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Carter Penegor

HIS 108 Sec: 003 Calvert

December 8, 2015
My assignment is to discuss the document Three Months Among the
Reconstructionists written by Northern journalist Sidney Andrews in 1866. According to the
textbook, the author is anonymous, but with further research I was able to come to the conclusion
that Sidney Andrews, born in 1834 from Massachusetts but had lived in Illinois, lived and wrote
the events that took place in this document one year prior in 1865.1 Throughout the text, it is
important to understand that the information being retrieved from the document is coming from a
Northerners perspective.
The historical context of this document is the author travels for three months across the
South through three different states; North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia; post-civil war
during the reconstruction era. Everything occurs during many tensions between the North and
South leaving Sidney Andrews to be brave enough to travel to the South although he may not
have anything against them, they have everything against him for the majority. There are still
many major racial tensions going on during this time. In the document, Sidney Andrews
mentions an incident involving whites believing they can still control black slaves even after they
are free, (Andrews, pg6)2, They [whites] readily enough admit that the Government has made
them free, but appear to believe that they still have the right to exercise over him the old
Shows how the South reacts to post-civil war and how it accepts and implements the
changes. Although the entire country is dealing with the pain and hardships of the capacity of
1 Sidney Andrews. (2012, November 23). Retrieved December 8, 2015, from
2 Sidney Andrews, Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, pg. 334 in Course Reader

men that were lost during the war from both side, it must be especially difficult for the South to
deal with because they lost the battle and must return to the Union. Also, their entire livelihoods
have changed since slaves are now free. The South dont want to believe reality in doing so is
causing so many more racial injustices that are far more severe than whites in America have had
to deal with. Even former slave owners are confused as to who is going to do everything for
them. The slaves may be free legally, but race wars are just getting started during the
Reconstruction era. It isnt fair to anyone who must deal with the hardships that the slaves have
and will go through.
Sidney Andrews was curious on how the South would adapt to the changes of the slavery
abolishment post-civil war. It not only changed the lives of the slaves, but it changed the lives of
the people around them, which made the Reconstruction era even harder to handle and
reconstruct in a positive way. How receptive are the men and women of the south? Well for
instance, one incentive for the upper class to help with the Reconstruction era is that without
their help in reaching out to the lower class, times, thoughts, and actions amongst the South will
not be changed until something groundbreaking happens. States failed to realize that they will be
stronger together than they could be alone because they prefer to govern alone.
He wanted to show the changes that the south must deal with and how they are going
about these changes. In many parts of the states that he visited, the locals would treat him better
than any other Northerner, but a few of the locals stereotype him as a Yankee and want nothing
to do with him. It was generally the upper class and more urbanized families who treated Mr.
Andrews more respectable. The poorer white men and women would wish their worst nightmare
upon him. For example, in the document, (Andrews, pg1)3, he overhears many travelers of the
South in his hotel staying hopeful that the passenger trains wouldnt take any Northerners around
3 Sidney Andrews, Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, pg. 329 in Course Reader

on their trains. This document is very opinionated through a Northerners discretion as he believes
that the upper class basically rules the lower class and that the South will never be able to have
as structured cities as the North does. Andrews mentions that he believes there are two types of
slavery (Andrews, pg2)4, one being the poor whites and the second being the slaves. This is an
interesting statement from a Northerner man considering he probably doesnt know what it is
like to be either of those groups, as they are not remotely comparable. Andrews mentions
something very important about the two classes between whites and blacks, (Andrews, pg5)5,
The whites charge generally that the negro is idle, and that the bottom of all local disturbances,
and credit him with most of the vices and very few of the virtues of humanity. The negroes
charge that the whites are revengeful, and intend to cheat the laboring class at every opportunity,
and credit them with neither good purposed nor kindly hearts.
He took an in depth look at North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Each state that
he would visit, would end up having their individualized characteristic towards the Union. North
Carolina would pretend to be loyal to the Union, although their trickery would easily be sniffed
out. South Carolina, being the first confederate state to secede from the Union, was all about
loyalty, if they got their way. For example, when Lincoln was running for president, South
Carolina promised to the Union that if Abraham Lincoln gets elected president, they would
secede from the Union with no questions asked. When Lincoln became president, they definitely
followed through with their once thought to be irrational plan that turned out to come true. For
Georgia, they believed that the Union would be missing one of the supreme states if they were to
secede and join the Confederacy

4 Sidney Andrews, Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, pg. 330 in Course Reader
5 Sidney Andrews, Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, pg. 333 in Course Reader

