Reconstructionof South Carolina
Reconstructionera was the period in the United States history that started in 1865when the federal government led by Abraham Lincoln set the conditionsthat were to allow the rebellious South states like South Carolina toreenter the Union. Most of the white Republicans felt like thesouthern states were supposed to pay for rebelling and succeedingfrom the union (Du Bois 781-799). The reconstruction period was thetime immediately after the civil unrest that opened the eyes of mostof the Americans. The Americans especially President Lincoln felt theneed of unity in America. It is also during this Reconstructionperiod that most of the African Americans would also take the chanceto realize the rights enjoyed by most of the whites who owned a lotof lands and plantations. The reconstruction would make the AfricanAmericans break from the bondage of slavery. The civil war was theeye opener for most of the blacks to fight for their rights tofreedom from slavery subjected by the plantation owners. The civilwar was destructive to the whites except that it gave way to thefreedom of the blacks who were under slavery (Schwalm1997).Before the reconstruction period, the African Americans were owned bythe white plantation owners. The reconstruction period was then theonly way to bring back the peace and realize the blacks` redemption(JulieSaville 1860-1870).Thispaper will describe the challenges that were experienced in therealization of the objective of reconstruction period. In additionthe paper will discuss the legislature and the amendments that wereimportant in the realization of the benefits of the reconstructionperiod to the African Americans directly and indirectly.
Thereconstruction was faced with a lot of challenges, but it had to workeven after a long period. The legislation had to be passed to ensurethe intention of unity succeeded. Burtonexplainsthat South Carolinas for example, Wade Hampton III, thought it wouldbe well for them to consider the President`s terms and reenter theUnion (Burton 31-56).At the start of the reconstruction period there was a problem Blackcodes otherwise known as the Jim Crow laws were passed. The blackcodes were meant to introduce some semi-slavery. The codes mandatedthat the work and movement of the freedmen were to be monitored. Mostof the northerners did not like the idea because it was like goingtotally opposite to the main agenda of letting the African Americansfree. The betterment of the reconstruction period was then realizedin 1866 after the election. The election was won by the radicalRepublicans who main intentions were to see the freedman`s rightupheld. One of the greatest legislature and amendments that would seethe true spirit of reconstruction was the constitution of 1868. Theconstitution gave rights to the black communities that werebeneficial to the community (Shapiro34-55).As much as the constitution and the will were rightly steered, therewere insurgents who could not let peace reign and did everything tobring back the "white supremacy". All in all thereconstruction period brought a lot of benefits to theAfrican-American fraternity directly and indirectly.
Throughthe help of the amendments thirteen, fourteen and fifteen theAfrican-Americans were given the right to vote and actively involvedin politics, being able to hold some of the offices. Benefits ofthese amendments were fruitful to the African-Americans. During theperiod of reconstruction (1865-1877) the total population of thepeople who held offices almost half were blacks. Out of the total 147people in offices half were African-Americans (Holt 1997). Thefourteenth and fifteenth amendments were the most important to thiscourse. The fourteenth amendment declared the African American forthe first time to be the citizens of the United States. It was togive them the right to hold offices. The fifteenth amendment made itpossible for the African Americans to vote. It was not going to be aneasy task because of racism especially from the racist insurgentslike Kun Klux Klan (Shapiro34-55).As much as there was opposition by some of the white plantationowners, the important fact was that the Blacks had the rights ascitizens and could hold offices and vote at the same time withoutfear of segregation. The Freedman`s Bureau had the work of ensuringthat the blacks were taken through the procedure of voting. Thefreedman`s bureau trained, registered and educated the blacks on thevoting procedure (Du Bois 781-799).
Theother benefit of the reconstruction period was the fact that throughthe amendments, blacks were given the opportunity to be able to ownproperties including lands from their previous owners and the rightto seek employment at places of will (JulieSaville 1860-1870).Du Bois reiterate that through the amendments the African-Americansobtained the right to own land and be able to cultivate the lands fortheir own personal benefits (Du Bois 781-799). The ownership of landby the blacks facilitated the white plantation owners moving toEurope and Brazil where slavery was still on its game. Most of theplantation owners felt that the blacks fighting for their rights weredue to the fact that the blacks had lost industriousness and were nolonger willing to work. The fact that the blacks were allowed to ownland gave rise to the tenancy system. The system of tenancy wouldlater cause a lot of problems with the blacks who were willing to ownlands. Tenancy brought in kind of control by most of the land owners.The tenants mostly the African-Americans were to pay for the landwithin certain periods and, also, give tokens of products. Itdemoralized most of the African Americans and most of them opted tomove away from the South Carolina. Debts were rising because of thetenancy kind of kind ownership. Against all odds joy was still in thefaces of the blacks due to the power of ownership of land and thatthey could move freely to get employment at places of their choiceand will.
