Discussion #2: Reconstructing the Nation
The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, and the original goal of the North to preserve the Union was accomplished. The task that lay before Lincoln and Congress was to reintegrate the rebellious Southern states into the Union. For many white southerners “Reconstruction was a vicious and destructive experience – a period when vindictive Northerners inflicted humiliation and revenge on a pro-state South.”
In order to prepare for this discussion forum:
- Review and identify the relevant sections of Chapters 17 and 18 that support your discussion.
- Review and identify relevant information on the linked PBS American Experience site, Reconstruction The Second Civil War
- This link will direct you to the full transcript of the Wade-Davis Bill. What does it suggest about the prevailing Reconstruction sentiments in Congress?
- Read the section in Chapter 17 which discusses the Black Codes, and the linked site on the Black Codes.
- Read the linked document, a selection from The Ills of the South, written by Charles H. Okten, a Mississippi Baptist preacher, and schoolteacher, in which he describes conditions for Black Americans under the sharecropping and crop-lien system. After you have completed your readings, post your response to ONE of the following questions:
- Were the Black Codes another form of slavery?
- Based on Okten’s statements, discuss how the sharecropping/crop lien system created a vicious cycle. Was this system simply another version of slavery? Why or why not.
- Consider the following statement: “The persistence of racism in both the North and the South lay at the heart of Reconstruction’s failure.” Agree or disagree, and explain your position.