He took notice of who was capable of reconfiguring their thoughts and mindset towards
the political and social issues and found out the big city locals with a better education and
urbanized seem to have a more articulate perspective on social injustices rather than the more
rural and less educated locals. According to Mark Wahlgren Summers book, A Dangerous Stir:
Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction, that discusses the passion for the Union in
winning the Civil War was primarily focused on saving and preserving the Union with its
republican institutions remaining intact.6 Mark Wahlgren Summers indicates that there is a clear
distinction between the rich and the poor in the South and the educated and non-educated in the
South. They are issues such as these that needed to be tackled in the South right after slavery is
resolved. A non-educated white man is just as useful as a non-educated slave of the same body
type and they have yet to discover this at that point in time.
When comparing this document by Sidney Andrews with the document written and
enforced by the State of Mississippi, Black Codes. Just as this document discusses the term
Freedmen, Black Codes also discusses what to do with the freedmen that are now all around
Mississippi living a free life so they believe. Black Codes is a set of laws to determine a possible
outcome for whats to come when handling these freemen. The two documents are similar ideals,
but way different perspectives. Three Months Among the Reconstructionists was from the
perspective of a Northerner who didnt know what to expect when travelling to his three chosen
southern states in regards to what all can and will happen in the South during the Reconstruction
era and what is a possible strategy to turn around the South into his idea of the right direction.
Black Codes has an all too different approach and perspective on these heavy topics considering

6 Summers, M. (2009). A dangerous stir: Fear, paranoia, and the making of Reconstruction.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

they were written by the State of Mississippi which is in the deep South where many slaves were
held under slavery up until after the abolishment occurred.7
To conclude the document, Andrews explains five things for the nation to do in order to
successfully reconstruct the United States into a country again. The five things he mentioned are,
(Andrews, pg7)8, make haste slowly in the work of reconstruction; temper justice with mercy,
but see to it that justice is not overborne; keep military control of these lately rebellious States,
till they guaranty a republican form of government; scrutinize carefully the personal fitness of
the men chosen therefrom as representatives in the Congress of the United States; and sustain
therein some agency that shall stand between the whites and blacks, and aid each class in coming
to a proper understanding of its privileges and responsibilities. It is important to remember and
understand that this is coming from a Northerners perspective. He does have a valid point
towards education and how important it is that everyone across the country be educated enough
to a point that it is almost crucial.
This document provided an understanding of the southern perspective seeing the south
make drastic changes in order to continue life as a different citizen than once before the civil war
began. If the South wants to continue to see advancements in how the government tackles hot
topics, they should stay with the Union and continue to cooperate because when the nation is
together as a whole, there are very few establishments that can beat them. Sidney Andrews had a
few things that he discovered the states had done correctly so far, (Andrews, pg.3)9, Complaint
is made that the Southern people have recently elected military men to mast of their local State
offices. We do ourselves wrong in making this complaint. I fount it almost everywhere true in
Georgia and the Carolinas that the best citizens of to-day are the Confederate soldiers of
7 State of Mississippi, Black Codes, pgs. 326-328 in Course Reader
8 Sidney Andrews, Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, pg. 335 in Course Reader
9 Sidney Andrews, Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, pg. 332 in Course Reader

yesterday. Of course, in many individual cases they are bitter and malignant; but in general the
good of the Union, no less than the hope of the South, lies in the bearing of the men who were
privates and minor officers in the armies of Lee and Johnston.
History changed, therefore the document was written. At the time, history was being
formed daily with more and more revolutions or setbacks that stand between the North and
South. The uneducated Southerners arent even wanting to become educated as explained by
Andrews, (Andrews, pg.2)10, The situation is horrible enough, when the full force of this fact is
comprehended; yet there is still lower deep,--there is small desire, even feeble longing, for
schools and books and newspapers. Now why would someone of any region of this world not
want to become educated? Its one of the beauties that this Earth has to offer. They didnt want to
be educated and grown in order to form new thoughts and ideas against slavery itself. What
would stop them from gaining more knowledge than necessary?
This article reveals the views of those living in the south and those accustomed to owning
slaves. The role of fear in politics is explained in Mark Wahlgren Summers novel, A dangerous
stir: Fear, paranoia, and the making of Reconstruction.11 He mentions that everybody in the
nation had figured that the war had not resolved any of the issues, or at least imagined that it
hadnt, but with the Norths commitment to continue the Reconstruction period in order to
hopefully ally with the South and put these dramatic issues behind them. As a historian over the
Reconstruction era, Mark Wahlgren Summers is constantly asked what it is that finally had the
South go all in on the efforts to fix the United States of Americas democratic union into a
Republic that each could understand. His answer to that is the South were running out of options
and had no other ideas on what they possibly could do for the Reconstructionist era.
10 Sidney Andrews, Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, pg. 330 in Course Reader
11 Summers, M. (2009). A dangerous stir: Fear, paranoia, and the making of Reconstruction.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

First real insight into the lives of slaves and their masters who now must vary how they
carry out life. The families who have been split up due to slavery and the masters who are
shocked that slavery has abolished are not exactly sure what to do with their farms, jobs, and
plantations considering they cant exactly legally enslave anyone. They will actually have to pay
someone better money than they ever have in order for them to do par or under par the job that
the slaves had done for them.