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Post Reconstruction South

Post Reconstruction South

After the Civil War, reconstruction in the South brought about much-needed change. Slavery had been abolished and African American men could vote. Laws that protected Black people were enforced by federal troops. When the troops left, the majority of the rights that African Americans had won were taken away. This article will provide insight into the post-reconstruction South.

Reconstruction

Before we can break down post-reconstruction, let's look at the reconstruction period. Reconstruction lasted from 1875 to 1877 and was supposed to be a time of reconciliation, rebuilding, and new starts. Politicians didn't agree on how integrated the newly freed Black people, who were called freedmen, should become or how harsh the punishments should be for formally Confederate states and people. In the end, freedmen were given rights but trapped as wage slaves while former Confederates slowly reclaimed the South.

Wage Slave:

Someone who is fully dependent on their wages to survive. They typically are not able to save money because of how poorly they are paid.

Post-Reconstruction South Civil War Map StudySmarterFig. 1- This map shows which states where a part of the Confederacy and which were Union.

Reconstruction was partially successful because radical republicans were able to push the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments which gave freedmen rights to fair trials and the right to vote. Schools were established for black and poor white people. Many freedmen were educated and taught to read on a widescale. For the first time in American history, there were Black politicians.

Radical Republicans:

Members of the republican party who had radical plans for reconstruction

Many white Southern democrats believed that reconstruction was unjust. They thought that this gave them the right to undo it however they saw fit. Many republican politicians were threatened or murdered while Southern democrats rigged elections. As the democrats gained more power, they were able to remove the rights of freedmen.

With the election of 1877, it was murky whether Rutherford Hayes or his democratic opponent won. The Southern democrats agreed to give Hayes the election if he met their conditions which he did. One of these conditions was removing federal troops from the South. If there were no federal troops, then there would be no one to protect African Americans. This is known as the Compromise of 1877 or the Great Betrayal.

Post-Reconstruction Rutherford Hayes StudySmarterFig. 2- Rutherford Hayes

Post Reconstruction South Culture

Post-reconstruction began in the late 1870s. Many white Southern democrats saw reconstruction as unjust. They believed that this gave them the right to undo it however they saw fit. Many Republican politicians were threatened or murdered while Southern democrats rigged elections. Southerners called this redemption. As they gained more power, they were able to remove the rights of freedmen. In the election of 1877, it was murky whether Rutherford Hayes or his democratic opponent won.

The Southern democrats agreed to give Hayes the election if he met their conditions which Hayes agreed to. One of these conditions was removing federal troops from the South. If there were no federal troops, then there would be no one to protect African Americans. This is known as the Compromise of 1877 or the Great Betrayal.

What were the terms of the Compromise of 1877?

The Compromise of 1877 came with terms and conditions that favored the South. First, the federal troops stationed in the South had to be removed. These troops protected African Americans and their rights, without them, racist Southerners terrorized Black people without repercussion. African Americans were stripped of their voting rights which allowed former Confederate politicians to regain their foothold in the South.

Secondly, the South wanted to build a transcontinental railroad beginning in Texas. Since the South didn't have the means to finance this large project, the federal government would have to. Lastly, Rutherford Hayes had to appoint a Southern Democrat as a member of his cabinet.

Biggest Challenges Facing Post-Reconstruction South

One of the largest issues facing post-reconstruction was a lack of infrastructure. During the Civil War, a lot of southern railroads were destroyed by Union soldiers to cut off the South's supply line. Shipping from North to South was cheaper than shipping South to North. Shipping would become easier as more railroads were built in the South.

Post- Reconstruction Industry in the South

The South relied heavily on agriculture, but Southerners realized that they needed to industrialize to continue progressing. Cities grew as factories popped up, but it would take time before the South could catch up with the North. Around 1880, the South began to specialize in the textile industry.

People in the South were more desperate for work and willing to work for less than Northerners. The Southern factories were also closer to the raw materials, like cotton, which allowed them to save money on transportation. The cotton was produced on farms worked by sharecroppers.

Sharecroppers:

People, commonly African Americans, worked on farms owned by former plantation owners. Half of their harvest went to the landowner as rent. Bankers sold them seeds, food, and tools on credit, and they had to pay that back from their harvest. This created a cycle of debt.

