This Week in Reconstruction, May 16-21, 1870

This week in Reconstruction infrastructure, suffrage and another potential phases of Reconstruction are the focus. In Virginia, infrastructure improvements include railway and steamship projects. Southern railroads are using government capital to expand, as demonstrated by the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. However, many railway companies are unable to repay these government loans, causing railroad expansion to be cost prohibitive and thus stunt the advancement of commerce by diminishing transportation and trade opportunities. States versus national rights are also an issue in the controlling of infrastructure operations. This was evident in Wyoming when a judge interfered with the operations of the Union Pacific railway prompting President Grant's and the Attorney General's intervention. New domestic and international lines have impacted Virginia's transportation and have been advanced through the introduction of government financial subsidies that encourage and make profitable consistent and expansive operations. The suffrage of blacks, registration, and voting events also take a prominent role in the news this week. The introduction of bills enforcing the 15th Amendment are being debated, as Radicals argue in favor of such to prevent discriminations while Conservatives claim these bills enable voter fraud and are unnecessary due to their preexistence in the national Constitution. Additionally, racial tensions are evident in the news. Conservatives desire to maintain a "white" racial majority at the polls, evidenced through their primarily white voter base and nomination of white officials. Consequently, the Conservatives target the Radicals who have a large "negro" voter base and are open to black officials. Violence results throughout the region, as was the case for the riots in Jefferson Ward where a police officer and a "negro" man were injured. An additional phase of Reconstruction in the South was also discussed. The North believes the South still undermines measures promoting racial equality, but the South contests such claims and rejects any motion for further forceful reconstructive measures.

Contributed By

Bryce Smith