The Military Reconstruction Act refers to a series of Acts that were passed by the Congress between 1866 and 1867 containing a set of conditions that were required of former Confederate States in the south to be admitted back into the union after the civil war (American Historama, 2017). The Acts led to the division of these states into 5 military districts, each being required to draft a new constitution that would be subject to approval by the Congress. Finally, each of these states were required to adopt the 14th Amendment that recognized anyone born in the US as a citizen. However, the Reconstruction Act not only had positive outcomes, but it also led to undesirable eventualities.
First of all, it can be seen that the reconstruction created states that showed allegiance towards the union. This was important as a way of rebuilding a nation that had just come out of a civil war, leading to the United States that we have to date. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments abolished slavery, freed and protected the rights of African Americans who had been enslaved, and also granted every citizen equal voting rights. For instance, they were allowed to marry a person of their choice, own property, or even sue in court. This action empowered them to extents that a significant number of the African Americans viewed for elective posts and won (US History, 2017). Public schools for mixed races were opened, allowing for integration between the whites and the people of color.
According to US History (2017), freeing the African Americans meant that the poor white men had more people competing for the small jobs and land. The large plantations took a hit due to the shortage of labor that they were accustomed to, thus affecting agricultural production. However, due to the poverty and harsh conditions, some of the former plantation workers returned to work after which they would get a share of the harvest. There was a significant rise in taxes paid, in an economy that had stagnated in terms of growth, with high levels of corruption. Finally, there was also the emergence of supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Knights of The White Camelia, and the White Brotherhood, which used violence and arson to intimidate the freed African Americans, in a bid to ensure white supremacy.
- American Historama. (2017). Reconstruction Acts passed by Congress. Retrieved from http://www.american-historama.org/1866-1881-reconstruction-era/reconstruction-acts-1867.htm
- US History. (2017). Rebuilding the old order. Retrieved from http://www.ushistory.org/us/35d.asp