Reconstruction as Experiment That Fell Short of Expectations

Reconstruction is a period in American history covering 1865-1877 following the American Civil War. The events of the war left the southern part in ruins politically, socially, and economically. The farms, cities, and people’s lives were greatly destroyed following the invasion by the Union soldiers, and inflation levels increased. The effects called for major reconstruction of the region based on three key aspects; transforming the society, re-establishing the Union, and proper legislation to agitate for the rights of the slaves. The measures were contained in the Ten-Percent Plan under the Lincoln administration. The Plan stipulated that at least 10 percent of the population from each southern state pledge loyalty to the ruling American administration.

A number of radicals, mainly from the Republican Party, wanted more aggressive measures to avoid future attempts to secede. Despite the tough measures imposed upon the slaves, the ruling government working together with congress through the Freedmen’s Bureau, managed to improve the conditions. Some poor whites and slaves were allocated land, sanitation and education were improved, and the cities were rebuilt to facilitate economic recovery. Furthermore, laws were passed at the federal and national levels to protect the rights of black people, including the right to take part in elections. In general, various successes were realized in the process of reconstruction. Reconstruction led to the reunification of the South and the North, and slavery was abolished from the constitution.

However, the process failed by allowing some rulers to reverse gains made by imposing voter qualifications. In addition, the slave’s standard of living remained low due to the sharecropping system. Therefore, I would describe reconstruction as a well-intended experiment that fell short of expectations.

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