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May 23rd, Glendale, AZ. April 20th, Catonsville, MD. April 15th, Passaic, NJ. February 24th, Athens, AL. The eleven Southern states held constitutional conventions giving black men the right to vote. Until , most former Confederate or prewar Southern office holders were disqualified from voting or holding office; all but top Confederate leaders were pardoned by the Amnesty Act of It appealed to the Scalawag element.
For example, in Tennessee had disfranchised 80, ex-Confederates. In Virginia, an effort was made to disqualify for public office every man who had served in the Confederate Army even as a private, and any civilian farmer who sold food to the Confederate army. Strong measures that were called for in order to forestall a return to the defunct Confederacy increasingly seemed out of place, and the role of the United States Army and controlling politics in the state was troublesome. Increasingly, historian Mark Summers states, "the disfranchisers had to fall back on the contention that denial of the vote was meant as punishment, and a lifelong punishment at that Month by month, the unrepublican character of the regime looked more glaring.
During the Civil War, many in the North believed that fighting for the Union was a noble cause — for the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery. After the war ended, with the North victorious, the fear among Radicals was that President Johnson too quickly assumed that slavery and Confederate nationalism were dead and that the southern states could return. The Radicals sought out a candidate for President who represented their viewpoint.
In , the Republicans unanimously chose Ulysses S. Grant as their Presidential candidate. As early as , during the Civil War, Grant had appointed the Ohio military chaplain John Eaton to protect and gradually incorporate refugee slaves in west Tennessee and northern Mississippi into the Union War effort and pay them for their labor.
It was the beginning of his vision for the Freedmen's Bureau. Immediately upon Inauguration in , Grant bolstered Reconstruction by prodding Congress to readmit Virginia , Mississippi , and Texas into the Union, while ensuring their constitutions protected every citizen's voting rights.
In Grant's two terms he strengthened Washington's legal capabilities to directly intervene to protect citizenship rights even if the states ignored the problem. Congress passed three powerful Enforcement Acts in — These were criminal codes which protected the Freedmen's right to vote, to hold office, to serve on juries, and receive equal protection of laws. Most important, they authorized the federal government to intervene when states did not act. Grant's new Justice Department prosecuted thousands of Klansmen under the tough new laws.
Grant sent federal troops to nine South Carolina counties to suppress Klan violence in Grant supported passage of the Fifteenth Amendment stating that no state could deny a man the right to vote on the basis of race.
Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of giving people access to public facilities regardless of race. To counter vote fraud in the Democratic stronghold of New York City , Grant sent in tens of thousands of armed, uniformed federal marshals and other election officials to regulate the and subsequent elections.
Democrats across the North then mobilized to defend their base and attacked Grant's entire set of policies. Grant's support from Congress and the nation declined due to scandals within his administration and the political resurgence of the Democrats in the North and South.
By , most Republicans felt the war goals had been achieved, and they turned their attention to other issues such as economic policies. On April 20, , the U. Congress launched a member investigation committee on the status of the Southern Reconstruction states: Congressional members on the committee included Rep. Benjamin Butler , Sen. Zachariah Chandler , and Sen.
Subcommittee members traveled into the South to interview the people living in their respective states. Orr , and Nathan B. Forrest , a former Confederate general and alleged prominent Ku Klux Klan leader Forrest denied in his Congressional testimony being a member.
Other southerners interviewed included farmers, doctors, merchants, teachers, and clergymen. The committee heard numerous reports of white violence against blacks, while many whites denied Klan membership or knowledge of violent activities. The majority report by Republicans concluded that the government would not tolerate any Southern "conspiracy" to resist violently the Congressional Reconstruction. The committee completed its volume report in February While Grant had been able to suppress the KKK through the Enforcement Acts, other paramilitary insurgents organized, including the White League in , active in Louisiana; and the Red Shirts , with chapters active in Mississippi and the Carolinas.
They used intimidation and outright attacks to run Republicans out of office and repress voting by blacks, leading to white Democrats regaining power by the elections of the mid-to-late s. Republicans took control of all Southern state governorships and state legislatures, except for Virginia. At the beginning of , no African American in the South held political office, but within three or four years "about 15 percent of the officeholders in the South were black—a larger proportion than in About black officeholders had lived outside the South before the Civil War.
