Failure of Reconstruction of African Americans


After the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments brought great hope for change in the South. For over 10 years gains were made. Reconstruction officially abolished slavery in all areas of the United States; gave citizenship to African American and federal and states laws applied equality to blacks and whites; and gave blacks the right to vote. However, as quickly as these gains had come, blacks were being surrounded by many hostile whites, thus these gains were then vanished.


The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, abolished slavery as a legal institution. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. [US Constitution Amendment 13]. During Reconstruction, the 13th amendment after it was ratified, took place with one of the most notable tasks of the establishment of schools. Over 1,000 schools were built, teacher-training institutions were created, and several black colleges were founded and some were financed with the help of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Despite the bureau’s successes, it was unable to cure all problems. Most of the schools were built in poor condition, and the schools were segregated. Their schools didn’t receive proper school supplies and their books were out of date if they had them at all. Leaving the black student with the knowledge that wasn’t up to par as the other white students their age. The Freedmen’s Bureau had inadequate funds, was unable to discontinue most poverty, and it failed to prevent the emergence of black codes. The bureau was terminated in 1872. Although in 1865, several southern states passed legislations creating black codes. Depending on the state, these code restricted blacks from owning there own property, and restricted them of where they could reside to live. The codes also establish a curfew for blacks, and forced them to work as agricultural laborers or as domestics. Luckily, the black codes were quickly eliminated when in 1866, a group of Northern congressmen, helped with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The Act gave blacks the rights and privileges of full citizenship. Even though slavery was abolished, the freed slaves still returned to their slave master for work.


In June 1866, Congress passed the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, and it was ratified in 1868. The 14th amendment initially gave all slaves United States citizenship.


Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [ US Constitution Amendment 14].


With the passage of the Amendment, Congress also provided that Southern states could not be readmitted to the Union until it ratified the 14th Amendment. All of the states except Tennessee refused to do so. But by 1868, the remaining 10 states also ratified the 14th Amendment. During reconstruction blacks were also able to participate in the political process. During the conventions held in 1867 and 1868, blacks helped write new laws and repeal black codes. Some blacks were also elected into political office. They held such positions as U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and lieutenant governors. The 14th amendment was indeed enforced to a legitimate extent, but they were out numbered. Many whites started groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and strived hard to bring African Americans down.


Meanwhile the 15th amendment of 1870, gave African Americans the right to vote. Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. [US Constitution Amendment 15]. Despite this right, some Southern states