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The Reconstruction Amendments - Essay Example

3 pages
641 words
Sewanee University of the South
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The end of the Civil war left the north and south cities in disorder. The nation needed urgent reforms to get back to normal functioning leading to the reconstruction amendments. The purpose of the reconstruction process was to unite the southern state with rest of American nation to form a unified republic. The unification effort was a success in bringing the cities together through the implementation of the new constitution. The transformative amendments included 13th, 14h and 17th amendments respectively. The bills specifically aimed at strengthening government loyalty and promote equal rights. More so, the long-term conflict of 1870 between federalism debate and state's rights was settled through reconstruction (Thomas, 2016). The reconciliation with the southern region led to economic growth because the various cities were able to trade with the south. For example, Southern states managed to sell their farm products and other goods to earn a profit. The 13th Amendment forbidden slavery in 1868 while the 14th amendment gave citizenship to the victims of slavery. The establishment of Freedman Bureau in 1865 freed many slaves, provided food and shelter under Lincoln governance. The changes also prohibited racism and bribery in voting. The former slaves were also able to hold office to improve their participation in public affairs.

Despite bringing the nation together, the process failed in addressing the implementation of radical legislation by the Republicans. One of the objectives of the reconstruction amendments was to protect the slaves, and this failed terribly because of failure to incorporate transformation agenda in social fabric in the south. For example, President Rutherford withdrawal of the Confederate troops from the south led to clinch of power and continuation of the slave trade by the slave cartels. The Supreme Court verdict regarding the black codes, voter qualification, and progression of the anti-legislative campaign against slaves' equal rights and freedom was an indication of radical reconstruction rather than development reconstruction. It is a failure because radicalism rebuilt the white supremacy. In fact, the slaughterhouse case, United States v. Cruikshank and the Civil Rights case revoked 14th and 15th amendment as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1875 (Thomas, 2016). The business of slavery was still live in the South as a result of the rebirth of sharecropping system. Sharecropping was a legal way of discriminating the blacks so that they can remain under the control of the whites; discrimination was along the economic line. Additionally, the fundamental goals of the reconstruction process remained incomplete due to the withdrawal of support from the northern white cities, the weak interest of the northern whites in 1870, left the blacks in the southern state vulnerable and helpless. The Ku Klux Klan, a violent white supremacist group, whipped, slain and tortured blacks (Thomas, 2016). They burnt down houses living the blacks homeless. Following the alienation of equal rights and freedom campaign from the northern cities, the blacks were forced to fight on their own in 1877 with a hope of getting civil justice. The Jim Crow laws of 1876 promoted racial segregation (Thomas, 2016). The view that races are equal but separate subdued the status of the blacks. As a result, public schools were separated from blacks and whites similar to restrooms, public places, drinking fountains, and restaurants. Racial discrimination led to increased violence between the blacks and whites contrary to reconstruction quest for peace and general inclusivity.


Basing on the impact of the reconstruction amendments and what followed later after their adoption, it is true that reconstruction effort was victorious in the short run but a failure in the long term. The liberated south became vicious and reversed all the good laws that aimed at improving the welfare of blacks and create one prosperous nation. Slavery remained eminent, violence and discrimination took center stage. The African American remained inferior and servants of the white supremacists


Thomas, B. (2016). The Literature of Reconstruction: Not in Plain Black and White. JHU Press.

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