Some who had escaped from slavery to the North and had become educated returned to help the South advance in the postwar era. Others were free blacks before the war, who had achieved education and positions of leadership elsewhere. Other African-American men elected to office were already leaders in their communities, including a number of preachers. As happened in white communities, not all leadership depended upon wealth and literacy. There were few African Americans elected or appointed to national office.
African Americans voted for both white and black candidates. The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteed only that voting could not be restricted on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude. From on, campaigns and elections were surrounded by violence as white insurgents and paramilitary tried to suppress the black vote, and fraud was rampant. Many Congressional elections in the South were contested.
Even states with majority African-American population often elected only one or two African-American representatives to Congress. Freedmen were very active in forming their own churches, mostly Baptist or Methodist, and giving their ministers both moral and political leadership roles. In a process of self-segregation, practically all blacks left white churches so that few racially integrated congregations remained apart from some Catholic churches in Louisiana. They started many new black Baptist churches and soon, new black state associations.
Four main groups competed with each other across the South to form new Methodist churches composed of freedmen. The Methodist Church had split before the war due to disagreements about slavery.
Blacks in the South made up a core element of the Republican Party. Their ministers had powerful political roles that were distinctive since they did not depend on white support, in contrast to teachers, politicians, businessmen, and tenant farmers. Pearce , an AME minister in Florida: In a highly controversial action during the war, the Northern Methodists used the Army to seize control of Methodist churches in large cities, over the vehement protests of the Southern Methodists.
Historian Ralph Morrow reports:. A War Department order of November, , applicable to the Southwestern states of the Confederacy, authorized the Northern Methodists to occupy "all houses of worship belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church South in which a loyal minister, appointed by a loyal bishop of said church, does not officiate.
Across the North most evangelical denominations, especially the Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, as well as the Quakers, strongly supported Radical policies. The focus on social problems paved the way for the Social Gospel movement. Matthew Simpson , a Methodist bishop, played a leading role in mobilizing the Northern Methodists for the cause. His biographer calls him the "High Priest of the Radical Republicans.
Resolved, That no terms should be made with traitors, no compromise with rebels That we hold the National authority bound by the most solemn obligation to God and man to bring all the civil and military leaders of the rebellion to trial by due course of law, and when they are clearly convicted, to execute them. The denominations all sent missionaries, teachers and activists to the South to help the freedmen.
Only the Methodists made many converts, however. Many Americans interpreted great events in religious terms. White Baptists expressed the view that:. God had chastised them and given them a special mission — to maintain orthodoxy, strict biblicism, personal piety, and traditional race relations. Slavery, they insisted, had not been sinful. Rather, emancipation was a historical tragedy and the end of Reconstruction was a clear sign of God's favor.
God's gift of freedom. They appreciated opportunities to exercise their independence, to worship in their own way, to affirm their worth and dignity, and to proclaim the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Most of all, they could form their own churches, associations, and conventions.
These institutions offered self-help and racial uplift, and provided places where the gospel of liberation could be proclaimed. As a result, black preachers continued to insist that God would protect and help him; God would be their rock in a stormy land. Anderson argues that the freed slaves were the first Southerners "to campaign for universal, state-supported public education. Some slaves had learned to read from white playmates or colleagues before formal education was allowed by law; African Americans started "native schools" before the end of the war; Sabbath schools were another widespread means that freedmen developed to teach literacy.
The Republicans created a system of public schools, which were segregated by race everywhere except New Orleans. Generally, elementary and a few secondary schools were built in most cities, and occasionally in the countryside, but the South had few cities. The rural areas faced many difficulties opening and maintaining public schools. In the country, the public school was often a one-room affair that attracted about half the younger children.
The teachers were poorly paid, and their pay was often in arrears. They had no vision of a better future for their residents. One historian found that the schools were less effective than they might have been because "poverty, the inability of the states to collect taxes, and inefficiency and corruption in many places prevented successful operation of the schools.
