The Opposition to Reconstruction

Reconstruction governments sparked bitter opposition among most white Southerners. There was disagreement on specific policies, but all of Reconstruction's opponents agreed that white supremacy must rule the South.

There were many reasons for white opposition to Reconstruction. For many former confederates, the new governments were constant reminders of military defeat. Their ambitious programs of economic development and school construction produced rising taxes and spiraling state debts. In some states, these programs also created corruption. Both Democrats and Republicans shared in this corruption, but it discredited Republican rule.

Many whites deeply resented the fact that the region’s former leaders were absent from positions of power. Planters disliked the tendency of local officials to side with former slaves in labor disputes.

The main reason for the growing opposition to Reconstruction, however, was the fact that most Southern whites could not accept the idea of African Americans voting and holding office. They also did not accept the equitable policies adopted by the new governments. Beginning in 1867, Southern Democrats launched a campaign of vilification against Reconstruction, employing sensational appeals to racial prejudice as well as more measured criticisms of Reconstruction policies.

Source: The Opposition to Reconstruction
Copyright 2003 Digital History

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