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First response to April
Concerning legislation, the Reconstruction Amendments produced the longest-lasting success of Congressional Reconstruction. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery (Foner, 2017, p.582), the Fourteenth granted citizenship to African-Americans (Foner, 2017, p. 583), and the Fifteenth gave African-American males the right to vote (Foner, 2017, p. 585). Finally promised rights that had previously only been enjoyed by white Americans, under a government controlled by white supremacy, African Americans took advantage of their new found freedom. African-Americans began to secure their families (Foner, 2017, p. 567). Committees, churches, and schools to were organized to improve education and sense of community (Foner, 2017, p.570). Land ownership became a reality for many (Foner, 2017, p.569). African Americans branched out of their roles in the community and into the broader sphere of state and ultimately national inclusion as political freedom was exercised to its fullest potential (Foner, 2017, pp.568-569) as evidenced by the significant black representation in Congress assisting in the development of new state constitutions and ratifying the Reconstruction Amendments (Foner, 2017, p.590).
Other far-reaching successes don’t concern legislation, but attitudes. Enduring discrimination such as the Black Codes (Foner, 2017, p. 580), Ku Klux Klan and vigilante groups propagating disenfranchisement (Ruane, n.d.), and almost a century deeply affected by Jim Crow Laws, I believe that ultimately the long-term success was the strength and resilience of the black community. African-Americans, stripped of their rights time and again, never forgot the Reconstruction and what was possible, even if only for a short time. Instead of giving up, it was a source of inspiration. It was clear that social, political, and economic struggles would be obstacles, but ones that were well worth fighting to overcome.
The failure of the Reconstruction revealed areas that were most in need of change. The recognition of the importance of equality was brought to the forefront and paved the way for the first steps in interracial democracy. It would take almost a century, but the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s would serve as a “Second Reconstruction” …” to begin to redress longstanding economic and social inequities” (“History, Art, & Archives”, n.d., para. 1). Moving forward, those working for equality had learned to secure provisions that the first Reconstruction lacked in order to sustain the Civil Rights Acts’ headway on a federal level. This does not imply, by any means, that the struggle for civil rights is resolved. However, learning from mistakes made during the Reformation has helped to develop a stronger, more effective campaign to affect not only lasting, but continuing change.
Foner, E. (2017). Give Me Liberty!: An American History (5th ed., Vol. 2). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives. (n.d.). The Civil Rights Movement And The Second Reconstruction, 1945-1968. Retrieved from https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Essays/Keeping-the-Faith/Civil-Rights-Movement/
Ruane, M. Presidential Reconstruction’s Failure, 1864–1867 Part 2 [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Online Website: https://mediacdn.bisk.com/AssetService/Preview/?mawID=59c7f934-0ccb-4a61-8a41-409d5f195376&d=0
Second Response to Timmy
The greatest and longest lasting success of Congressional Reconstruction is the Fifteenth Amendment. “The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited federal and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote because of race” (Foner 585). This Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America did not magically end injustice towards African-Americans, but it did pave the way to the inclusion of African-Americans into politics and their acceptance by white people. African-American still faced a century of fighting racial injustice and discrimination.
While the Thirteenth Amendment freed the slaves, the views of African-Americans remained. Whites still segregated them and barred them from having the same rights as everyone else. The Fourteenth Amendment gave every citizen the same protection and representation under the Constitution, but southern states had no real incentives to abide by this Amendment. The Fifteenth Amendment finally did the job of allowing African-Americans to vote. The reason this is so important is the bedrock of our democracy. African-Americans finally had a voice and a chance to vote in elections that would affect their future.
It was a long, hard century for African-Americans, but I believe they finally became integrated into society. Voting gave them a voice and they were able to turn elections in their favor. They were also able to become involved in politics and hold office. Racial discrimination still exists, but it is slowly removing itself from society. I believe that without the Fifteenth Amendment, states would have continuously found ways to avoid giving African-Americans a voice.
Foner, E. (2017). Give me Liberty!: An American history(5th ed., Vol. 2). New York: W. W. Norton & Company
Origi al topic-
Starting in 1865, Reconstruction after the Civil War ultimately failed to reform Southern attitudes toward African Americans. But for a brief moment under the period of Congressional Reconstruction, it appeared as though freed slaves might become accepted partners in American society. What do you think was the greatest (and longest lasting) success of Congressional Reconstruction? Support your answer with material from the assigned readings.
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