Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Was Reconstruction a success or failure?

Reconstruction was, of course, a success. After all, if it wasn't for Reconstruction, America would be different and I would most likely not be born. At the same time, however, Reconstruction could have been improved. Indeed, it should have been improved as the consequences of the Reconstruction continue to haunt us today.

This is a hard question for me to answer honestly as my opinions differ from the majority. I believe that the South should have seceded as they wanted to originally and we should have never went to war in the first place. The North was more powerful both in the number of people as well as economically. Eventually, I believe, the South would have either re-entered the Union or, at minimum, would have been contained to a small portion of the Eastern coast of present day United States. In addition, a cultural diffusion most likely would have occurred as well. Instead of being forced to end slavery and have black "equality", citizens would have chosen to change the system slowly from a culture shift (which would have had to start in the North).

The Reconstruction had numerous negative consequences that could have been most likely solved (though it would take much longer) by the people themselves through a change in culture. Segregation tore apart the small, yet reliable, relationship between blacks and whites in the south. Within a short period of time after Reconstruction, "every southern state had enacted segregation as law...Soon a complex web of 'Jim Crow' statutes had drawn an incredible color line separating the races" (Davidson 505). I urge anyone to drive around throughout Jacksonville and you will continue to see this same line separating the races. Until we as a people, not through government but through culture, demand social change, racism and segregation will continue now just as it did during the Reconstruction. In fact, it will continue much the same just as it has since the dawn of civilization.
Does anyone know where I can look to find how many slaves were beat by their masters? I am looking for a percentage. Or can anyone recommend a book that looks HONESTLY and OBJECTIVELY at slavery so that I can learn just how bad it really was?

Davidson, James, Brian Delay, Christine Heyrman, Mark Lytle, and Michael Stoff, Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic Volume II: Since 1865. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

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