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This article is set up as a set of events, as well as their impact afterward. If you know any other events that had a major impact on American history, feel free to add it in the comments section. Other than that, enjoy the time period of Post-Reconstruction!

American Reconstruction: 13th, 14th, 15th "Reconstruction" Amendments

The major goal of the Civil War was to protect the rights of freed slaves. In order to do this, these three "Reconstruction" Amendments were passed. The 13th Amendment officially abolished slavery and prohibited against involuntary service, servitude, and slavery. It was passed in 1865, which was immediately after the end of the Civil War.

The 14th Amendment gave Citizenship for recently freed slaves, and it gave protection against the Black Codes. It forced all states to give equal protection under the law to all citizens of the US and prohibits states from crossing those rights. It was significant because of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which said the “separate but equal” policies in the South were unconstitutional. Basically, it led to the “equal protection under law” and “due process”.

The 15th Amendment gave everyone the right to vote. Congress actually had the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation as well. However, the southern whites circumvented this through the grandfather clause, literacy tests, and poll taxes, which were all meant to keep blacks and minorities from having legitimate equal rights.


Alexander Manly

American Reconstruction Implementer of Change: Alexander Manly

American Reconstruction: Alexander Manly (African American)

He was only 1/8th black, yet he was still considered black in the South. He declared in his editorial that it is no worse for a black man to be intimate with a white woman than a white man and a black woman. Because of his outright opinion, whites battered down the door and set fire to Mr. Manly’s house. Armed with a Gatling gun, they ran all the prominent blacks out of town. Led by Alfred Waddell, the white mob killed several blacks. They tortured, mutilated, and lynched the blacks. This event was known as the Wilmington Race Riot.

Race Riots were used to establish white supremacy and intimidate blacks and some whites. Other riots in New Orleans and Atalanta occurred around the same time. In addition, lynching was a powerful weapon of social control. All of this occurred around the early and mid-1880s.

By the 1890s though, lynching became a spectacle. It was used as a political message; they were used as events. They were something that could be experienced all over the United States. Postcards went around the US with pictures of lynchings as well. Other forms of mutilation and torture were used during lynchings. They were most often used in response to rape. If a black man so much as looked at a white woman, he could be put to death or tortured.

AFL Reconstruction Changes

American Reconstruction: American Federation of Labor (AFL)

It was one of the first labor unions in the United States. It was the largest union grouping in the US and was essentially an alliance of craft unions from the Knights of Labor. It was led by Samuel Gompers, and it grew quickly because labor conditions were deteriorating in the South.

American Reconstruction: Assimilation of Immigrants

The allotment was a new policy that was designed to encourage assimilation through farming and owning private property. Immigrants faced the troubles of assimilation; the cultures that they once knew was non-existent in the new United States.

However, some did manage to group with people from their homeland. New immigrants would start to cluster in new city blocks in the streets. It did not matter where you were from; all immigrants faced the challenge of assimilation, including the English and the American way of life. Immigration transformed an overwhelmingly Protestant nation to an increasingly Catholic and Jewish one.

Legacies of the White Supremacy are the following. Blacks and immigrants were excluded in the South because of Jim Crow in the South and immigration restrictions. Assimilation is also known as the “Americanization” of European immigrants and Native Americans. Imperialism is aggressive foreign policy towards darker skinned nations.

American Reconstruction: Black Codes

The rights that blacks were granted in the Black Codes include the freedoms to legally marry other blacks, to sue and be sued, to purchase Property (w/ some restrictions) and a few other things. The rights that blacks were denied include the rights to vote, hold office, or serve on juries, marry whites, dictate their own terms of labor. Labor contracts between blacks and whites were mandated and regulated, and blacks could not break these contracts without severe penalties. If they were poor or unemployed (or viewed as such), they could be arrested for vagrancy or forced into an apprenticeship. The Black Codes were an attempt to keep blacks from enjoying the rights and freedoms that were originally granted to them in the Constitution.

