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The system of labor which they had relied up as an economic standard had been destroyed, and the autonomy which the plantation owners of the area had fought so hard to retain was gone. After the North reigned victorious, the South entered a period known as “Reconstruction”. During this period, a litany of groups attempted to shape the course of the South’s new direction. The groups that attempted to influence Reconstruction were; the rich white Southern planter elite, the yeoman farmers, the Republicans, the scalawags, the carpetbaggers, and the freedmen. When the civil war ended and slavery was officially abolished, the planter elite attempted to reestablish their political dominion. Though with the signing of the treaty of Appomattox, they surrendered their fight, and ultimately accepted the emancipation of the slaves (thereby ceasing their system of labor), the planter elite attempted to use Reconstruction to rebuild their hegemony within the South. This meant subjugating the black people into a system similar to slavery, with the only difference being that they (the blacks) had to subsist for themselves, and instead of threats of punishment, they would be faced with threats of termination. The planter elite intended to; “let everything proceed as formerly…the contractual relation being substituted for that of master and slave” (Foner, Short History of Reconstruction pg. 60). In the initial stages of Reconstruction this was made easier due to President Johnson’s lenient policies. Because of this, the planter elite were able to establish Black Codes, which stipulated that blacks (1) could not own or lease land, (2) had to show proof of yearly employment, and (3) could not be hired by another employer until their contract was fulfilled with their current one. The planter elite were a part of, and aligned with the Southern Democrats (most of them being high ranking members). Because of this, they frequently clashed with the Radical Republicans (whose ideologies and
the freedmen had the advantage in determining what land they worked on. the planter elite could not reduce blacks to wage earning laborers. minus supplies. In an effort to alleviate this shortage of labor. the South gave it legal backing by implementing various lien laws which granted the landlords first claim on a tenant’s crop. the Planter class began to encourage immigration. was establishing what was known as a system of Sharecropping. 63). Unfortunately. Ultimately. and gave the freedmen a form autonomy over their working conditions (a motivation which they aspired for). This was because it both. . “control of black labor rested upon maintaining their own privileged access to the productive land of the plantation belt. Sharecropping was when a plantation owner would employ a (generally) black family to tend to their land. the landlord was usually the only vendor for supplies.plans for the South clashed with theirs). Because of this. 60). Short History of Reconstruction pg. there was more land acreage than there were laborers to tend to it. and because of this the sharecroppers ultimately received little to no revenue. This theory however was tested because of the weak land to labor ratio. Partly due to this labor shortage. Though sharecropping was generally an unfair pursuit. Short History of Reconstruction pg. sharecropping became the dominant form of black labor in the South. and in idea be given a third of the value of crops. One main policy that the Planter elite had was to maintain control of their land (not allowing the blacks to rent or own). as one farmer stated. and oftentimes wound up in debt to the landlord. What they ended up doing. believing that the only way to maintain economic and social dominance within this new South was to maintain control of the land.” (Foner. This idea was a standard amongst nearly all the planter elite. This caused freedmen to established a dependency with sharecropping. it was lucky to get “a negro at any price” (Foner. however this still did not bring them relief. Foner states. gave the planter elite economic leverage. During this time.
(1) laws that regulated hunting. due to the fact that they could maintain control of where their families worked. as well as farming on unoccupied terrain. and to ultimately become land owners. Many freedmen were hunting. They refused to become wage earners in fields viewing it to similar to the previous conditions that they faced within slavery. the . along with the fact that it was the party who freed them. farming. and fishing. Those who diverged from the Sharecropping system instead began to settle on vacant land to subsist for themselves through hunting. and therefore had to instead partake in the newly established Sharecropping system. Their motivations regarding the new Reconstruction South were based upon the things which they had previously been denied. They were unable to participate within general Tenant farming however due to the necessary credit needed to pay upfront to the landlord. and (3) prohibition of animals grazing on vacant land. their autonomy. The latter being a sign of manhood amongst male freedmen. and fishing for their own subsistence. the enclosure laws also hurt smaller Yeoman farmers. These enclosures laws contained. and fishing. Because the Freedmen’s motivations and ideologies greatly contradicted the Southern planter elite (who were Democratic). The Freedmen were the newly freed blacks. and above all else they could ensure that their wives stayed out of the fields.Another policy the Planter elite established were “enclosure laws” which were in response towards freedmen’s attempts to avoid sharecropping through settling on vacant land. Their main goals were to achieve economic independence. (2) taxes levied upon gun licenses and hunting dogs. While all these stipulations were enacted to maintain control over the freedmen. Until they could raise the necessary funds to buy. The banks would not give the freedmen credit to rent out the land. they aspired to rent land. This however was made impossible through the aforementioned enclosure laws. The idea of tenant farming appealed to them.
