Reconstruction – A Success or Failure

Throughout her life, America has undergone several political changes. Many leaders have ruled this nation, each of them having different plans and objectives about the future of America. Of importance to note is that, most policies of these leaders have ended unnoticed.  However, Reconstruction is a movement that had a grand impact on the Americans. This movement marked a time when America had many leaders with different goals and accomplishments. Though it happened, the results have been seen as both a failure and a success (Herron 2008).

Reconstruction started in 1865, after the end of the Civil War. It marked a time when America was gathering broken pieces of the Civil War. This time saw America trying to be a full running-nation after the war. During this time, the south was weak politically and economically. The southerners were struggling looking for a way of becoming strong. There were large numbers of slaves who had just been released after the 13th amendment in 1865 (Casper 1997). This posed a great challenge to many leaders. Each of them came up with his own plan of reconstruction. One of such leader was President Abraham Lincoln who came up with the plan of emancipating slaves. However, he was assassinated before the plan rolled out. After his death, the Republican Party radicals came up with their own objective to facilitate reconstruction. Their first objective was to punish and make the people of the south pay as they saw them as the main reason for the rise of the Civil War. Their second objective was to help the over four million slaves who were freed after the war. It was their job to offer these slaves protection (Herron 2008).

President Andrew Johnson was one of the radical republic leaders who aimed at giving economic opportunity to the released slaves. He wanted to give them a chance to earn a living so that they do not rely on the white man. Another republican leader who had the same goal was Charles Sumner, who was a senator fight for the political rights of the African-American. He also fought for their citizenship. He was advocating for equality among the black and white men. President Johnson wanted to implement the reconstruction plan of Lincoln. However, most of the radicals were not of this opinion, as it was not paying attention to the rights of slaves. This is what saw him stripped authority in 1868 (Casper 1997).

At this point, the congress stepped up and came up with their plan of Reconstruction. An act was passed that saw troops move to the south to offer protection. This act also saw nations allowed to join the union as long as they altered the 14th amendment. The law treated all men in the United States equally. In 1870, this law allowed the black men to vote. In 1876 presidential election, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner, something that the democrats readily accepted. What followed was the military occupation of the south being pulled out. This allowed the southerners to set up their own rules and black codes (Douglass 1996). This is what marked the end of Reconstruction with laws being put in place. Some people felt Reconstruction worked while others felt there was still more to be done. Personally, I feel that even though, it did not succeed; it put America in the right direction towards success. The laws set were protecting the former slaves. The African-American rights were being protected. They were recognized as citizens and given the right to vote (Herron 2008).


Casper, C. (1997). The reconstruction. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Douglass, F. (1996). Reconstruction. Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Library.

Herron, M. (2008). Reconstruction. New York: Soho Constable.