American Reconstruction: Bull Moose Party

The Bull Moose Party started getting popular in the 1912 election. It started with Theodore Roosevelt; he was angry, so he essentially made this party. The Bull Moose Party was for women’s suffrage, women help, bank revisions, health insurance, and worker’s compensation. It was also known as the “Bull Moose Progressive Party”.

Student body outside the school grounds during Reconstruction | Source

American Reconstruction: Carlisle Industrial School

Its background started and was more encouraged with the Dawes Act 1887. It divided the land and gave it to Indians and encouraged the breakup of Indians into American culture. Congressmen Henry Dawes said that being civilized meant wearing civilized clothes, ride a wagon, drink whiskey, etc.

As soon as Indians received their 160 acres of land (per individual), they would become citizens. The Dawes reduced from 138 million acres to close to 30 million acres. The telling of Indian myths was prohibited and medicine men were put in jail. It was said that in order to assimilate Indians, the children had to be taken from their places and teach them in boarding schools like Carlisle.

At Carlisle Industrial School they were forbidden from speaking their own languages, forced to become Christian, forced to use American names, and basically were not allowed to bring anything to school that represents their culture. This was a form of "Americanization".

American Reconstruction: Radical Reconstruction

Reconstruction is an unfinished revolution, an experiment with interfacial democracy, and an era of black community building and political participation. Radical (or Congressional) Reconstruction (1865-1877) include events such as the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, Johnson’s Impeachment, and a Mixed Record.

Chinese Exclusion Act: Post-Reconstruction

American Reconstruction: Chinese Exclusion Act

Chinese Emigrants came to the US to do the work that the whites did not want to do. They were seen as unwanted white competition by white workers. The white workers in California formed the Working Man’s Party and the Supreme Order of Caucasians to keep out the Chinese.

Because of this influx of cheap, Chinese labor, they passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which meant that Chinese laborers could not enter the US for 10 years. This was the first significant exclusion in AM history, was renewed in 1902, and then made again. This Exclusion Act denied Chinese residents in the US for close to 60 years.

American Reconstruction: Samuel Tilden

Samuel Tilden was the Democratic Presidential Candidate in 1876 and was a strong component in Reconstruction. Rutherford B Hayes was the Republican candidate. Rutherford B Hayes came to doubt the reconstruction program by 1876 and wanted to return the South to the local government as soon as possible. Hayes had 204 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Tilden had no problem carrying the region. In addition to the South, he picked up 4 swing states in the North. However, the North then checked in the reelection returns. Since the states had recently elected mostly Republican governments, they wanted a re-vote. They also knew about the violent tactics that the Republicans used to get their way.

While the Republicans recounted the votes, the presidency was in a hold. Hayes needed ALL the votes from the states being re-counted. Surprisingly, he got ALL three of them, including and the disputed electoral votes.

In response, Congress created a group of ppl to decide the election. They voted 8 to 7 to give Hayes the disputed votes. Thousands of men were ready to march on to Washington DC to make sure Tilden was the president to be inaugurated. In order to resolve the problem, a small group of ppl met a few days before the inauguration to come to a compromise.

They agreed to stop fighting against Hayes presidency was if the Republicans made a number of confessions. They didn’t want federal troops in the South, and that the federal government couldn’t say things about states. Another thing included was cabinet positions for Hayes. Not only this, but the 13th-15th Amendments would be enforced.

The Republicans knew that many Republicans would not agree with it, but this Compromise of 1877 led to the end of Reconstruction. Hayes was privately inaugurated, and within 2 months of taking office, the soldiers in the South were being removed from the South.

American Reconstruction: Gold Standard

When Grover Cleveland assumed office in 1892, President Grover Cleveland wanted to stick to the gold standard. As soon as he assumed office, the worst depression since the Civil War occurred. Jacob Coxie’s Army marched to Washington, which was 1 of 40 different armies that marched to capital. Coxie and others were arrested for walking on the grass in front of the capital.

It showed the growing desire for the federal government to solve the people’s problems. This march won very widespread support from workers. President Cleveland started to lose support from southern democrats. He felt that the currency system had to be redone. Thus, the gold standard came into play.