Post-Reconstruction Cotton Sharecrop StudSmarterFig. 3- Cotton Sharecrop

Even though an emphasis was placed on industrialization, the South remained rural. Its economy was still dependent on agriculture. Enslavement was illegal, but white Southerners found other ways to take advantage of African Americans. Laws were placed that forced them to work on the plantations of their former owners for little wages.

African Americans in the South Post-Reconstruction

African Americans were stripped of their rights on a state and federal level. The federal cases that did this were called the Slaughter-House Cases. We are going to discuss one of these cases and its outcome.

Plessy Vs Ferguson (1896)

Separate but equal.

Segregation, the act of separating people based on their race, was carried out in the South. Introducing Homer Plessy who was a one-eight Black and seven-eighths white shoemaker. By Louisiana's definition, Plessy was black. He sat in the white portion of a train car and refused to leave when he was told to. Plessy was arrested.

The Case went all the way up to the Supreme Court. The justices decided that segregation was legal as long as it was "separate but equal". Segregation was never equal. Whatever white people had access to its African American counterpart was of lesser quality. This allowed the South to pass Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation.

Post-Reconstruction Homer Plessy StudSmarterFig. 4- Homer Plessy

The Dangers of Living in the South

Many white people in the South believed that they were better than African Americans and wanted life to remain the same way it was during slavery. They formed organizations like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and terrorized the African American community. In some states, the KKK worked with democrats to prevent African Americans from voting. Since the states were not directly involved, the Supreme Court ruled that it was legal.

African Americans were not allowed to sit on juries so if they were on trial, they were judged by panels of white people. Many African Americans were falsely accused of crimes and given unfair trials where they were found guilty. White mobs would form to kidnap and murder African Americans without giving them trials. This was called lynching and it was done to re-enforce the white supremacist social hierarchy. It was very common in the South and was not considered a hate crime until 2022.

Post-Reconstruction Lynching Chart StudySmarterFig. 5- Lynchings: by Decade and Race. Source: S. Oxendine.

Post-Reconstruction South Definition

The post-reconstruction period began the South's investment in industrialization while undoing the social liberties of the reconstruction era. While white people were able to thrive, African Americans were stripped of their rights and treated as second-class citizens.

Post Reconstruction South - Key takeaways

  • Reconstruction ended in the South with the Compromise of 1877. Supporters of Reconstruction called this the Great Betrayal.
  • The industrialization period began in the South. Southerners were rural and worked in agriculture, so industrialization was more popular in the North.
  • There wasn't anyone in the Post-Reconstruction South who could protect the rights of African Americans after the Compromise of 1877. The Supreme Court passed a series of "slaughterhouse cases" that revoked the rights of Black people.
  • African Americans had to work as sharecroppers and were stuck in a cycle of debt. They didn't have the means to leave the South.
  • African Americans were unjustly murdered by white mobs who faced no repercussions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Post Reconstruction South

After reconstruction, Southern politicians set about undoing everything that had been accomplished by reconstruction. 

Social Darwinism was used as an excuse for racism in the post-reconstruction South.

White Supremacists maintained power by preventing African Americans from voting or holding office. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan murdered political rivals. 

Post-Reconstruction South ended with the Compromise of 1877. The federal troops who enforced laws that protected African Americans were removed from the South. 

African Americans lost the rights that they gained during reconstruction. They could not vote, hold office, lived in segregation, and dealt with violent attacks. 

Final Post Reconstruction South Quiz

Question

What formally ended the Reconstruction Era?

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Answer

The Compromise of 1877

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Question

Where did the name "Jim Crow" come from?

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Answer

a minstrel show character portrayed by Thomas Dartmouth Rice in blackface

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Question

What did Southern Democrats get in the Compromise of 1877?

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Answer

the removal of Southern troops

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Question

Which Amendment guarantees equal rights for all citizens, regardless of race?

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Answer

The Fourteenth Amendment

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Question

What Supreme Court case created the "separate but equal" doctrine?

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Answer

Plessy v Ferguson

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Question

What was the Louisiana Separate Car Act?

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Answer

a law that made separate railway cars for black citizens and white citizens necessary 

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Question

What Amendment guaranteed the right to vote for all men, regardless of race?

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Answer

The Fifteenth Amendment

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Question

What is a lynching?

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Answer

a form of murder in which mobs of citizens commit public executions outside of the law, often by hanging 

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Question

What was unique about Homer Plessy?

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Answer

He was only 1/8 African-American and appeared to be white. 

