Was Reconstruction A Success Or Failure Essay

1500 Words6 Pages

Since the end of the Reconstruction era, scholarship over the question of why Reconstruction was considered a failed experiment for social change has been argued and debated. From the arguments by William Dunning, who argued that Radical Republicans in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination enacted a plan of Reconstruction that was full of scorn and humiliation for those southern states that had to be reincorporated back into the Union, to a revisionist school that argued Reconstruction was progressive in enacting social change for African American freedman, the arguments for why Reconstruction failed are endless. However, with this plethora of scholarship that has emerged, it can be argued that the primary reason in the failure of …show more content…

Another major scholar concerning slavery and the Civil War, Foner, in his book, argues that Reconstruction constituted a major period in American history, a time period that was the “beginning of an extended historical process: the adjustment of American society to the end of slavery.” This adjustment varied on a number of levels, most notably seen in the south, but Foner argues that it was the northern ideals found in the United States government, specifically Radical Republicans, that deserve the blame for the failure in Reconstruction. One of the strongest ideologies that Foner recognizes as present among congressmen was the free labor ideology, and Foner argues that free labor ideology after the Civil War failed on account of political action to empower African Americans was largely ignored. Foner argues that it was this failure and “erosion” of free labor ideology that had previously united Republicans “to remake Southern society in accordance with the principles of free labor and legal and political equality… made possible a resurgence of overt racism that undermined support for Reconstruction.” It was this empowerment taken on by the federal government that led to the growth and expansion of radical movements in the south who took more autonomy and favored less government involvement. The most radical movement that characterized these ideals was the Ku Klux Klan, who, as Foner argues, came as a result of the Radical Republicans who “stimulated its

Open Document