WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Reconstruction oppressed, humiliated the South

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Guess who said, “We must revolutionize their institutions, habits and manners”?

Hint: This person advocated suspension of civil rights and the use of troops to supervise elections to accomplish these goals.

If you guessed Caiaphas, Marx, Stalin or David Duke, you guessed wrong.

The quote is by Thaddeus Stevens, the firebrand abolitionist whose hatred of the South was unequaled in the Republican Congress of 1865. He led impeachment procedures against President Johnson and with the election of Grant, divided the South into 10 military districts, unleashing military troops to “reconstruct their institutions, habits and manners.”

Given the brutality with which federal troops “reconstructed” Native Americans, one can only imagine the atrocities committed in “reconstructing” the South.

The aftermath of the Civil War left a humanitarian disaster of biblical proportions. The loss of population alone was staggering, accounting for more than 20 percent of white men between ages 20 and 24. In economic ruin, the South would endure the humiliation of 12 years of military occupation.

This was not a battle for white supremacy; this was a battle to survive Sewell’s hegemony and the tyranny of the majority.

From this perspective, if we could relive history instead of rewriting it, would we pray “Rescue us from becoming the evil that happened to us”?

Joe Exum

Snow Hill

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