After the war, northern missionaries founded numerous private academies and colleges for freedmen across the South. In addition, every state founded state colleges for freedmen, such as Alcorn State University in Mississippi. The normal schools and state colleges produced generations of teachers who were integral to the education of African-American children under the segregated system.
By the end of the century, the majority of African Americans were literate. In the late 19th century, the federal government established land grant legislation to provide funding for higher education across the United States.
Learning that blacks were excluded from land grant colleges in the South, in the federal government insisted that southern states establish black state institutions as land grant colleges to provide for black higher education, in order to continue to receive funds for their already established white schools.
Some states classified their black state colleges as land grant institutions. Former Congressman John Roy Lynch wrote, "there are very many liberal, fair-minded and influential Democrats in the State [Mississippi] who are strongly in favor of having the State provide for the liberal education of both races.
Every Southern state subsidized railroads, which modernizers believed could haul the South out of isolation and poverty. Millions of dollars in bonds and subsidies were fraudulently pocketed. Instead of building new track, however, it used the funds to speculate in bonds, reward friends with extravagant fees, and enjoy lavish trips to Europe.
There were complaints among taxpayers because taxes had historically been low, as the planter elite was not committed to public infrastructure or public education. Taxes historically had been much lower in the South than in the North, reflecting the lack of government investment by the communities. The lines were owned and directed overwhelmingly by Northerners. Railroads helped create a mechanically skilled group of craftsmen and broke the isolation of much of the region.
Passengers were few, however, and apart from hauling the cotton crop when it was harvested, there was little freight traffic. Reconstruction changed the means of taxation in the South. In the South, wealthy landowners were allowed to self-assess the value of their own land. These fraudulent assessments were almost valueless, and pre-war property tax collections were lacking due to property value misrepresentation.
State revenues came from fees and from sales taxes on slave auctions. Some revenue also came from poll taxes. These taxes were more than poor people could pay, with the designed and inevitable consequence that they did not vote. During Reconstruction, the state legislature mobilized to provide for public need more than had previous governments: The needed to increase taxes which were abnormally low.
The planters had provided privately for their own needs. There was some fraudulent spending in the postwar years; a collapse in state credit because of huge deficits, forced the states to increase property tax rates. In places, the rate went up to ten times higher—despite the poverty of the region. The planters had not invested in infrastructure and much had been destroyed during the war. In part, the new tax system was designed to force owners of large plantations with huge tracts of uncultivated land either to sell or to have it confiscated for failure to pay taxes.
The following table shows property tax rates for South Carolina and Mississippi. Note that many local town and county assessments effectively doubled the tax rates reported in the table.
These taxes were still levied upon the landowners' own sworn testimony as to the value of their land, which remained the dubious and exploitable system used by wealthy landholders in the South well into the 20th century. Called upon to pay taxes on their property, essentially for the first time, angry plantation owners revolted. The conservatives shifted their focus away from race to taxes. Lynch , a black Republican leader from Mississippi, later wrote,. The argument made by the taxpayers, however, was plausible and it may be conceded that, upon the whole, they were about right; for no doubt it would have been much easier upon the taxpayers to have increased at that time the interest-bearing debt of the State than to have increased the tax rate.
The latter course, however, had been adopted and could not then be changed unless of course they wanted to change them. While the "Scalawag" element of Republican whites supported measures for black civil rights, the conservative whites typically opposed these measures. Some supported armed attacks to suppress black power. They self-consciously defended their own actions within the framework of an Anglo-American discourse of resistance against tyrannical government, and they broadly succeeded in convincing many fellow white citizens says Steedman.
The opponents of Reconstruction formed state political parties, affiliated with the national Democratic party and often named the "Conservative party. Rable called such groups the "military arm of the Democratic Party. Historian Walter Lynwood Fleming , associated with the early 20th-century Dunning School , describes the mounting anger of Southern whites:. The Negro troops, even at their best, were everywhere considered offensive by the native whites The Negro soldier, impudent by reason of his new freedom, his new uniform, and his new gun, was more than Southern temper could tranquilly bear, and race conflicts were frequent.