The Carpetbaggers. The skeptics had credence as the closely supervised work. Foner writes of one Carpetbagger who upon coming South stated. 67). (Foner. many freedmen took an active role in the Republican party of the South. The carpetbaggers attempted to reform the South using economic regeneration assisted by scientific methods previously utilized in the North. The Southern planters were skeptical that these methods would be embraced and welcomed by the freedmen. and formed partnerships within the South. Prior to laws which disenfranchised them. Carpetbaggers were Northerners who purchased land. and in some cases ideological change. Short History of Reconstruction pg. challenged the pace of work the employed freedmen were previously accustomed to. Short History of Reconstruction pg. many even serving as elected officials in state legislations. “If the freedmen were to become productive free laborers. The Carpetbaggers were also very influential in the Deep South. and directly contradicted their desire to direct their own labor. changes in routine. 68). “I am going to introduce new ideas here in the farming line and show the beauties of free over slave labor”. Scalawags were white Southerners who supported the federal reconstruction plan. leased plantations. and adapting Northern policies into the South.Freedmen were aligned with the Republican party. They received this name because a majority of them would come to the South with all their belongings packed into a carpetbag. they were viewed as men who had . it must be done by giving them new masters” (Foner. Many of them were soldiers who were motivated to come to the South by profit. in reforming the state legislations. Castigated by the Southern Planter elite as “white negroes”. The Carpetbaggers was a derogatory term used to describe the Northern people who migrated to the South during reconstruction. as well as much of the North were doubtful of the Freedmen’s ability to control their own labor the New York Times even writing.
Along with this. The Scalawags were firmly aligned with the Radical Republicans. In the early years of Reconstruction the Yeomen were the ones not paying the bulk of taxes. During the time of Reconstruction. While real property refers to land and real estate. entrepreneurs who advocated a new modernized south and Yeomen farmers who sought to preserve semi subsistent agriculture. tools. the Yeomen would pay the bulk of them. The Republican party was a single entity with a litany of different motivations and strategies for Reconstruction in the South. President Andrew Johnson had a weak post war strategy towards reforming the South. The aforementioned Enclosure laws. These policies added on to the already resentful attitude the Yeomen farmers had towards the Planter elite. This Tax Code meant that while the Planter Elite would pay little to no taxes. many laws implemented by the Planter elite in order to castigate and subjugate the Freedmen also had adverse effects upon them. The Yeomen farmers were the smaller non-plantation farmers that resided in the South. however these codes changed things. personal property consisted of everything excluding this. sharing many mutual goals for the South. This alliance was perceived by many as “a marriage of convenience” with both groups mutually benefitting the other. wartime unionists. His plan entailed leniently restoring the South’s former . This continued with the planter elite’s enforcement of a Tax Code which revised the tax laws so that the bulk of taxes would be levied on holders of personal. including houses. rather than real property. Many of the underlying reasons for this alliance were their motivation for financial benefit. the Scalawags were also involved in an alliance with the Freedmen. and their view of a Reconstructed South. and status. The Scalawags were composed of outside men of prominence and rank. and business capital.betrayed the South in their quest for political office. more specifically the law stipulating the illegality of free grazing seriously hindered the Yeomen’s ability to provide for themselves.
