Reconstruction was a relatively short period in US history that followed immediately after the Civil War and marked a qualitatively new developmental stage of the state. Reconstruction took place between 1865 and 1877; within this time, the states that separated from the Union before the Civil War reunited with the whole state. Moreover, political and legislative changes impacted slavery which was abolished by Lincoln’s efforts during this period. However, despite positive developments in the lives of Southerners, the changes were not implemented peacefully as intended. Much violence was committed against African Americans, which showed that the process of state development is a challenge that requires long-term commitment and multiple interventions to achieve desired results.
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There are multiple historically influenced reasons explaining why the period of Reconstruction was characterized by a high level of violent behaviors and terror. The legislative and political predetermines of such an outcome were particularly influential. Indeed, in years immediately after the Civil War, the rights of slaves were expanded. Slavery was abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; moreover, it was made illegal and unconstitutional under the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of 1865. Such shifts in legislation meant that the distribution of power between whites and African Americans would change, resulting in a hindered position of the white population. Therefore, racist organizations like Ku Klux Klan appeared to promote political terror and killings of former slaves. Special Black Codes were developed to reduce the rights of African Americans to live as free individuals treated by the state the same way as any other ethnicity.
The Southern states after the Civil War constituted a specific political region. These states were newly reunited with the rest of the states of the Union and were planned to be reordered according to Lincoln’s government plan. To ensure that Southern states supported the Union’s policies and Constitution, Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction Plan was implemented to pursue Southern states to support antislavery legislation. In response to such harsh actions, the local Radical Republicans opposed major changes in their political, economic, and social order. However, finally, the Republican’s opposition was stopped, and the economic development of the new South began.
In a similar manner, Reconstruction significantly changed the lives of such population groups in the United States and Southerners, African Americans, and Northern businessmen. With the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, as well as after the Thirteenth Amendment, African Americans obtained more freedom and rights. They obtained the right to vote, be paid for employment, and own property. As for the Southerners, their life was challenged due to the continuous battle against the implementation of emancipatory policies. For example, Jim Crow Laws were enacted to promote segregation of African Americans from the white population. Finally, Reconstruction advanced the industrial revolution and fast economic development in the North, providing Northern businessmen with more opportunities.
In summary, the period of Reconstruction was an ambiguous period in the history of the United States. On the one hand, it promoted democracy, unity of states, and emancipation of slaves, which were positive outcomes. However, on the other hand, such changes were opposed by the white population that benefited from slavery and did not want to provide African Americans with equal rights. Their violent actions marked Reconstruction as a tragic period which ultimately complicated the provision of Constitutional rights to formerly enslaved in the future.