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Reconstruction And The New South

Chapter Fifteen Main Themes
  1. Radical Reconstruction changed the South in many significant ways, but ultimately fell short of the full transformation needed to secure equality for the freedmen.
  2. White society and the federal government lacked the will to enforce effectively most of the constitutional and legal guarantees acquired by blacks during Reconstruction.
  3. The policies of the Grant administration moved beyond Reconstruction matters to foreshadow issues of the late nineteenth century, such as political corruption and currency reform.
  4. White leaders reestablished economic and political control of the South and sought to modernize the region through industrialization while redrawing the color line of racial discrimination in public life.
  5. The race question continued to dominate Southern life well past Reconstruction into modern times.

A thorough study of Chapter Fifteen should enable the student to understand:
  • The competing notions of freedom that arose in the years immediately after the Civil War, and the attempt by the Freedmen's Bureau to negotiate them.

  • The Reconstruction strategy begun by Abraham Lincoln before his death, and Andrew Johnson's response to it after his death.

  • The differences between Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction, and the reasons for the transition to the latter set of policies.

  • The meanings of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments for civil rights in the South.

  • The Reconstruction governments in practice, and Southern (black and white) reaction to them.

  • The growth and impact of sharecropping and the crop-lien system on the economic development of the South and the economic independence of former slaves.

  • The debate among historians concerning the nature of Reconstruction, its accomplishments, and its ultimate effects on the South.

  • The national problems faced by President Ulysses S. Grant, and the reasons for his lack of success as chief executive in the domestic arena.

  • The diplomatic successes of Grant's administrations, including the purchase of Alaska and the settling of the Alabama claims.

  • The critical greenback question, and how it reflected the postwar financial problems of the nation.

  • The alternatives available to address the crisis spawned by the election of 1876, and the effects of the so-called Compromise of 1877 on Reconstruction.

  • The methods used by "Redeemers" in the South to achieve "home rule", and the social, economic, and racial decisions made by Southern whites in fashioning the New South.

  • The reasons for the failure of the South to develop a strong industrial economy after Reconstruction.

  • The ways in which Southerners decided to handle the race question, and the origin of the system of racial discrimination identified with "Jim Crow."

  • The response of blacks to conditions in the South following Reconstruction.

The Unfinished Nation: BriefOnline Learning Center

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