspiration for D. W...

The Clansman
The Clansman
The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan is the title of a novel published in 1905. It was the second work in the Ku Klux Klan trilogy by Thomas F. Dixon, Jr. that included The Leopard's Spots and The Traitor. It was influential in providing the ideology that helped support the...

(1905) and The Leopard's Spots: A Romance of the White Man's Burden – 1865–1900
The Leopard's Spots
The Leopard's Spots is the first novel of Thomas Dixon's Ku Klux Klan trilogy that included The Clansman and The Traitor. In the novel Dixon offers an account of Reconstruction in which he portrays the villains as a former slave driver, Northern carpetbaggers and emancipated slaves; and heroes as...

(1902)—romanticized white resistance to Northern/black coercion, hailing vigilante action by the KKK. Other authors romanticized the benevolence of slavery and the happy world of the antebellum plantation. These sentiments were expressed on the screen in D.W. Griffith's anti-Republican 1915 movie The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation is a 1915 American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and based on the novel and play The Clansman, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr. Griffith also co-wrote the screenplay , and co-produced the film . It was released on February 8, 1915...

. Joel Chandler Harris
Joel Chandler Harris
Joel Chandler Harris was an American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia, where he served as an apprentice on a plantation during his teenage years...

 was particularly instrumental in swaying southern opinion to support the Union. His literary works, as well as his role as the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, helped persuade other southerners that they should embrace Reconstruction and Northern influence and infrastructures. Ultimately, it was these sorts of ideas, in conjunction with popular literature, that spawned several romantic stories about Lincoln's role as a hero in the south. This lost hero, separated by death from the realities of slavery in the Confederacy and the stark truths face by the South following the end of the Civil War, was made out by some to be exactly what the south needed. Through this logic, white supremacists could both embrace the positive changes offered by the north as well as continue to believe that had Lincoln survived, he would have permitted the oppression of African Americans.

The Dunning School
Dunning School
The Dunning School refers to a group of historians who shared a historiographical school of thought regarding the Reconstruction period of American history .-About:...

 of scholars based at the history department of Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 analyzed Reconstruction as a failure, at least after 1866, for different reasons. They claimed that it took freedoms and rights from qualified whites and gave them to unqualified blacks who were being duped by corrupt carpetbaggers and scalawags. As T. Harry Williams
T. Harry Williams
Thomas Harry Williams was an award-winning historian at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge whose career began in 1941 and extended for thirty-eight years until his death at the age of seventy...

 (who was not a member of the Dunning school) notes, the Dunningites portrayed the era in stark terms: "Reconstruction was a battle between two extremes: the Democrats, as the group which included the vast majority of the whites, standing for decent government and racial supremacy, versus the Republicans, the Negroes, alien carpetbaggers, and renegade scalawags, standing for dishonest government and alien ideals. These historians wrote literally in terms of white and black."

In the 1930s, revisionism became popular among scholars. As disciples of Charles A. Beard
Charles A. Beard
Charles Austin Beard was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th century. He published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science...

, revisionists focused on economics, downplaying politics and constitutional issues. They argued that the Radical rhetoric of equal rights was mostly a smokescreen hiding the true motivation of Reconstruction's real backers. Howard K. Beale
Howard K. Beale
Howard Kennedy Beale was an American historian. He specialized in nineteenth and twentieth-century American history, particularly the Reconstruction Era. He also wrote biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, Edward Bates, and Charles A. Beard. Beale was born in Chicago to Frank A. and Nellie Kennedy...

 argued that Reconstruction was primarily a successful attempt by financiers, railroad builders and industrialists in the Northeast, using the Republican Party, to control the national government for their own selfish economic ends. Those ends were to continue the wartime high protective tariff
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

, the new network of national banks and to guarantee a sound currency. To succeed, the business class had to remove the old ruling agrarian class of Southern planters and Midwestern farmers. This it did by inaugurating Reconstruction, which made the South Republican, and by selling its policies to the voters wrapped up in such attractive vote-getting packages as Northern patriotism or the bloody shirt. Historian William Hesseltine added the point that the Northeastern businessmen wanted to control the South economically, which they did through ownership of the railroads. However, historians in the 1950s and 1960s refuted Beale's economic causation by demonstrating that Northern businessmen were widely divergent on monetary or tariff policy, and seldom paid attention to Reconstruction issues.

