The Reconstruction Period in American History
Welcome to my site on the Reconstruction Period in American History after the Civil War. This site offers report about Andrew Johnson, a report about the South being dominated by carpetbaggers, interesting facts about the Reconstruction Period, links to sites about the Reconstruction Period, and more! In the Reconstruction Period (1865-1877) the South was in need of repair. Carpetbaggers came down from the North to help the South, but most of them cheated the Southerners. This report explains about what carpetbaggers were, what they did to help rebuild the South, and why they dominated the South in the Reconstruction Period.
The South in the Reconstruction Was Dominated by Carpetbaggers
By Charlie Ginsburg
After the American Civil War ended in 1865, the South was in need of extreme repair. The South's money had little value: The Confederate dollars were worthless because the Confederate government no longer existed. Many of the farms, towns, and industries had been destroyed, partially because of Shermans march to the Sea. Roads and railroads needed to be repaired. The South was in great need of repair.
People from the North came to help rebuild the South. This time in American history was called the Reconstruction Period. During this period, Northerners repaired roads, planted crops on farms, helped rebuild buildings, and basically helped to get the South back in order.
During the Reconstruction period, the rebuilding of the South was dominated by people who helped the Southerners. These people were called carpetbaggers. Carpetbaggers were predatory Northerners and blacks, who went down to help the Southerners for a very high price during the Reconstruction Period. They were called carpetbaggers because they typically carried a carpet bag with them when they went to help the people in the South.
Most of the carpetbaggers went to the South to make a profit and not to actually help the South rebuild. They did not have good intentions. They did more harm than good for the South. They overcharged for their services when they did their jobs. They were more concerned about money than rebuilding the war-torn area. They tried to take advantage of the South's financial crisis. In addition they tried to control politics because Congress had banned temporarily former Confederate leaders from the government. In the political arena, the carpetbaggers again acted for their own profit and turned the tools of government towards the corrupt end and away from the reconstruction of the South. They were everywhere in the South; it is estimated that there were 20,000 carpetbaggers who were active in the Reconstruction Period.
Carpetbaggers did some good things for the South. A Union veteran, John T. Wilder, helped out the South. He built a hotel in Roane County, Tennessee as a retreat for sufferers of hay fever and he also started an iron company. Carpetbaggers tried to help the blacks by encouraging education and voting. The services that carpetbaggers provided to the South in the Reconstruction Period were good because they helped the South get going again. Unfortunately, while the carpetbaggers may have seemed nice doing all these things, most of them they were overcharging for their services and taking advantage of the situation.
President Johnson's Background and His Plans to Reconstruct the South
By Charlie Ginsburg
President Andrew Johnson's background, especially affected his plans to reconstruct the South. Certain events that happened in his life.
Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808. He grew up in a poor family. He was apprenticed to a tailor as a boy, but ran away. As a young adult, he opened a tailor shop in Greenville, Tennessee, married Eliza McCardle, and participated in debates at the local academy.
Johnson entered politics in 1829, and he was a skillful speaker. He overpowered the regular man and defaming the plantation nobility. As a member of the US House of Representatives and Senate during the 1840's and '50's, he advocated a homestead bill to provide free farms for the poor men.
During the secession crisis, Johnson remained in the US Senate when Tennessee seceded, which made him a hero in the North and a traitor in the eyes of most Southerners. In 1862, President Lincoln appointed him Military Governor of Tennessee, and Johnson used the state as a laboratory for reconstruction. In 1864, the Republicans, contending that their National Union Party was for all loyal men, nominated Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat, for Vice President. He won the election. With the assassination of Lincoln, the Presidency fell upon this old-fashioned southern Democrat with his pronounced states' rights views. Johnson became president on April 14, 1865. Although an honest and honorable man, Andrew Johnson was one of the most unfortunate of United States Presidents because the Radical Republicans in Congress, were against him. These Congressmen had a strong leadership and used ruthless tactics. Johnson was no match for them.
After Lincoln's death, President Johnson proceeded to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. He pardoned all those who take an oath of allegiance, but required leaders and men of wealth to obtain special Presidential pardons.
By the time Congress met in December, 1865, most southern states were reconstructed, slavery was being abolished, but "black codes" to regulate the freedmen were beginning to appear. Radical Republicans in Congress moved vigorously to change Johnson's program. They gained the support of northerners who were dismayed to see Southerners keeping many prewar leaders and imposing many prewar restrictions upon Negroes.
The Radicals' first step was to refuse to seat any Senator or Representative from the old Confederacy. Next they passed measures dealing with the former slaves. Johnson vetoed the legislation. The Radicals mustered enough votes in Congress to override his veto--the first time that Congress had overridden a President on an important bill. They passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which established Negroes as American citizens and forbade discrimination against them.
A few months later, Congress submitted to the states the Fourteenth Amendment, which specified that no state should "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." All the former Confederate States, except Tennessee refused to ratify the amendment. In addition, there were two bloody race riots in the South. Johnson faced hostile audiences while speaking. The Radical Republicans won an overwhelming victory in Congressional elections that fall.
In March 1867, the Radicals placed into effect their own plan of Reconstruction. This plan placed southern states under military rule. Further they passed restricting the actions of the president the President. When Johnson allegedly violated one of these (the Tenure of Office Act) by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment against him. He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and acquitted by one vote.
Andrew Johnson's term as president ended in 1869. In 1875, he went back to the Senate, and few months later he died at age 67.
Andrew Johnson's background greatly affected his plans to reconstruct the South. Johnson grew up and lived in the South. He was a Tennessee senator. Johnson wanted to be lenient on states in the South; this attitude was sectionalism. Andrew Johnson's life helped shape his views on the reconstruction plans.
Go to my Reconstruction Links Page.
This spreadsheet shows what I thought were 10 significant events from the Reconstruction Period (Congressional) and the dates of the events. Number 1 is the most significant event.
The term carpetbagger is still around today, today a carpetbagger is a roving politician or opportunist.
Carpetbaggers weren't the only people who tried to take advantage of the South's situation. A person from the South who was like carpetbagger was called a scalawag.
There were two periods of reconstruction. Presidential lasted from 1865 to 1877 and Congressional lasted from 1867 to 1877.
Congressional Reconstruction refers to when Congress reconstructed, and presidential reconstruction refers to when the president reconstructed the South.
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