by refusing to seat the representatives from Southern states. the Radical Republicans were able to take control of Reconstruction efforts. they now had the two thirds majority necessary to override Presidential vetoes. not rights for African Americans. His policy towards the Southern states was much more lax compared to other groups within his party. The main facet of establishing the period of Reconstruction known as Radical . what was mutually agreed upon by all factions was that they should have political rights. Though the idea of blacks having economic rights was debated within the Republican party. (Short History of Reconstruction pg. which granted them executive power. along with the Fifteenth Amendment which made it unconstitutional to deny a person the right to vote based on race(the former amendment making the black codes illegal. Foner states that. The Radical Republicans led by Thaddeus Stevens believed that the South should be dealt with using a firmer approach. They began this takeover. By doing this. and letting them essentially retain their autonomy. “the driving force of radical ideology was the utopian vision of a nation whose citizens enjoyed equality of civil rights seen to by a powerful beneficial nation state. and therefore controlled much of the executive process of passing laws. and initially restore things to the status-quo (excluding slavery). and implement a proscription towards rebels. The main objective of the Radical Republicans was to destroy the aristocratic power of the planters and create an interracial democracy within the South. the Radical Republicans passed the Fourteenth Amendment which made all freedmen citizens. 65) Because they controlled the House of Representatives. while the latter amendment aiding the franchisement of African Americans). He believed in a Reconstruction that would make the Southerners swear oaths of loyalty. President Johnson’s main motivation for implementing this strategy was to appeal to his Southern supporters.status. In response to the Black codes. This basically allowed the Southern planter elite to establish the Black codes.
and placed the entire area under martial law (breaking the region down into five districts). which caused their priorities to shift. Going into Reconstruction. and they were revolted by the corruption that was common in urban political machines. Rutherford B Hayes the Republican nominee and Samuel J Tilden the Democratic party nominee from New York were caught in a controversial election wrought with corruption throughout various states’ voting systems. as well as building schools and hospitals. a backroom deal was struck which gave . The Panic of 1873 brought forth with it a depression which ultimately distracted them from Reconstruction. feeling that their job was done. economic problems were confronting them. Reconstruction ultimately ended with the presidential election of 1876. Overall they were fed up with Reconstruction. bringing forth an electoral crisis. Along with this sentiment of discontent. The Republicans also had another subgroup within their party whose motivations were more industrially based. this group of Republicans viewed the freedmen as a check on the previously unchallenged power of the planter class. They were tired of deploying troops to break up racial disturbances in the South.Reconstruction was the implementation of the Reconstruction Acts. With some returns disputed neither candidate had the necessary number of electoral votes in order to take the presidency. The Reconstruction Acts also established and supported government agencies such as The Freedmen’s Bureau. These acts disbanded the state governments within the South. In order to rectify this situation. These groups shared common interests with one another in regards to Reconstruction. the carpetbaggers. The Freedmen’s Bureau assisted the African Americans with gaining land and finding employment. and the Senate. and the Scalawags. The groups aligned with the Republicans were the freedmen. The Northerners had grown increasingly malcontent with the way that Reconstruction had been going.
the Yeomen farmers. this would of given the freedmen the economic independence necessary for establishing political institutions. . could in fact be treated like an occupied territory which they seized. and therefore cease Reconstruction. These groups’ intentions shaped the South into what it became. and were no longer (initially) part of the United States of America. An early promise that they made to the freedmen was that they would redistribute the land seized during the war and give them each “forty acres and a mule”. and it’s people were forced to regroup and reestablish themselves. The planter elite. the carpetbaggers. the freedmen. Reconstruction ultimately failed to establish racial equality and black freedom due to the fact that those in charge (the Radical Republicans) did not carry out all their intentions for the South. who feared that this would set a precedent which would threaten their own property (the radical working class at this time was calling for the nationalization of factories in the North). the scallywags.Hayes the presidency in exchange for the troops to leave the South. This plan was not implemented however. If the land had actually been redistributed. Reconstruction was a period within the South directly after the Civil war. and ravaged by the destruction of conflict. and the Republicans were groups that each had a distinct (yet sometimes overlapping) vision for what direction Reconstruction would pull the South in. and making strides towards forming an interracial democracy. the Republicans believed that it could be done because the South had seceded. due to the fact that the driving force behind the Radical Republican party was the industrial class. Though the idea of government redistribution of personal property was illegal. The South was war-torn. There economic system (slavery) was defunct.
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