The black scholar W. E. B. Du Bois, in his Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880, published in 1935, compared results across the states to show achievements by the Reconstruction legislatures and to refute claims about wholesale African-American control of governments. He showed black contributions, as in the establishment of universal public education, charitable and social institutions and universal suffrage as important results, and he noted their collaboration with whites. He also pointed out that whites benefited most by the financial deals made, and he put excesses in the perspective of the war's aftermath. He noted that despite complaints, several states kept their Reconstruction constitutions for nearly a quarter of a century. Despite receiving favorable reviews, his work was largely ignored by white historians.

In the 1960s neoabolitionist
Neoabolitionist is a term used by some historians to refer to the heightened activity of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s...

 historians emerged, led by John Hope Franklin
John Hope Franklin
John Hope Franklin was a United States historian and past president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Historical Association. Franklin is best known for his work From Slavery to Freedom, first published in 1947, and...

, Kenneth Stampp and Eric Foner. Influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, they rejected the Dunning school and found a great deal to praise in Radical Reconstruction. Foner, the primary advocate of this view, argued that it was never truly completed, and that a Second Reconstruction was needed in the late 20th century to complete the goal of full equality for African Americans. The neo-abolitionists followed the revisionists in minimizing the corruption and waste created by Republican state governments, saying it was no worse than Boss Tweed's ring in New York City.

Instead, they emphasized that suppression of the rights of African Americans was a worse scandal and a grave corruption of America's republican ideals. They argued that the tragedy of Reconstruction was not that it failed because blacks were incapable of governing, especially as they did not dominate any state government, but that it failed because whites raised an insurgent movement to restore white supremacy. White elite-dominated state legislatures passed disfranchising constitutions from 1890 to 1908 that effectively barred most blacks and many poor whites from voting. This disfranchisement affected millions of people for decades into the 20th century, and closed African Americans and poor whites out of the political process in the South.

Re-establishment of white supremacy meant that within a decade white people forgot that blacks were creating thriving middle classes in many states of the South. African Americans' lack of representation meant that they were treated as second-class citizens, with schools and services consistently underfunded in segregated societies, no representation on juries or in law enforcement, and bias in other legislation. It was not until the Civil Rights Movement and the passage of Federal legislation that African Americans regained their suffrage and civil rights in the South, under what is sometimes referred to as the "Second Reconstruction."

More recent work by Nina Silber, David W. Blight
David W. Blight
David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University. Blight was the Class of 1959 Professor of History at Amherst College, where he taught for 13 years.-Life:...

, Cecelia O'Leary, Laura Edwards, LeeAnn Whites and Edward J. Blum, has encouraged greater attention to race, religion and issues of gender while at the same time pushing the end of Reconstruction to the end of the 19th century, while monographs by Charles Reagan Wilson, Gaines Foster, W. Scott Poole and Bruce Baker have offered new views of the Southern "Lost Cause
Lost Cause of the Confederacy
The Lost Cause is the name commonly given to an American literary and intellectual movement that sought to reconcile the traditional white society of the U.S. South to the defeat of the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War of 1861–1865...


While 1877 is the usual date given for the end of Reconstruction, some historians extend the era to the 1890s.
Reconstruction is unanimously considered a failure, though the reason for this is a matter of controversy.
  • The Dunning School considered failure inevitable because they felt that taking the power away from Southern whites was a violation of republicanism.
  • A second school sees the reason for failure as Northern Republicans' lack of effectiveness in guaranteeing political rights to blacks.
  • A third school blames the failure of not giving land to the freedmen so they could have their own economic base of power.
  • A fourth school sees the major reason for failure of reconstruction as the states' inability to suppress the violence of Southern whites when they sought reversal for blacks' gains. Etcheson (2009) points to the "violence that crushed black aspirations and the abandonment by Northern whites of Southern Republicans."
  • Other historians emphasize the failure to fully incorporate Southern Unionists in the Republican coalition.

Reconstruction state-by-state – significant dates

Only Georgia has a separate article about its experiences under Reconstruction. The other state names below link to a specific section in the state history article about the Reconstruction era.
in each State
to Congress
Democratic Party
Establishes Control
South Carolina  December 20, 1860 February 4, 1861 July 9, 1868 April 11, 1877
Mississippi  January 9, 1861 February 4, 1861 February 23, 1870 January 4, 1876
Florida  January 10, 1861 February 4, 1861 June 25, 1868 January 2, 1877
Alabama  January 11, 1861 February 4, 1861 July 14, 1868 November 16, 1874
Georgia during Reconstruction
-Wartime Reconstruction or Forty Acres and a Mule:At the beginning of Reconstruction, Georgia had over 460,000 Freedmen. In January 1865, in Savannah, William T. Sherman issued Special Field Orders, No. 15 authorizing federal authorities to confiscate 'abandoned' plantation lands in the Sea...