Often, these white Southerners identified as the "Conservative Party" or the "Democratic and Conservative Party" in order to distinguish themselves from the national Democratic Party and to obtain support from former Whigs. These parties sent delegates to the Democratic National Convention and abandoned their separate names by or Democrats nominated some blacks for political office and tried to steal other blacks from the Republican side.
When these attempts to combine with the blacks failed, the planters joined the common farmers in simply trying to displace the Republican governments. The planters and their business allies dominated the self-styled "conservative" coalition that finally took control in the South.
They were paternalistic toward the blacks but feared they would use power to raise taxes and slow business development. Fleming described the first results of the insurgent movement as "good," and the later ones as "both good and bad. The lynchings were used for intimidation and social control, with a frequency associated with economic stresses and the settlement of sharecropper accounts at the end of the season, than for any other reason.
Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer a northern scholar in explained:. Outrages upon the former slaves in the South there were in plenty. Their sufferings were many. But white men, too, were victims of lawless violence, and in all portions of the North and the late "rebel" states. Not a political campaign passed without the exchange of bullets, the breaking of skulls with sticks and stones, the firing of rival club-houses.
Republican clubs marched the streets of Philadelphia, amid revolver shots and brickbats, to save the negroes from the "rebel" savages in Alabama The project to make voters out of black men was not so much for their social elevation as for the further punishment of the Southern white people—for the capture of offices for Radical scamps and the entrenchment of the Radical party in power for a long time to come in the South and in the country at large.
As Reconstruction continued, whites accompanied elections with increased violence in an attempt to run Republicans out of office and suppress black voting.
The victims of this violence were overwhelmingly African American, as in the Colfax Massacre of After federal suppression of the Klan in the early s, white insurgent groups tried to avoid open conflict with federal forces. In in the Battle of Liberty Place , the White League entered New Orleans with 5, members and defeated the police and militia, to occupy federal offices for three days in an attempt to overturn the disputed government of William Kellogg , but retreated before federal troops reached the city.
Their election-time tactics included violent intimidation of African-American and Republican voters prior to elections, while avoiding conflict with the U. Army or the state militias, and then withdrawing completely on election day.
Conservative reaction continued in both the north and south; the "white liners" movement to elect candidates dedicated to white supremacy reached as far as Ohio in Chase , a leading Radical during the war, concluded that:. Congress was right in not limiting, by its reconstruction acts, the right of suffrage to whites; but wrong in the exclusion from suffrage of certain classes of citizens and all unable to take its prescribed retrospective oath, and wrong also in the establishment of despotic military governments for the States and in authorizing military commissions for the trial of civilians in time of peace.
There should have been as little military government as possible; no military commissions; no classes excluded from suffrage; and no oath except one of faithful obedience and support to the Constitution and laws, and of sincere attachment to the constitutional Government of the United States.
By , President Ulysses S. Grant had alienated large numbers of leading Republicans, including many Radicals, by the corruption of his administration and his use of federal soldiers to prop up Radical state regimes in the South.
The opponents, called "Liberal Republicans" , included founders of the party who expressed dismay that the party had succumbed to corruption. They were further wearied by the continued insurgent violence of whites against blacks in the South, especially around every election cycle, which demonstrated the war was not over and changes were fragile.
Leaders included editors of some of the nation's most powerful newspapers. Charles Sumner, embittered by the corruption of the Grant administration, joined the new party, which nominated editor Horace Greeley. The badly organized Democratic party also supported Greeley. Grant made up for the defections by new gains among Union veterans and by strong support from the " Stalwart " faction of his party which depended on his patronage , and the Southern Republican parties. Grant won with The Liberal Republican party vanished and many former supporters—even former abolitionists—abandoned the cause of Reconstruction.
In the South, political—racial tensions built up inside the Republican party as they were attacked by the Democrats. In , Georgia Democrats, with support from some Republicans, expelled all 28 black Republican members from the state house, arguing blacks were eligible to vote but not to hold office. In most states, the more conservative scalawags fought for control with the more radical carpetbaggers and their black allies. Most of the Republican newspapers in the South were edited by scalawags — only 20 percent were edited by carpetbaggers.
