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Lecture 22

HIST 2110Y Lecture Notes - Lecture 22: Gilded Age, Anti-Racism, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Course Code
HIST 2110Y
Jeremy Milloy

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HIST-2110Y March 19, 2014
The Tragedy of Reconstruction
Last week we explored the dual struggles of Reconstruction:
1) Those that took place on the ground among freed blacks, planters and
merchants, poor whites, and Northerners
2) Those that took place in Washington, between President Johnson and Radical
That struggle in Washington pushed Reconstruction further than anyone had ever
imagined, including guaranteeing voting rights for black men
This week we explore radical Reconstruction, and its overthrow
Reconstruction had many achievements, including the creation of a system of
public education for whites and blacks in the South, but failed because
African Americans were never given land, economic power and stability
The federal government was unable and later unwilling to protect the political and
social rights blacks had won from violence and terrorism by Southern whites
Despite the promise of Reconstruction, white Southerners were able to re-
establish their political, social, and economic dominance and a white supremacist
society that would endure for decades – known as the Jim Crow South
"There has been houses broken open, windows smashed and doors broken down in the
dead hours of the night, men rushing in, cursing and swearing and discharging their
Pistols inside the house. Men have been knocked down and unmercifully beaten and yet
the authorities do not notice it at all. We would open a school here, but are almost afraid
to do so, not knowing that we have any protection for life or limb."
African-American citizens of Calhoun, Georgia, requesting protection (in the form of a
petition) from federal troops, 1867
"There was one thing that the white South feared more than negro dishonesty, ignorance,
and incompetency, and that was negro honesty, knowledge, and efficiency."
– W.E.B. Du Bois, 1915
"It was the most soul-sickening spectacle that Americans had ever been called upon to
behold. Every principle of the old American polity was here reversed. In place of
government by the most intelligent and virtuous part of the people for the benefit of the
governed, here was government by the most ignorant and vicious part of the population
for the benefit, the vulgar, materialistic, brutal benefit of the governing set."
– Columbia University professor John W. Burgess, 1905 (arguing that there should not
have been reconstruction because the blacks did not deserve it)
Major Topics
The Impeachment of President Johnson
The Fifteenth Amendment
The Reconstruction Governments
19th Century Terrorism: The Overthrow of Reconstruction
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HIST-2110Y March 19, 2014
Reconstruction Abandoned
The Impeachment of President Johnson
Johnson and the Radical Republicans had clashed repeatedly about the direction
of Reconstruction
Johnson’s removal of Secretary of War Stanton triggered impeachment
proceedings against him
He was the first president to suffer impeachment
Johnson was able to stay in office by one vote but would not be the Republican
nominee in 1868
That job went to Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant (union general of the Civil War)
Democrats ran a campaign based on racism
Grant won, but narrowly, the Democrats solid showing a symptom that some
Northerners were unhappy with the efforts of Reconstruction to safeguard black
Nevertheless, Congress the next year passed the FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT to
the U.S. Constitution
Democrat racism during the 1868 campaign
“This is a white man’s country, let white men rule”
The two platforms: the Democratic Platform and the Republican Platform
Both sides used dirty tactics – Democratics used racism and Republicans called
people traitors
“Waving the bloody shirt” in the 1868 election
Switching the flags
The Fifteenth Amendment
The FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT prohibits the federal government and state
government from denying the right to vote based on race
It extended suffrage to black men
It did not extend suffrage to women
Nor did it bar governments from requiring a literacy test, poll tax, or property
qualifications (certain amount) to vote, restrictions that Southern governments
would employ to bar blacks from the polls in years to come
Nevertheless, this was a radical step forward that marked America’s first real
experiment with interracial democracy
However, racism certainly remained in federal law: Western senators ensured that
Asian-born people could not become US citizens
The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, reflected the expanded power of the federal
government, which in these amendments sought to protect the rights of Americans
from abridgement by the states
Unlike the Bill of Rights, which saw the federal government as the threat to
These amendments changed the Constitution itself
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