Little Known Facts about the Reconstruction South

By Jim Jester

The communist doctrine of “redistribution of wealth” was first practiced in America by the Freedman’s Bureau. By June 1865, nearly 10,000 black families were given their own land from former deserted plantations. Later, as the owners returned and demanded the government give them their rightful property, most blacks lost their land. When President Andrew Johnson opposed the Bureau’s unconstitutional actions, the Republicans stripped power from him — impeaching him in the House and coming within one Senate vote of removing him from office. Furthermore, the military governors over the Southern states reported to General Grant, not President Johnson.

The Republicans punished Southern leaders for their rebellion by depriving them of political rights while giving civil rights to the Black race. This was the purpose of the 14th Amendment. It overruled the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court, which had denied civil rights to the Negro. It also disqualified nearly all the trusted leaders of the South from public office, unless a two-thirds vote of each House removed this disability. This branded the Southern leaders as criminals. When the Representatives from the Southern states went to resume their position in Washington, they were told to go home.

The South was divided up into five military districts with a Union Major General over each. There was debate as to the status of the states – were they really states or just territories. It appears they were treated as conquered territory. The Johnson governments (established for the states under his procedure) of 1865 were removed and a military governor backed by national troops took their places. Altogether, there were almost 20,000 troops quartered on the South. The registering of voters and the actual voting took place under the supervision of these troops. The Reconstruction Act elevated the freed slaves to participation in the political process, while at the same time the White man was disqualified by the third section of the still un-adopted 14th Amendment. The Negroes proceeded to enroll under the Reconstruction Act. They outnumbered the Whites in South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Most of them could not even read or write, so were hardly qualified to direct the destinies of a civilized state. In comparison, Negroes at this time were only allowed to vote in six Northern states. Ohio rejected Negro suffrage by over a 50,000 majority. Lincoln had proposed to the wartime military governor of Louisiana, that the right to vote might be given to the most capable Negroes, and ones who had fought in the Union armies. No one had ever proposed the wholesale bestowal of the ballot on all Negroes, qualified or not, as this Congress had done, and at the point of a bayonet. With rigged voting like this, they were able to get the Southern states to ratify the 14th Amendment (an anti-South provision which had lacked the needed two-thirds vote of the states).

With these electors, and the Whites largely disqualified, Southern governments began to organize and function with unbelievable extravagance, fraud, and incompetency. This was the beginning of out of control corrupt government in America. They did nothing to alleviate the social ills of the South caused by the war. All they cared about was getting rich quick and building an empire. Northern historian, Clement Wood gives us these details:

They voted enormous salaries to themselves, spent money broadcast for railroads, canals, and public buildings and works, with an amount of graft that is beyond belief. One South Carolina legislature had 98 colored legislatures to 57 white ones. Less than half of the legislature were not taxpayers at all. This did not restrain their expenditure of public funds. Between 1868 and 1872, the legislature increased the state debt to $18,000,000, or 260 percent. In one year, $200,000 was expended to furnish the Capitol with plate-glass mirrors, lounges, desks, armchairs, brass spittoons, and a free bar for the use of Negro and scalawag legislators. It was the ideal time to enjoy the legislative prerogatives of office.

The carpetbaggers were well ensconced in their power in the South. Four of the 7 governors, 10 of the 14 Senators, 20 of the 35 representatives elected were carpetbaggers. The Senate of South Carolina consisted of 21 blacks to 10 whites. In Alabama, all the members of the legislature together paid less than $100 in taxes. A Negro house-painter was elevated to be Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana; a mulatto printer was Secretary of State of Mississippi. It was unusual to find a Negro office-holder who could read, write and figure. (Gleefully, with the ratifications of these governments, the 14th Amendment became part of the law of the land in 1868; also the 15th Amendment, giving the vote of the Negroes, in 1870.) With such electors, Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida went Republican in 1868. Down to 1928, no Republican ever after 1876 carried one of the 10 states under Congressional military governors; and then only on an irrelevant religious issue. The “Solid South” is the result of Congressional Reconstruction, and it has by no means ceased to be a fact.

Most astonishing of all, the Union survived without marked bloodshed, in spite of such local conditions. A law could not wipe out the superior culture and wealth of the ruling classes in the South, nor could any acceptable law for long exclude them from control. They could not win by warfare, or by orderly political methods; they found a third method, wholly outside the law, that was quite as efficacious. They began to organize into secret societies, Knights of the White Camelia, White Leagues, Rifle Clubs, Councils of Safety, Boys of ’76, and most of all the Ku Klux Klan organized in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866. These groups utilized the superstitious nature of the Negro, and played upon it to the fullest. The Negroes, for all their acceptance of the white slave-owner’s Christianity, still retained a large amount of their native religion brought over from Africa – the miscellaneous faiths lumped together usually as voodooism. In Haiti today, after a century and a quarter of dominance, this religion and Christianity are still thoroughly intermixed; it was the same in the South. The Negroes had been granted these amazing rights, liberty, civil rights, the right to vote and hold office, to attend meetings and run the politics of their state or locality. They were less inclined to believe in their good fortune, when a troop of horsemen, robed in white sheets, badged with a skull and crossbones, appeared suddenly at the meeting place, announcing that they were sent to escort the Negroes to the devil their master. Or a solitary rider, so robed, would stop at midnight at a Negro’s cabin, call for a drink of water, and pour several pailfuls down his neck into a rubber bag concealed under his disguise, remarking that he had not had a drink since he dug his way up from hell at the battleground of Shiloh. There was no enthusiasm in Negro participation in politics, when the Klan was on the ride.