January 19, 1861 February 4, 1861 July 15, 1870 November 1, 1871
Louisiana  January 26, 1861 February 4, 1861 June 25 or July 9, 1868 January 2, 1877
Texas  February 1, 1861 March 2, 1861 March 30, 1870 January 14, 1873
Virginia  April 17, 1861 May 7, 1861 January 26, 1870 October 5, 1869
Arkansas  May 6, 1861 May 18, 1861 June 22, 1868 November 10, 1874
North Carolina  May 21, 1861 May 16, 1861 July 4, 1868 November 28, 1870
Tennessee  June 8, 1861 May 16, 1861 July 24, 1866 October 4, 1869

Secondary sources

For much more detail see Reconstruction: Bibliography
Reconstruction: Bibliography
Reconstruction was the period after the American Civil War, 1863–1877 . This is a selected bibliography of the main scholarly books and articles.-Surveys:...

  • Barney, William L. Passage of the Republic: An Interdisciplinary History of Nineteenth Century America (1987). D. C. Heath ISBN 0-669-04758-9
  • Bradley, Mark L. Bluecoats and Tar Heels: Soldiers and Civilians in Reconstruction North Carolina (University Press of Kentucky, 2009) 370 pp. ISBN 978-0-8131-2507-7
  • Brown, Thomas J., ed. Reconstructions: New Perspectives on Postbellum America (2006) essays by 8 scholars excerpt and text search
  • Donald, David H. et al. Civil War and Reconstruction (2001), standard textbook
  • Du Bois, W.E.B. Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880 (1935), Counterpoint to Dunning School explores the economics and politics of the era from Marxist perspective
  • Du Bois, W.E.B. "Reconstruction and its Benefits," American Historical Review, 15 (July, 1910), 781—99 online edition
  • Dunning, William Archibald
    William Archibald Dunning
    William Archibald Dunning was an American historian who founded the Dunning School of Reconstruction historiography at Columbia University, where he had graduated in 1881. Between 1886 and 1903 he taught history at Columbia, and was named a professor in 1904. Born in Plainfield, N...

    . Reconstruction: Political & Economic, 1865–1877 (1905). Influential summary of Dunning School; blames Carpetbaggers for failure of Reconstruction. online edition
  • Etcheson, Nicole. "Reconstruction and the Making of a Free-Labor South," Reviews in American History, Volume 37, Number 2, June 2009 in Project MUSE
    Project MUSE
    Project MUSE is an online database of current and back issues of peer-reviewed humanities and social sciences journals. It was founded in 1993 by Todd Kelley and Susan Lewis and is a project of the Johns Hopkins University Press and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. It had support from the Mellon...

  • Fitzgerald, Michael W. Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South (2007), 224pp; excerpt and text search
  • Walter Lynwood Fleming The Sequel of Appomattox, A Chronicle of the Reunion of the States(1918). From Dunning School.
  • Fleming, Walter L. Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama 1905. the most detailed study; Dunning School full text online
  • Foner, Eric and Mahoney, Olivia. America's Reconstruction: People and Politics After the Civil War. ISBN 0-8071-2234-3, short well-illustrated survey
  • Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (1988) ISBN 0-06-015851-4. Pulitzer-prize winning history and most detailed synthesis of original and previous scholarship.
  • Foner, Eric. Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction. 2005. 268 pp.
  • Ford, Lacy K., ed. A Companion to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Blackwell, 2005. 518 pp.
  • Franklin, John Hope. Reconstruction after the Civil War (1961), 280 pages. ISBN 0-226-26079-8. By a leading black historian
  • Harris, William C. With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union (1997) portrays Lincoln as opponent of Radicals.
  • Henry, Robert Selph. The Story of Reconstruction (1938), popular
  • Jenkins, Wilbert L. Climbing up to Glory: A Short History of African Americans during the Civil War and Reconstruction. (2002). 285 pp.
  • Litwack, Leon. Been in the Storm So Long (1979). Pulitzer Prize; social history of the freedmen
  • McPherson, James
    James M. McPherson
    James M. McPherson is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book...