White businessmen generally boycotted Republican papers, which survived through government patronage. In Mississippi, the conservative faction led by scalawag James Lusk Alcorn was decisively defeated by the radical faction led by carpetbagger Adelbert Ames. The party lost support steadily as many scalawags left it; few recruits were acquired. The most bitter contest took place inside the Republican Party in Arkansas, where the two sides armed their forces and confronted each other in the streets; no actual combat took place in the Brooks—Baxter War.
The carpetbagger faction led by Elisha Baxter finally prevailed when the White House intervened, but both sides were badly weakened, and the Democrats soon came to power. Meanwhile, in state after state the freedmen were demanding a bigger share of the offices and patronage, squeezing out carpetbagger allies but never commanding the numbers equivalent to their population proportion.
By the mids, "The hard realities of Southern political life had taught the lesson that black constituents needed to be represented by black officials. Finally, some of the more prosperous freedmen were joining the Democrats, as they were angered at the failure of the Republicans to help them acquire land. The South was "sparsely settled"; only ten percent of Louisiana was cultivated, and ninety percent of Mississippi bottomland were undeveloped in areas away from the riverfronts, but freedmen often did not have the stake to get started.
They hoped government would help them acquire land which they would work. Only South Carolina created any land redistribution, establishing a land commission and resettling about 14, freedmen families and some poor whites on land purchased by the state. Although historians such as W. Du Bois celebrated a cross-racial coalition of poor whites and blacks, such coalitions rarely formed in these years.
Writing in , former Congressman Lynch, recalling his experience as a black leader in Mississippi, explained that,. While the colored men did not look with favor upon a political alliance with the poor whites, it must be admitted that, with very few exceptions, that class of whites did not seek, and did not seem to desire such an alliance. Lynch reported that poor whites resented the job competition from freedmen. Furthermore, the poor whites.
As a rule, therefore, the whites that came into the leadership of the Republican party between and were representatives of the most substantial families of the land. By , the Democratic—Conservative leadership across the South decided it had to end its opposition to Reconstruction and black suffrage to survive and move on to new issues. The Grant administration had proven by its crackdown on the Ku Klux Klan that it would use as much federal power as necessary to suppress open anti-black violence.
Democrats in the North concurred with these Southern Democrats. They wanted to fight the Republican Party on economic grounds rather than race. The New Departure offered the chance for a clean slate without having to re-fight the Civil War every election.
Furthermore, many wealthy Southern landowners thought they could control part of the newly enfranchised black electorate to their own advantage. Not all Democrats agreed; an insurgent element continued to resist Reconstruction no matter what. Eventually, a group called "Redeemers" took control of the party in the Southern states.
Railroad building was seen as a panacea since northern capital was needed. The new tactics were a success in Virginia where William Mahone built a winning coalition. Across the South, some Democrats switched from the race issue to taxes and corruption, charging that Republican governments were corrupt and inefficient. But major planters, who had never paid taxes before, often recovered their property even after confiscation. Holden became the first governor in American history to be impeached and removed from office.
Republican political disputes in Georgia split the party and enabled the Redeemers to take over. In the North, a live-and-let-live attitude made elections more like a sporting contest. But in the Deep South, many white citizens had not reconciled with the defeat of the war or the granting of citizenship to freedmen. As an Alabama scalawag explained, "Our contest here is for life, for the right to earn our bread The Panic of a depression hit the Southern economy hard and disillusioned many Republicans who had gambled that railroads would pull the South out of its poverty.
The price of cotton fell by half; many small landowners, local merchants and cotton factors wholesalers went bankrupt. Sharecropping for black and white farmers became more common as a way to spread the risk of owning land. The old abolitionist element in the North was aging away, or had lost interest, and was not replenished. Many carpetbaggers returned to the North or joined the Redeemers. Blacks had an increased voice in the Republican Party, but across the South it was divided by internal bickering and was rapidly losing its cohesion.
Many local black leaders started emphasizing individual economic progress in cooperation with white elites, rather than racial political progress in opposition to them, a conservative attitude that foreshadowed Booker T. Nationally, President Grant was blamed for the depression; the Republican Party lost 96 seats in all parts of the country in the elections.