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Question

What did the Republicans get in the Compromise of 1877?

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Answer

Rutherford B. Hayes in the presidential office

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Question

Who were the two parties in the Compromise of 1877?

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Answer

Northern Republicans

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Question

Who were the two candidates in the presidential election of 1876?

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Answer

Democrat Samuel Tilden

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Question

Who won the popular vote in the presidential election of 1876?

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Answer

Samuel Tilden

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Question

Which candidate became president as a result of the Compromise of 1877?

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Answer

Rutherford B. Hayes

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Question

What concessions did Northern Republicans make in the Compromise of 1877?

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Answer

Removal of troops from the South

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Question

What era in United States history did the Compromise of 1877 end?

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Answer

The Reconstruction Era

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Question

In the election of 1876, what three states had a dispute in the electoral vote?

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Answer

Florida

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Question

What is the term for the discriminatory laws in the South after the Reconstruction Era ended?

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Answer

Jim Crow laws

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Question

Why was Northern interest in Southern affairs declining leading up to the Compromise of 1877?

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Answer

original Radical Republicans out of office 

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Who were the Radical Republicans?

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Answer

Republicans who were especially interested in punishing the South and protecting the rights of African Americans who lived there

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Question

When was the Louisiana Separate Car Act passed?

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Answer

1890

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Question

Which state first passed legislation requiring segregated railway cars?

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Answer

Florida

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Question

What were the two legal consequences passengers had to choose from if they disobeyed the guidelines of the Separate Car Act?

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Answer

$25 fine

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Question

What type of law was the Separate Car Act?

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Answer

a Jim Crow law

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Question

What was unique about Louisiana's history compared to other Southern states?

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Answer

It used to be French territory. 

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Question

What was the name of the civil rights group that challenged the Separate Car Act?

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Answer

New Orleans Citizens' Committee

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Question

When did the Louisiana Separate Car Act become unconstitutional?

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Answer

1954

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Question

What court case upheld the legality of the Separate Car Act?

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Answer

Plessy vs Ferguson

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Question

Who was arrested for violating the Separate Car Act?

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Answer

Homer Plessy

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Question

What doctrine allowed the segregation of the Louisiana Separate Car Act to continue? 

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Answer

"separate but equal"

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When was Plessy vs Ferguson decided?

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Answer

1896

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Question

Which law was in question in Plessy vs Ferguson?

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Answer

The Louisiana Separate Car Act

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Question

What two amendments did Plessy's lawyer claim the Separate Car Act violated?

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Answer

The Thirteenth Amendment

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Question

 What important doctrine did Plessy vs Ferguson establish?

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Answer

the "separate but equal" doctrine

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What was the ruling in Plessy vs Ferguson?

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Answer

7-1 against Plessy

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Question

Who was the dissenting judge in Plessy vs Ferguson?

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Answer

Justice John Marshall Harlan

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Question

What court case essentially overturned Plessy vs Ferguson?

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Answer

Brown vs Board of Education

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When was Plessy vs Ferguson overturned?

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Answer

1934

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Question

What was the name of the group backing Homer Plessy in Plessy vs Ferguson?

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Answer

The New Orleans Citizens' Committee

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Question

What was the argument of the dissenting opinion in Plessy vs Ferguson?

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Answer

Segregated conditions could never be truly equal, therefore segregation violated the Fourteenth Amendment. 

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Question

How long did Reconstruction last in the South?

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Answer

1861 - 1865

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Question

Who were the members of the republican party with a radical plan for reconstruction?

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Answer

Radical Republicans

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Question

Which of the following is not a condition of the Great Compromise of 1877?

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Answer

Removal of federal troops from the former Confederate states

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Question

The South lacked railroads because they were destroyed during the Civil War.

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Answer

True

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Question

____ were people, commonly African Americans, who worked on farms owned by former plantation owners. 

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Answer

Sharecroppers 

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Question

____ were cases where the Supreme Court stripped African Americans of their rights.

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Answer

Slaughterhouse cases 

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Question

Which court case was the origin of Jim Crow laws?

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Answer

Plessy Vs. Ferguson 

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Question

Why did the Supreme Court allow the KKK to prevent African Americans from voting?

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Answer

The state was not directly involved

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Question

The South was more industrial than agricultural by 1880.

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Answer

True

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Question

What did white Southerners call the process of threatening and murdering republicans?

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Answer

Redemption 

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