     and James Hogue. Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (2009)
  • Milton, George Fort. The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals. (1930). online edition; from Dunning School
  • Perman, Michael. Emancipation and Reconstruction (2003). 144 pp.
  • Randall, J. G. The Civil War and Reconstruction (1953). Long the standard survey, with elaborate bibliography
  • Rhodes, James G. History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley–Bryan Campaign of 1896. Volume: 6. (1920). 1865–72; Volume: 7. (1920). –77; Highly detailed narrative by Pulitzer prize winner; argues was a political disaster because it violated the rights of white Southerners. vol 6 1865–1872 online; vol 7 online vol 6 online at Google.books vol 7 in Google.books
  • Richardson, Heather Cox. West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War (2007)
  • Simpson, Brooks D. The Reconstruction Presidents (2009)
  • Stalcup, Brenda. ed. Reconstruction: Opposing Viewpoints (Greenhaven Press: 1995). Uses primary documents to present opposing viewpoints.
  • Stampp, Kenneth M. The Era of Reconstruction, 1865–1877 (1967); short survey; rejects Dunning School analysis.
  • Stampp, Kenneth M. and Leon M. Litwack, eds. Reconstruction: An Anthology of Revisionist Writings," (1969), essays by scholars
  • Summers, Mark Wahlgren. A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Trefousse, Hans L. Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction Greenwood (1991), 250 entries


Primary sources

  • Barnes, William H., ed.,History of the Thirty-ninth Congress of the United States. (1868) summary of Congressional activity.
  • Berlin, Ira
    Ira Berlin
    Ira Berlin is an American historian, a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, and a past President of the Organization of American Historians. Berlin is the author of such books as Many Thousands Gone and Generations of Captivity.-Biography:Berlin received his Ph.D....

    , ed.
    Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867 (1982), 970 pp of archival documents; also Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War ed by Ira Berlin, Barbara J. Fields, and Steven F. Miller (1993)
  • Blaine, James
    James G. Blaine
    James Gillespie Blaine was a U.S. Representative, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. Senator from Maine, two-time Secretary of State...

    Twenty Years of Congress: From Lincoln to Garfield. With a review of the events which led to the political revolution of 1860 (1886). By Republican Congressional leader vol 2 online
  • Fleming, Walter L. Documentary History of Reconstruction: Political, Military, Social, Religious, Educational, and Industrial 2 vol (1906). Presents a broad collection of primary sources; vol 1 on national politics; vol 2 on states vol 2 online
  • Ford, Lacy K., ed. A Companion to the Civil War and Reconstruction. (2005). 518 pp
  • Memoirs of W. W. Holden (1911), North Carolina Scalawag governor
  • Hyman, Harold M., ed. The Radical Republicans and Reconstruction, 1861–1870. (1967), collection of long political speeches and pamphlets.
  • Lynch, John R. The Facts of Reconstruction. (New York: 1913)Full text online One of first black congressmen during Reconstruction.
  • Edward McPherson
    Edward McPherson
    Edward McPherson was a prominent Pennsylvania newspaperman, attorney, and United States Congressman. As a director of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, he effected efforts to protect portions of the Gettysburg Battlefield.-Early life and career:McPherson was born in Gettysburg,...

    The Political History of the United States of America During the Period of Reconstruction (1875), large collection of speeches and primary documents, 1865–1870, complete text online. [The copyright has expired.]
  • Palmer, Beverly Wilson and Holly Byers Ochoa, eds. The Selected Papers of Thaddeus Stevens 2 vol (1998), 900pp; his speeches plus and letters to and from Stevens
  • Palmer, Beverly Wilson, ed. The Selected Letters of Charles Sumner 2 vol (1990); vol 2 covers 1859–1874
  • Pike, James Shepherd
    James Shepherd Pike
    -Biography:He was born in Calais, Maine, was a journalist in the United States during the mid 19th century. From 1850-1860 he was the chief Washington correspondent and associate editor of the New York Tribune. The Tribune was the chief source of news and commentary for many Republican newspapers...

    The prostrate state: South Carolina under negro government (1874)
  • Reid, Whitelaw
    Whitelaw Reid
    Whitelaw Reid was a U.S. politician and newspaper editor, as well as the author of a popular history of Ohio in the Civil War.-Early life:...

    After the war: a southern tour, May 1, 1865 to May 1, 1866. (1866) by Republican editor
  • Sumner, Charles "Our Domestic Relations: or, How to Treat the Rebel States" Atlantic Monthly September 1863, early abolitionist manifesto

Newspapers and magazines

External links

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