Oneother important benefit of the reconstruction era was the freedom toeducation for the Africa-American community. Before thereconstruction period and before the civil war the education ofblacks and the slaves was opposed in all terms possible. Before thecivil war education for the slaves was prohibited such that anyonewho was caught offering education to the slaves were to be finedhugely. Before the reconstruction era, only 2% of the blacks in SouthCarolina were able to read and write. During and immediately afterthe reconstruction period, the number of African Americans that wereable to read and write had grown immensely by approximately 40%(Reynoldsand John Schreiner 1865-1877).Education gave the African-Americans the knowledge and skills thatwere important for their growth intellectually, socially andmentally. The Freedman Bureau ensured that the quality of theeducation offered to the blacks was of quality and adequate. Theblacks were also able to use the resources and accommodations thatthey were not allowed to use before the reconstruction period.Freedom of use of resources had come to them.
Finally,it is also important to note the benefit of reconstruction regardingthe rise in some societies and clubs. The freedom to education andthe power to vote enabled the African Americans to form groups,societies, and welfare that enabled them to share both to ensuretheir economic growth and also to ensure the uphold of their rights.Never before had the blacks been allowed to form any group or welfare(Williamson1965).President Johnson extended the strength of the Freedman`s Bureau,which ensured that the welfare opinions mattered. The Freedman bureauwas the best way that ensured the safety and the understanding therights of the blacks.
Therewere other minor indirect benefits. For example, due to the freedomto choose where to be employed, competition for employees wasrealized among the plantation owners. Due to competition for labor,the wage rose. The rise of wage could be a way of showing that theBlacks had a way of controlling their wages. The wage rise was alsocaused by the fact that Blacks were now able to own land and wouldtreat fellow African-Americans fairly. Another indirect benefit tothe African Americans was the effect of education. Due to qualityEducation offered to the Blacks, they were able to understand andcomprehend their rights that could give them the bargaining power(Shapiro34-55).Finally, the other indirect benefit, especially to the blacks, wasbased on the power to vote. The power to vote was important to theAfrican Americans because of the need to put as many of the blacks inthe power (Reynoldsand John Schreiner 1865-1877).Through the power to vote, the African Americans could debate on thecandidates that they could vote for to ensure the constitution wasupheld.
Inconclusion, the reconstruction era was a blessing to AfricanAmericans in South Carolina after the Civil War. The Civil War was,therefore, was a necessity for the African Americans to achieve theirfreedom. It is notable that as much as the reconstruction of SouthCarolina was advantageous to mainly the African Americans, it wasalso the period of devastation to the whites who viewed the blacks asslaves. The reconstruction era brought with it the rights of freedomof the blacks (Reynoldsand John Schreiner 1865-1877).TheAmendments thirteen, fourteen and fifteen of the Constitution of 1866under President Johnson gave the blacks the rights to vote, holdpublic office, use of public resources, citizenship, and ownership ofproperty. The African Americans were, therefore, able to own land,vote, participate in politics, and be educated. The insurgent groupsfought in all ways to ensure the return of the white supremacy. Theinsurgents like the Ku Klux Klan and the Red shirts would not let therights of the blacks hold (Shapiro34-55).The insurgency reached its climax in the election of 1877 when theRed Shirts insurgents intimidated the blacks to either vote for WadeHampton or not to vote at all.
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DuBois, WE Burghardt. "Reconstruction and its Benefits." TheAmerican Historical Review(1910): 781-799.
Holt,Thomas. Blackover White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina duringReconstruction.University of Illinois Press, 1979.
JulieSaville. TheWork of Reconstruction: From Slave to Wage Laborer in South Carolina1860-1870.Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Reynolds,John Schreiner. Reconstructionin South Carolina, 1865-1877.State Company, 1905.
Shapiro,H. (1964). The Ku Klux Klan During Reconstruction: The South CarolinaEpisode. Journalof Negro History,34-55.
Schwalm,Leslie Ann. Ahard fight for we: Women`s transition from slavery to freedom inSouth Carolina.University of Illinois Press, 1997.
Williamson,Joel. Afterslavery.University of North Carolina Press, 1965.