How did both Southern and Northern racial attitudes shape Reconstruction,? and what effect did Reconstruction have on race relations and the conditions of blacks? Did Reconstruction really address the problems of race?
Differently than you might think. The differences were more based on political parties than geography. Of course the whites in the south were opposed to reconstruction not necessarily because of race, but because of States rights. The north was more focused on domination and control of the South than race. The Republicans up until the early 1900's were very much for equal rights. The Democrats were opposed. It was President Wilson, a Northern Democrat that segregated the Fed Government work force during his administration and fired a number of blacks. Jim Crow laws did not start appearing in any force until the very late 1800's. Do the research and get the details. Yes, reconstruction under the Republicans imposed equal rights on the southern states. When the southern Democrats came back in force, they took them away. It is interesting to speculate that if reconstruction had not been “imposed” but came from within each state, the equal rights may have come about much sooner. The “black lash” from reconstruction from the north probably delayed equal rights by decades. Reconstruction did not address the race issue and it certainly did not help bridge the gap. Quite the opposite: the excesses of Reconstruction were probably the prime motivating factor behind later Jim Crow laws. In other words, if Reconstruction had followed the more moderate Lincoln/Johnson line, fewer Jim Crow laws would have passed. The Klan would not have gained its stranglehold on the population of the South.
Of course, this is all speculation, and even with the Lincoln/Johnson type reconstruction, there wouldn't have been equality for the races. Most Northern abolitionists saw African Americans from a paternalist point of view–slaves and blacks in general were considered children who needed to be protected rather than as peers or fellow citizens.
Frederick Douglass stated, “What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us… I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … your interference is doing him positive injury.”
Did Radical Reconstruction delay the justice for the freed slaves as called for by Douglass and might race relations be greatly improved today if Lincoln had lived to pursue his form of reconstruction of the South or reconstitution of the Nation?
A. A noble experiment that failed.
B. A vengeful Northern punishment of the South.
C. A weak effort that did not go far enough.
D. The best that could be expected under the circumstances.