The Klan’s methods grew stronger, as the menace of black domination became more of a reality…. The activities commenced with ferocious warnings to carpetbaggers and scalawags to leave the South at once…. Negroes were tortured, Negroes and white interlopers were driven away, with mutilations and even murders as one of the methods of illegal persuasion. It was a direct remedy, called forth by an emergency. Right or wrong, it worked. Many of the carpetbaggers were as panic-stricken as the Negroes. They called for more troops, and sooner or later the restive Southern whites resented this, and expressed their resentment in night and day battles, as in the street fighting in New Orleans and in the trenches outside Vicksburg.

It must not be imagined that the motive of the backers of Reconstruction was entirely vindictive or unprogressive…. But the general spirit was that the South should be punished for its crime of secession…. Only, it resulted in keeping the Negro in a permanent subordinate position even down to the present [approx. 1940], in the South. The South has long forgiven the North for its defeat of 1865, if indeed it ever cherished resentment for defeat on a fair field of battle; but there is still a bitterness engendered by the “crime of Reconstruction,” which is as costly to national harmony as it is to the continued progress of the South. (A Complete History of the United States, Clement Wood, 1941, p. 350-354)

The 14th Amendment created a new type of citizen. It gave “federal citizenship” to the blacks, as well as everyone else in the country. Indeed, it makes us all serfs. Before this Amendment, there was only State citizenship. Through the “incorporation doctrine” (as the Supreme Court called it) the amendment grants federal citizenship to people that come into the country who subjects themselves to the “jurisdiction thereof.” They do this by getting a Driver License or some other contractual agreement with a government agency; and are automatically a federal citizen, called a “U.S. citizen.” By default, it replaces the “state Citizen” (spelled with upper case “C” and sometimes called an American National or Sovereign). This was the only citizenship our founding fathers knew and were. This is why Robert E. Lee chose to defend his State instead of taking command of the U.S. army, which Lincoln offered him. This type of Citizen is practically non-existent today because of government paperwork that we are told we must fill in and sign. The result has been a loss of freedoms to Americans and a dependency on big government.

Robert E. Lee was never convicted of any crime.  After all, he was only defending his state from military invasion. The New York Herald urged the Democratic Party that if it had any hope of defeating the Republican, Ulysses S. Grant, it should nominate Robert E. Lee for president. Lee worked for peace, reconciliation, and recovery in the nation; and died in 1870.

Jefferson Davis was never prosecuted for Treason. The North held Davis in prison for well over a year while trying to set up what was to be called “the trial of the century.” The attorney general brought in an independent counsel as leading trail prosecutor, John J. Clifford, but after reviewing the case had “grave doubts” about it and that, the government could “end up having fought a successful war, only to have it declared unlawful by a Virginia jury.” President Johnson thought of an easy way out by pardoning Davis. Davis refused saying it would be an admission of guilt. He wanted the issue of secession decided by a court of law. Another year passed and the famous lawyer and author, Richard Dana of Boston was appointed to handle the case. He too, thought the case was a loser. He wrote a lengthy brief for the president, and observed that the right to secede had not been settled by civilized means but by military power and the destruction of much life and property in the South. The government should accept its dirty deeds and not expose the fruits of its carnage to the scrutiny of a peaceful court.

The United States was the only country in the world to end slavery by war. The other countries in Europe had done so peacefully. It would have cost ten times less to free the slaves by reimbursing their owners than fighting a war. In addition, it would have saved the lives of 625,000 soldiers, untold thousands of civilians, property, the Southern agrarian economy, and the hardship and expense to the families of the South of all races during the Reconstruction period. By the end of the war, 693,000 combatants lay dead. Some Southern historians estimate that 2 million Southerners died during the war: 1 million whites (out of 8 million) and probably as many as 1 million blacks (out of 4 million). In short, 12.5 percent of all Southern whites died, while 25 percent of all Southern blacks died. This was a genocidal bloodbath for both races. There is no record of how many Asians, Native-Americans, or Hispanics died.

The purpose of this information is to give a more balanced view of history instead of the lopsided view we are usually given in our educational institutions. – Jim Jester, founder of White History Month (January; April is Confederate History Month).