U.S. History 1492-1877 11: Corruption in Reconstruction
Spoiler Alert: politicians have always been corrupt. The only things that seem to change are their bags, which are no longer made of carpet. We're still wondering why that was that ever a thing.
|Social Studies||U.S. History|
Railroad promoters, business speculators, land contractors,
and stock market investors all lined up to shower elected leaders with [A man tries to catch money]
bribes, in return for a little thing called "influence."
As one black representative and former slave commented,
"I've been sold eleven times in my life. This is the first time I ever got money."
Zing. I would've voted for that guy.
The South was also filled with business minded Northerners [Two guys with luggage cross each other]
called carpetbaggers, after the cheap luggage some carried.
These guys came down, bought up a lot of cheap land, [A businessman offers money to a landowner]
and some made a lot of money.
They also become part of state governments and were often
accused of various kinds of corruption.
Taking bribes, passing laws that made them and their buds rich, and
well, you know, all the things politicians are still getting accused of doing. [Businessman gives money to the guy with bag]
Nice to see that some traditions never die.
To be fair, not all Reconstruction governments [Hands combines puzzle pieces to form a USA map]
were totally and completely awful.
They did establish some of the first public schools and [Students stand in line]
social services in the South, outside of North Carolina.
Some expanded hospitals, built asylums, and also helped
the Freedman's Bureau in assisting freed slaves.
So congrats Reconstruction governments for not being 100% useless.
Of course, things turned a new shade of awful once so-called
"Redeemers" regained power in the South by 1877. [The Redeemers appears on the screen]
They exaggerated stories of Reconstruction corruption.
In particular, they made up stories about evil, black office holders
who took advantage of their positions.
According to the Redeemers, Reconstruction was just a terrible, horrible, [A guy stands in a fire blaze]
no good, very bad day.
And this, dear Shmoopers, is how the two opposing sides of The Civil War
were reunited: with the common goal of throwing blacks under the bus.
Well, the South in particular was chomping at the bit to end Reconstruction.
Evidence that blacks actually did have the ability to succeed [ A doctor talks to a patient]
when given the chance threatened the power structure,
institutions, labor system, and society of the former Confederacy more than
black corruption or ignorance ever could have. [The color of the house in the background changes to pink]
Because clearly, it's totally okay to enslave
someone who's less smart than you.
But if someone is just as smart as you, well then that's just not right.
So the South went on to the biggest advertising campaign ever.
Historians, film makers, politicians, and writers worked hard to pin much of the
sleaziness that happened during radical Reconstruction on freed blacks. [writer writes a book]
Well here's something that's probably not shocking: it worked like a charm.
Yeah, we Americans, we love our advertising.
This skewed history gave white supremacists the excuse they needed to [White supremacists appears on the screen]
persecute, discriminate, and all-around abuse
African Americans for years to come.
Pretty soon, white supremacy was living large once again...
...like riding through the country in a Hummer limousine. [Limousine with White supremacists]
A white one, of course.