Tilden president in President Grant was not running for re-election and seemed to be losing interest in the South. States fell to the Redeemers, with only four in Republican hands in , Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina; Arkansas then fell after the violent Brooks—Baxter War in ripped apart the Republican party there.
In the lower South, violence increased as new insurgent groups arose, including the Red Shirts in Mississippi and the Carolinas, and the White League in Louisiana. The disputed election in Louisiana in found both Republican and Democratic candidates holding inaugural balls while returns were reviewed.
Both certified their own slates for local parish offices in many places, causing local tensions to rise. Finally, Federal support helped certify the Republican as governor. Slates for local offices were certified by each candidate. In rural Grant Parish in Red River Valley , freedmen fearing a Democratic attempt to take over the parish government reinforced defenses at the small Colfax courthouse in late March. White militias gathered from the area a few miles outside the settlement.
Rumors and fears abounded on both sides. William Ward, an African-American Union veteran and militia captain, mustered his company in Colfax and went to the courthouse. On Easter Sunday, April 13, , the whites attacked the defenders at the courthouse.
There was confusion about who shot one of the white leaders after an offer by the defenders to surrender. It was a catalyst to mayhem. In the end, three whites died and — blacks were killed, some 50 that evening while being held as prisoners. The disproportionate numbers of black to white fatalities and documentation of brutalized bodies are why contemporary historians call it the Colfax Massacre rather than the Colfax Riot, as it was known locally.
This marked the beginning of heightened insurgency and attacks on Republican officeholders and freedmen in Louisiana and other Deep South states. In Louisiana, Judge T. Crawford and District Attorney P. Harris of the 12th Judicial District were shot off their horses and killed from ambush October 8, , while going to court. One widow wrote to the Department of Justice that her husband was killed because he was a Union man and " Political violence was endemic in Louisiana. In the white militias coalesced into paramilitary organizations such as the White League , first in parishes of the Red River Valley.
The new organization operated openly and had political goals: White League chapters soon rose in many rural parishes, receiving financing for advanced weaponry from wealthy men. In the Coushatta Massacre in , the White League assassinated six white Republican officeholders and five to twenty black witnesses outside Coushatta , Red River Parish.
Four of the white men were related to the Republican representative of the parish, who was married to a local woman; three were native to the region. Later in the White League mounted a serious attempt to unseat the Republican governor of Louisiana, in a dispute that had simmered since the election. It brought troops to New Orleans to engage and overwhelm forces of the Metropolitan Police and state militia to turn Republican Governor William P.
Kellogg out of office and seat John McEnery. The White League took over and held the state house and city hall, but they retreated before the arrival of reinforcing Federal troops.
Kellogg had asked for reinforcements before, and Grant finally responded, sending additional troops to try to quell violence throughout plantation areas of the Red River Valley, although 2, troops were already in the state. Similarly, the Red Shirts , another paramilitary group, arose in in Mississippi and the Carolinas.
Like the White League and White Liner rifle clubs, to which 20, men belonged in North Carolina alone, these groups operated as a "military arm of the Democratic Party", to restore white supremacy. Democrats and many northern Republicans agreed that Confederate nationalism and slavery were dead—the war goals were achieved—and further federal military interference was an undemocratic violation of historic Republican values. The victory of Rutherford Hayes in the hotly contested Ohio gubernatorial election of indicated his "let alone" policy toward the South would become Republican policy, as happened when he won the Republican nomination for president.
An explosion of violence accompanied the campaign for the Mississippi's election , in which Red Shirts and Democratic rifle clubs, operating in the open, threatened or shot enough Republicans to decide the election for the Democrats.
Hundreds of black men were killed. Republican Governor Adelbert Ames asked Grant for federal troops to fight back; Grant initially refused, saying public opinion was "tired out" of the perpetual troubles in the South.
