The Goals And Failures Of The First — страница 2

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passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. But Southern Democrats in their quest to restore their rule in the South brought back slavery in all but name, by passing Black Codes as early as 1865. Both Moderate Republicans and Radical Republicans in Congress reacted. Joining together in 1866, they passed a bill to extend the life and responsibilities of the Freedmen’s Bureau to protect newly freed slaves against the various Black Codes. President Johnson vetoed the bill, but Radical and Moderate Republicans eventually were able to pass it.7 The Black Codes and President Johnson’s veto of all Reconstruction legislation that was unfavorable to the South caused Moderate and Radical Republicans to change their goals from just ending slavery to seeking political equality and voting rights

for Blacks.8 The new goals, were based on humanitarian and political considerations. Northerners had grown increasingly sympathetic to the plight of the Blacks in the South following numerous well publicized incidents in which innocent Blacks were harassed, beaten, and killed.9 The extension of suffrage to Black males was a political move by the Republicans in Congress who believed that Blacks would form the backbone of the Republican Party in the South, preventing Southern Democrats from winning elections in Southern states, and uphold the Republican majority in Congress after the Southern States rejoined the Union. As one Congressman from the North bluntly put it, “It prevents the States from going into the hands of the rebels, and giving them the President and the Congress

for the next forty years.”10 Until the 1890’s, this policy of achieving equality through granting political rights to Blacks worked moderately well. During Reconstruction, newly freed slaves voted in large numbers in the South. Of the 1,330,000 people registered to vote under Reconstruction Acts 703,000 were Black and only 627,000 were White.11 Even after 1877, when federal troops were withdrawn12, Jim Crow laws did not fully emerge in the South and Blacks continued to vote in high numbers and hold various state and federal offices. Between 1877 and 1900, a total of ten Blacks were elected to serve in the US Congress.13 This occurred because Southern Democrats forged a unlikely coalition with Black voters against White laborers14. Under this paternalistic order Southern

Democrats agreed to protect Blacks political rights in the South in return for Black votes15. But voting and election figures hide the true nature of Black political power during and after Reconstruction. Few Blacks held elective offices in relation to their percentage of the South’s population.16 And those in office usually did not wield the power, which during Reconstruction continued to reside with Moderate and Radical Republicans in Congress, whites who ran Southern state governments, and federal troops. Emancipated slaves had little to do with either fashioning Reconstruction policy or its implementation. Blacks political rights were dependent upon alliances made with groups with conflicting interests White Northern Republicans and White elites in the South.17 Though they

pursued political equality for Blacks, their goals were shaped more by self-interest than for concern for Black equality. By 1905 Blacks lost their right to vote. In Louisiana alone the number of Black voters fell from 130,334 in 1896 to 1,342 in 1904.18 The number of elected Black public officials dropped to zero. The disenfranchisement of Blacks was accomplished through good character tests, poll taxes, White primaries, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and intimidation. By 1905, whatever success politically and socially the Reconstruction had enjoyed had been wiped out.19 Following on the heels of disenfranchisement came implementation of comprehensive Jim Crow laws segregating steamboats, toilets, ticket windows and myriad of other previously non-segregated public places.

20 Two historians, C. Van Woodward and William Julius Wilson, both pin point specific events such as, recessions, class conflicts, imperialist expansion to explain the rise of Jim Crow. Wilson’s21 and Woodward’s22 analysis is lacking because the United States has undergone many recessions and many times minority groups such as Jews, Irish, and Eastern Europeans and have been blamed for taking away the jobs of the lower-class; and yet these groups have not had their votes stripped away from them and did not have an elaborate set of laws constructed to keep them segregated in society as Blacks have. The only community of people in the Untied States who have been victims of systematic, long-term, violent, White Supremacy have been Native Americans. And Native Americans, like