Only much later do historians, as they do today, see Reconstruction as a time of considerable success, as well as some failure. Success in the creation of this black community. Success in rewriting the Constitution to establish this basic principle of equality among all Americans, which today we all, I think, believe in. Reconstruction lays the groundwork for the modern civil rights era. It lays the groundwork for a vision of America as a society of equality, not of white supremacy. But it took a long, long time, a century after Reconstruction, for those things again to be implemented in the law and policy.
The enormous cost of the Confederate war effort took a high toll on the South's economic infrastructure. The direct costs to the Confederacy in human capital , government expenditures, and physical destruction from the war totaled $ billion. By 1865, the Confederate dollar was worthless due to high inflation, and people in the South had to resort to bartering services for goods, or else use scarce Union dollars. With the emancipation of the southern slaves, the entire economy of the South had to be rebuilt. Having lost their enormous investment in slaves, white planters had minimal capital to pay freedmen workers to bring in crops. As a result, a system of sharecropping was developed where landowners broke up large plantations and rented small lots to the freedmen and their families. The South was transformed from an elite minority of landed gentry slaveholders into a tenant farming agriculture system.
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