Reconstruction

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Good video featuring noted Civil War historian Allen Guelzo on Reconstruction.  Once Lincoln was assassinated Reconstruction was probably doomed.  He wanted to extend civil liberties to the newly freed blacks and bring the states of the old Confederacy back into the Union.  That these goals were in conflict with each other did not escape his keen intellect.  To accomplish both would require all his skill and wiliness as a master politician.  The odds were against him.  After his death his successors were the Radical Republicans in Congress who had little love of treating the South as anything other than a collection of conquered provinces, and were keen on civil rights for blacks, and Democrat Andrew Johnson, who wanted to get the Southern states back into the Union as swiftly as possible, and who had little interest in civil rights for blacks.  Open warfare soon broke out over the divided legacy of Lincoln, with Johnson coming one vote shy of being removed from office.

Grant tried to carry out Lincoln’s wishes once he became President, and he fought a largely successful campaign against the Ku Klux Klan, but he realized that the North was tiring of all this while most white Southerners were completely opposed to anything resembling political equality for blacks, although this varied from state to state, with some states being better for blacks than others.

With the contested election of 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes attained the necessary electoral votes to become President by agreeing to remove Federal troops from Louisiana and South Carolina in the Compromise of 1877, bringing Reconstruction to an end. Effective protection for civil rights for blacks would not come until the country was observing the centennial of the Civil War.

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