American Reconstruction: Crop-Lien System

There were problems within the agricultural system, so the crop-lien system came into play. From the mid to 19th century there were no banks in the south, so farmers had to go somewhere besides banks for loans. They often went to a local furnishing merchant. If they were sharecroppers, they typically went to the landowner.

The Crop-lien is the legal document that allows the farmer to give x amount of crop at the interest rate of y. It’s like a legal I.O.U. That the borrower owes the lender this much crop at a 25% interest (there were very high-interest rates because agricultural business was very risky).

The crop lien basically means that your crop and land are collateral. One-Crop Agriculture: Because of all this risk in the investment, the best assurance is to make sure the farmer/tenant plants a cash crop like cotton. Basically, they tell you what you need to plant.

Over-production leads to price decreases. A bale of cotton was 20 cents in 1821, 10 cents in 1877, and 5 cents shortly after that. When ppl who have land go into debt, they have two options. You could either work as a sharecropper or tenant farmer or work in a factory. Those were the main two options.

American Reconstruction: Jim Crow in the South

White Southerners imposed white supremacy. They used racist propaganda to stir up fear, as well as Race Riots and Lynching. White Southerners disfranchised black voters, imposed literacy tests, the “Grandfather clause”, (cumulative) poll Taxes and an all-white Democratic primary. De facto means concerning fact, and De Jure means concerning the law. Segregation was de jure (not law), but it was facto (fact).

Dred Scott: Changing America

American Reconstruction: Dred Scott Decision

It was a Supreme Court decision. Chief Justice Taney held that Mr. Scott, an African American, couldn’t hold rights, that he was just property and never actually free. It effectively ended the Missouri Compromise and determined that slaves were not citizens. Therefore could NOT sue in court. This arose because Scott claimed to be free because he stepped foot into a free state, and he tried to sue a white man.

American Reconstruction: Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation passed the 13th-15th Amendments, which freed slaves and made them equal, or at least it tried to. States could NOT be re-admitted until accepting this. An interesting thing to think about is whether or not this is constitutional. The states were basically forced to accept this policy.

American Reconstruction: Eugene V Debs

Eugene V Debs received the socialist presidential nomination from 1900-1920. It appealed to urban workers and immigrants. Socialists were surprisingly effective/popular. He pushed for Socialism, was an American Union leader, and was one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World. He was one of the first major socialist influences in the United States.

American Reconstruction: The Farmer's Alliance

The Farmer's Alliance was formed by educated farmers in Texas. They were frustrated that farmers were blaming themselves for all the problems with farming. However, after a while, they would just try to find out the failure in the system.

They sent out lecturers out among the US to tell the farmers about the failures in American Farming. They taught the farmers about the “Crime of 73” when Congress put the US back on the Gold Standard. Farmer’s education was the first part of their form of political change.

Because of organizing groups like The Grange, the farmers began to see themselves as a much broader group of farmers in the West. They developed a class consciousness across regional lines. The Colored Farmers Alliance would soon arise to over a million numbers. As the Farmer’s Alliance rose, they started to realize is that what they needed was political party

American Reconstruction: Free Silver

Free Silver was a slogan used to describe the Democratic Party in 1896 with William Jennings Bryan. William Jennings Bryan was a politician who was made fun of in the movie the Wizard of Oz. He was shown as the Lion.

American Reconstruction: Gospel of Wealth

The Second Industrial Revolution lasted from 1865-1900. Expansion of Railroads was allowed with Federal Subsidies, which opened access to the West. During this time, Andrew Carnegie was doing very well in the steel industry.

Carnegie strongly opposed inherited wealth, yet he was strongly for the Gospel of Wealth. He gave almost everything towards “the good of the world”. Despite this mentality, he hated Charity. He established over 2500 public libraries. Lots of his money went to libraries, institutes of higher learning, museums and concert halls.

Rockefeller didn’t believe, like Carnegie, that he should give away all of his money when he died. He still gave away lots of money, but it was nothing compared to the amount and percentage that Carnegie gave.

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