Ames fled the state as the Democrats took over Mississippi. The campaigns and elections of were marked by additional murders and attacks on Republicans in Louisiana, North and South Carolina, and Florida. In South Carolina the campaign season of was marked by murderous outbreaks and fraud against freedmen. Red Shirts paraded with arms behind Democratic candidates; they killed blacks in the Hamburg and Ellenton SC massacres; and one historian estimated blacks were killed in the weeks before the election across South Carolina.
Red Shirts prevented almost all black voting in two majority-black counties. Reconstruction continued in South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida until The elections of were accompanied by heightened violence across the Deep South.
A combination of ballot stuffing and intimidating blacks suppressed their vote even in majority black counties.
The White League was active in Louisiana. After Republican Rutherford Hayes won the disputed presidential election , the national Compromise of was reached.
The white Democrats in the South agreed to accept Hayes' victory if he withdrew the last Federal troops. By this point, the North was weary of insurgency. White Democrats controlled most of the Southern legislatures and armed militias controlled small towns and rural areas. Blacks considered Reconstruction a failure because the Federal government withdrew from enforcing their ability to exercise their rights as citizens. On January 29, President Grant signed the Electoral Commission Act , which set up a member commission of 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats to settle the disputed election.
The Electoral Commission awarded Rutherford B. Hayes the electoral votes he needed; Congress certified he had won by one electoral vote. The Democrats had little leverage—they could delay Hayes' election, but they could not put their man Tilden in the White House.
However, they agreed not to block Hayes' inauguration based on a "back room" deal. Key to this deal was the understanding that federal troops would no longer interfere in southern politics despite substantial election-associated violence against blacks. The Southern states indicated that they would protect the lives of African Americans although this obviously turned out to be far from reliable.
Hayes' friends also let it be known that he would promote Federal aid for internal improvements , including help for a railroad in Texas this never happened and name a Southerner to his cabinet this did happen. With the end to the political role of Northern troops, the President had no method to enforce Reconstruction, thus this "back room" deal signaled the end of American Reconstruction.
After assuming office on March 4, , President Hayes removed troops from the capitals of the remaining Reconstruction states, Louisiana and South Carolina, allowing the Redeemers to have full control of these states. President Grant had already removed troops from Florida, before Hayes was inaugurated, and troops from the other Reconstruction states had long since been withdrawn. Hayes appointed David M. By , thousands of African-American " Exodusters " packed up and headed to new opportunities in Kansas.
The Democrats gained control of the Senate, and had complete control of Congress, having taken over the House in Hayes vetoed bills from the Democrats that outlawed the Republican Enforcement Acts; however, with the military underfunded, Hayes could not adequately enforce these laws. Blacks remained involved in Southern politics, particularly in Virginia, which was run by the biracial Readjuster Party.
Numerous blacks were elected to local office through the s, and in the s in some states, biracial coalitions of Populists and Republicans briefly held control of state legislatures. In the last decade of the 19th century, southern states elected five black U.
Congressmen before disfranchising constitutions were passed throughout the former Confederacy. The interpretation of Reconstruction has been a topic of controversy.
Nearly all historians hold that Reconstruction ended in failure but for very different reasons. The first generation of Northern historians believed that the former Confederates were traitors and Johnson was their ally who threatened to undo the Union's constitutional achievements. By the s, however, Northern historians argued that Johnson and his allies were not traitors but had blundered badly in rejecting the 14th Amendment and setting the stage for Radical Reconstruction.
The black leader Booker T. Washington , who grew up in West Virginia during Reconstruction, concluded later that, "the Reconstruction experiment in racial democracy failed because it began at the wrong end, emphasizing political means and civil rights acts rather than economic means and self-determination.
Dunning analyzed Reconstruction as a failure after for different reasons. They claimed that Congress took freedoms and rights from qualified whites and gave them to unqualified blacks who were being duped by corrupt "carpetbaggers and scalawags. Harry Williams who was a sharp critic of the Dunning school notes, the Dunningites portrayed the era in stark terms:. Reconstruction was a battle between two extremes: These historians wrote literally in terms of white and black.
In the s, historical revisionism became popular among scholars. As disciples of Charles A. Beard , revisionists focused on economics, downplaying politics and constitutional issues. The central figure was a young scholar at the University Wisconsin, Howard K. Beale , who in his PhD dissertation, finished in , developed a complex new interpretation of Reconstruction.
