On the TCM (Turner Classic Movie) channel, they are featuring films that concern the civil war era and a very controversial film,
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
which was based on a very racial perspective of how events happened,
post war reconstruction era. It has some very shocking portrayals of African-Americans and glorifies a hate group that deserves no
It actually spurred me into digging a bit deeper into the period, and even though I have just started to scratch the surface, I actually lean towards
POLITICS being the main reason for so much resentment still being held.
From my understanding, it was the Republicans that were force feeding a radical
Reconstruction, one that would swiftly organized the recently
freed slaves into a major voting block and also have elected representatives as well.
At the same time, putting some strong restrictions on the whites who wanted to vote.
The first critical step … was the registration of voters according to guidelines established by Congress and interpreted by Generals Sheridan and
Charles Griffin. The Reconstruction Acts called for registering all adult males, white and black, except those who had ever sworn an oath to uphold
the Constitution of the United States and then engaged in rebellion.… Sheridan interpreted these restrictions stringently, barring from registration
not only all pre-1861 officials of state and local governments who had supported the Confederacy but also all city officeholders and even minor
functionaries such as sextons of cemeteries. In May Griffin … appointed a three-man board of registrars for each county, making his choices on the
advice of known scalawags and local Freedman's Bureau agents. In every county where practicable a freedman served as one of the three registrars.…
Final registration amounted to approximately 59,633 whites and 49,479 blacks. It is impossible to say how many whites were rejected or refused to
register (estimates vary from 7,500 to 12,000), but blacks, who constituted only about 30 percent of the state's population, were significantly
overrepresented at 45 percent of all voters.
If you look further down the page linked above you can see the results in the charts that shows African-American representation during this period.
This surprised me, but as I said earlier, am just starting to learn about the period of time.
It would be foolish to think that racism didn't exist prior to this reconstruction period, but I wonder if these political moves by the Republicans
of the era, didn't help to incite the division so soon after the war?
Another event to check out is the:
Compromise of 1877
The Compromise of 1877, also known as the Corrupt Bargain, refers to a purported informal, unwritten deal that settled the disputed 1876 U.S.
Presidential election and ended Congressional ("Radical") Reconstruction. Through it, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the White House
over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden on the understanding that Hayes would remove the federal troops that were propping up Republican state governments in
South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. Consequently, the incumbent President, Republican Ulysses S. Grant, removed the soldiers from Florida before
Hayes as his successor removed the remaining troops in South Carolina and Louisiana. As soon as the troops left, many Republicans also left (or became
Democrats) and the "Redeemer" Democrats took control.
This was basically the Republicans abandoning the southern African-Americans so soon after inciting racial hatred in the radical
I wonder how history would have been different if an honest (non political) attempt was made to try and usher in a new post war era with all men being
free? While I do believe it would have been a bumpy road, it could have been handled in a much better manner than it was.
I may be oversimplifying on some accounts, since I have just begun trying to understand this period of time, but to this day, I still see the use of
as a political tool to try and lock down voter blocks, which is disheartening, it seems that it has been a tool in their chest for a
long long time.
Will we ever learn from our past?