One View of the Legacy of Reconstruction

Here’s an interesting lesson in how one’s understanding of the past shapes one’s beliefs about the present, offered on the League of the South’s Facebook discussion page.

Most racial problems in the South during the twentieth century can be traced back to the so-called Reconstruction when Federal intrusion and Northern extremes, martial law, political corruption, and the excesses of the Republican Party, the Union League, and the Freedmen’s Bureau provoked reactions and attitudes that lasted for generations. Reconstruction laws and measures virtually eliminated the White vote and made illiterates the overwhelming majority vote in the South, and this enabled Carpetbaggers, Scalawags, and other radicals to take advantage of a bad situation, use and exploit freed slaves, and win elections with unrealistic and often unconstitutional (e.g., Ex Post Facto Laws) campaign promises, such as the promise of forty acres and a mule for every freed slave. It is ironic that so many today look to the Federal government to solve or alleviate racial problems that the Federal government caused or agitated.

The Plessy VS. Ferguson Decision of 1896 enunciated the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Making racial segregation the official federal policy for over fifty years ensured that federally mandated desegregation would provoke resentment and opposition, and the federal intrusions involved aroused the collective memory and defensiveness of White Southrons in general. Instead of the US Supreme Court being looked to as savior or an infallible authority Federal Judges should be held accountable.

The attempts of social engineers to change hearts through legislation and court orders are self-defeating. Leftist programs purported to promote racial harmony and racial equality have the opposite effect: Egalitarian socialism and Ex Post Facto Laws do not alleviate racial tensions or produce racial harmony but instead foster resentment and a we-versus-they complex. If you have a group of children and you give one child a stick and the right to hit the children who don’t do what he wants, in time the other children will submit and conform to the child with the stick while resentment and animosity increases; race cards have the same effect. It is futile to keep expecting humanist ideologies to achieve racial harmony.

One hopes that this time the folks at can figure out that I’m not the author of these remarks before they go off.

4 thoughts on “One View of the Legacy of Reconstruction

  1. Bob Huddleston July 25, 2012 / 7:30 am


    He repeats the old canard that Reconstruction disenfranchised the white vote. Any sources on how many whites were denied voting rights? Obviously the votes cast in 1865 were all white voters.

    • Hunter Wallace July 25, 2012 / 3:59 pm

      (1) See the text of the 14th Amendment. See also “swallowing the dog.”

      (2) The black vote really did swamp the White vote especially in SC, MS, LA, and FL. In other words, the White vote was meaningless like it still is today in some parts of the South thanks to the Voting Rights Act.

      (3) We all know that the Radicals were not satisfied with Johnson’s plan of Reconstruction, overthrew those legislatures, and impeached Johnson for opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment.

      (4) The author is correct that Reconstruction created bitterness that lasted for generations. Just look at Kentucky which had sided with the Union.

      (5) I would quibble with the idea that Plessy was a national policy. It wasn’t. Most Northern states were integrated by the 1880s. Massachusetts passed the first comprehensive civil rights laws during Reconstruction.

      That’s “heritage” and “history.” Hope you are reading, Connie.

  2. Will Hickox July 25, 2012 / 10:21 am

    “The attempts of social engineers to change hearts through legislation and court orders are self-defeating.”

    Down with big government! Unless, of course, it uses its power to reinforce the racial and social status quo, in which case white Southerners were/are all for legislation and court orders.

    • neukomment July 25, 2012 / 3:42 pm

      …such as the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dredd Scott decision that effectively set a course to make free states into slave states…

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