• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why, despite the victory of the Unionin the Civil War, did former slaves fail to secure full civil rights 1865 - 77?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Why, despite the victory of the Union in the Civil War, did former slaves fail to secure full civil rights 1865 - 77? The end of the Civil War provided America with the perfect opportunity to start again as a united and democratic country. The Northern victory had put an end to the threat of a rupture in the Union, and the future of the country had been established. However, there was also the far more significant chance to unite the country under the flag of liberty and equality, for which the North had won their devastating success. Surely victory would be useless if it was not pursued by a radical change in the situation and status of the African Americans, who, after all, had played a significant part in the war effort. Unfortunately, there were several obstacles in the way of true racial equality, which were destined to remain insurmountable for nearly one hundred years. At the end of the war, the challenge for the Northern leaders seemed intricate and thorny, but not necessarily impossible. The most important question still to be answered was what to do with the rebel states. Should they be treated leniently and allowed back into the union relatively easily, or should they be punished and reformed in order to ensure that Northern values and principles were extended to the South. Lincoln believed in the former view, so proposed the "ten-percent plan," under which ten percent of the white voters in a state had to pledge their allegiance to the union before the state was readmitted. ...read more.

Middle

The Fourteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Act and the extension in the power of the Freedman's Bureau were passed with the opposition of Johnson. These guaranteed blacks the rights of citizenship, the right to vote and the support of a powerful body working in their interest. For a few years, it looked as though equality might become more of a reality. In the elections of 1867 and '68 the blacks had the right to vote, and several reached positions of unprecedented seniority and by 1868 most states had repealed the Black Codes. For a brief period there were even two black senators, (the next to be elected was in 1966). Also in 1868 Johnson, after surviving impeachment charges the year before, was replaced as President by Ulysses Grant. Although equally as inept as Johnson, Grant did not try and obstruct Congress in the same way as Johnson had, and the huge republican majority in Congress had almost a free reign to carry on with Reconstruction. Why, then, as civil rights were starting to improve, and Reconstruction could at last carry on unhindered, did it prove such an abject failure? Seven years later it was effectively over, and the situation had almost reverted to that before the war. It seems that by and large the aim of the Radical Republicans was to create a South in the image of the North before the war, with some improvements such as black suffrage. ...read more.

Conclusion

There were very few blacks in the North, so the issue rarely entered the consciousness of the people. Moreover, the idea of actively doing something to promote the rights of the blacks was unfamiliar: many people thought that having their rights enshrined in the Constitution was sufficient. Politics, which could have kept the issue at the forefront of public opinion, lost interest. During the war politics had been something of vital importance, with the interests of the Union above those of parties or personalities, but by 1870 it had returned to the more mundane issues of attracting votes and being re-elected. Republicans realised they had to pander to the views of the Southern whites, while Northern Democrats realised the importance of the black vote. All the radical campaigners such as Stevens retired or lost their enthusiasm, and the government decided that it would be easier to cooperate with the Southern leaders. In 1877 Hayes was elected President, on the condition that he brought about the end of Reconstruction. In fact, it was already at an end. The Northern political will had died out, to be replaced by apathy in the North and continued and renewed discrimination in the South. Reconstruction had been tried, and it had failed. Some might say that it had been destined to fail from the very beginning, and that the South could not deal with such a radical change in such a short space of time. Whatever the reason for its failure, it left the American South backward and unenlightened for the next eighty years. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Assess the view that the Supreme Court was the most important branch of federal ...

    4 star(s)

    anything of any particular note to move civil rights forward either, and so during the late 70s and the beginning of the 80s, the only real changes to civil rights legislation came from the Supreme Court, who began to withdraw from affirmative action - and in some ways, this was

  2. Peer reviewed

    To what extent were Malcolm X and the subsequent Black Power Movement the 'Evil ...

    4 star(s)

    "White self-interest ensured poor prospects for better education and housing for ghetto blacks."45 Whites wanted to keep African Americans separate in order to keep house prices up and make sure black children could not hold back white children in education.

  1. Political Causes of the Civil War

    Clearly Lincoln was trying to convey to his Southern citizens that he supported their rights to employ slave laborers. In reinforcing his commitment to the Fugitive Slave Act, which provided Southerners with the right to claim slaves as their property, Lincoln stated that under the law escaped slaves need to be returned to their rightful owners.

  2. Describe Wilsons Fourteen points, Why did Congress fail to ratify the Peace Settlement?

    which is why Lloyd George described him as ?kindly, sincere, straightforward? and ?tactless, obstinate and vain?. When Wilson left for Europe, he took no Republicans with him as he neither liked nor trusted them. He had deliberately offended the Republicans, even though several of his Fourteen Points were supported by some of them.

  1. Research on the major Civil rights events between 1963 to 1968

    Desegregation in Birmingham took place slowly after the demonstrations. King and the SCLC were criticized by some for ending the campaign with promises that were too vague and "settling for a lot less than even moderate demands". In fact, Sydney Smyer, president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, re-interpreted the terms of the agreement.

  2. Civil Rights Revision Cards 1945-68

    BUT ? in the heart of the South (Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana) schools remained segregated. By 1957 only 3% of black Americans studied education in a mixed, desegregated school! 1. Southern Manifesto (1956) ? signed by most Southern politicians ? committed themselves to fight against BROWN decision. 2.

  1. Was Lincoln a genuine advocate for civil rights for African Americans?

    the key issues that caused South Carolina to secede from the Union shows that Lincoln?s public stance on slavery was actually causing the Union to break up, something which Lincoln was completely against. Lincoln was clearly, as the quote suggests, seen as opposing slavery and this meant that many Southern

  2. Do you agree that the wartime alliance between the USA and the Soviet Union ...

    The suspicions held by Stalin were mutual with the west who began to see Stalin as the new Hitler, intent on spreading communism throughout Europe. Stalin had become bitter following the huge losses to the USSR and felt owed by the west and was determined to get something for the sacrifices that his country made.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work