Date of Award
After the American Civil War ended in 1865, the United States entered an era known as Reconstruction, which lasted until 1877. In this postwar period the federal government faced pressure to reincorporate the former Confederate States back into the Union. In addition, Southern political, economic, and social systems needed to be transformed in the wake of emancipation and the country grappled with the question of political rights for newly freed people. Throughout the era, the Republican Party favored policies that secured the rights of black Southerners while facing opposition from many Southern white Democrats. This opposition often manifested in unchecked political violence from Democrats as they fought to maintain white supremacy, overthrow Republican governments, and end the Reconstruction process. In particular, Mississippi, a state famous for its organized terror known as the “Mississippi Plan” and Georgia, a state where residents took a more subtle approach to the disenfranchisement of black men were states whose reconstruction plans ultimately resulted in violence. As the era wore on, the nation grew tired of the failing process and in the late 1870s the Democrats regained control of the South, effectively ending Reconstruction.
Klaybor, MaryKatherine, "“The policy of intimidation had been so successfully managed that many colored men kept away from the polls”: Violence in the Reconstruction Era South" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 543.