Chapter 12 Section 2- Reconstructing Society

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U.S. History

Jason Saba

CHAPTER 12: “Reconstruction and Its Effects” _____________________________________________________ _ Section 2: Reconstructing Society One Americans Story: Robert G. Fitzgerald, an African American, served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. Freedmen’s Bureau later sent him to teach in a Virginian town, where he labored diligently against illiteracy and poverty that slavery had forced upon the African Americans whom he taught. Conditions in the Postwar South: Southern voters elected new, Republican-dominated governments  more reconstruction Physical and Economic Conditions Southern states faced the challenge of physically rebuilding the battle-scarred regions Southerners of every economic class were poorer than they were before the Civil War 1/5 of the Southern population died in the war, including African Americans Public Works Programs Republican governments built roads, institutions, and public school systems These projects were expensive  the South increased taxes of all kinds  taxes drained existing resources and slowed the region’s recovery Politics in the Postwar South Scalawags and Carpetbaggers Scalawags: a term used by Democrats to call white Southerners who joined the Republican Party. Scalawags joined this party in the hopes that they would gain political offices with the help of the African American vote – the majority was small farmers Carpetbaggers: a term used by Democrats to call Northerners who moved to the South after the war. This name was given to them upon the fact that they believed they could fit all of their belongings into a small bag made of carpet. Southerners despised them because they thought they wanted to exploit the new land for their sole benefit African Americans as Voters Although they were uneducated in politics, 9/10th of them supported the Republican Party 90% of all African American voters voted Political Differences Scalawags disliked the Republican commitment to civil rights and suffrage for Blacks  eventually, many of them returned to the Democratic Party Republicans tried to get more votes by appointing Democrats to office  failure Some thought that the end of slavery would benefit the South. Others resisted the idea of equal rights Several Southern planters emigrated to Europe, Mexico, and Brazil after the war

Notes taken from, The Americans, by McDougal Littel

Former Slaves Face Many Challenges New-Won Freedoms African Americans were afraid to test their newly given rights They were faced with many tough decisions, with only the skills of farming Blacks now enjoyed the freedom to travel Thousands of African Americans headed south for job opportunities Reunification of Families Many African Americans went searching for their loved ones The Freedmen’s Bureau worked to reunite families Many were never found Education Blacks of all ages sought education from relatives, institutions, and Freedmen’s Bureau Education costs reached up to $1 million Some Southerners, outraged by the idea, acted violently – Washington Eager murdered Churches and Volunteer Groups Praise meetings: blacks held their own religious gatherings Blacks founded their own churches  influenced many other organizations They formed other groups which fostered independence, provided financial and emotional support for their families, and offered Blacks leadership skills Politics and African Americans Blacks were winning a great number of offices Black officeholders remained in the minority, despite there being as many blacks as whites in the South Hiram Revels: the first African-American senator. He recruited blacks to fight for the Union during the Civil War and also served as army chaplain Laws against Segregation Southern state governments almost completely repealed black codes (refer to Chapter 12: Section 1) Legislators proposed bills to desegregate public transportation They focused more on the building up of the black community Changes in the Southern Economy 40 Acres and a Mule During the Civil War, General Sherman had promised the freed slaves who followed his army 40 acres per family and the use of army mules After the war, they reclaimed their plots and farmed them until 1865, when President Johnson ordered that the original landowners be allowed to reclaim their lands Blacks became angry and demanded a part of their land Radical Republicans called for the government to confiscate plantations and to redistribute part of the land to former slaves  Congress rejected land-reform proposals Restoration of Plantations Planter class wanted to restore plantations. But, in order for this to work, they argued that force labor was required since they feared that they could no longer make a profit Subsistence farming: growing just enough food for their own families

Notes taken from, The Americans, by McDougal Littel

Sharecropping and Tenant Farming Sharecropping: landowners divided their land and gave each worker a few acres, along with seed and tools. At harvest time, each worker gave a share of his crops, usually half, to the landowner This didn’t work out well for the worker; they didn’t have enough crops to make a profit Tenant Farming: croppers who saved a little and bought their own tools could drive a better bargain with landowners. They might even rent land for cash from the planters, and keep all their harvest Very few farmers saved enough cash to buy land and pay for future debts Cotton No Longer King Demand for cotton had plummeted Solution: make more cotton  failure- it made prices lower Textile and tobacco industries emerged  success State banks in the South were riddled with Confederate debts which were almost never paid  bank failure All of this, in turn, led to the anger of many whites  forming of white groups to embark on a campaign to terrorize Blacks into giving up their political rights

Notes taken from, The Americans, by McDougal Littel

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