The Dunning School portrayed Freedmen as mere pawns in the hands of the Carpetbaggers. Beale argued that the Carpetbaggers themselves were pawns in the hands of northern industrialists, who were the real villains of Reconstruction. These industrialists had taken control of the nation during the Civil War, and set up high tariffs to protect their profits, as well as a lucrative national banking system and a railroad network fueled by government subsidies and secret payoffs.
The return to power of the southern whites would seriously threaten all their gains, and so the ex-Confederates had to be kept out of power. The tool used by the industrialists was the combination of the Northern Republican Party and sufficient Southern support using Carpetbaggers and black voters.
The rhetoric of civil rights for blacks, and the dream of equality, was rhetoric designed to fool idealistic voters. Beale called it "claptrap," arguing, "Constitutional discussions of the rights of the negro, the status of Southern states, the legal position of ex-rebels, and the powers of Congress and the president determined nothing. They were pure sham.
President Andrew Johnson had tried, and failed, to stop the juggernaut of the industrialists. The Dunning school had praised Johnson for upholding the rights of the white men in the South and endorsing white supremacy. Beale was not a racist, and indeed was one of the most vigorous historians working for black civil rights in the s and s. In his view, Johnson was not a hero for his racism, but rather for his forlorn battle against the industrialists.
Beard and Mary Beard had already published The Rise of American Civilization three years before Beale, and had given very wide publicity to a similar theme. The Beard-Beale interpretation of Reconstruction became known as "revisionism," and replaced the Dunning school for most historians, until the s. The Beardian interpretation of the causes of the Civil War downplayed slavery, abolitionism, and issues of morality.
It ignored constitutional issues of states rights and even ignored American nationalism as the force that finally led to victory in the war. Indeed, the ferocious combat itself was passed over as merely an ephemeral event. Much more important was the calculus of class conflict, as the Beards explained in The Rise of American Civilization , the Civil War was really a:.
The Beards were especially interested in the Reconstruction era, as the industrialists of the Northeast and the farmers of the West cashed in on their great victory over the southern aristocracy. Historian Richard Hofstadter paraphrases the Beards as arguing that in victory:.
Solicitude for the Freedman had little to do with northern policies. The Fourteenth Amendment, which gave the Negro his citizenship, Beard found significant primarily as a result of a conspiracy of a few legislative draftsman friendly to corporations to use the supposed elevation of the blacks as a cover for a fundamental law giving strong the protection to business corporations against regulation by state government.
Wisconsin historian William Hesseltine added the point that the Northeastern businessmen wanted to control the Southern economy directly, which they did through ownership of the railroads. Sharkey, Irwin Unger, and Stanley Coben.
Some wanted high tariffs and some low. Some wanted Greenbacks and others wanted gold. There was no conspiracy to use Reconstruction to impose any such unified economic policy on the nation. Northern businessmen were widely divergent on monetary or tariff policy, and seldom paid attention to Reconstruction issues. Furthermore, the rhetoric on behalf of the rights of the Freedman was not claptrap but deeply held and very serious political philosophy.
The black scholar W. Du Bois , in his Black Reconstruction in America, — , published in , compared results across the states to show achievements by the Reconstruction legislatures and to refute claims about wholesale African-American control of governments.
He showed black contributions, as in the establishment of universal public education, charitable and social institutions and universal suffrage as important results, and he noted their collaboration with whites.
He also pointed out that whites benefited most by the financial deals made, and he put excesses in the perspective of the war's aftermath. He noted that despite complaints, several states kept their Reconstruction constitutions for nearly a quarter of a century.
Despite receiving favorable reviews, his work was largely ignored by white historians of his time. Influenced by the Civil Rights Movement , they rejected the Dunning school and found a great deal to praise in Radical Reconstruction. Foner, the primary advocate of this view, argued that it was never truly completed, and that a "Second Reconstruction" was needed in the late 20th century to complete the goal of full equality for African Americans. The neo-abolitionists followed the revisionists in minimizing the corruption and waste created by Republican state governments, saying it was no worse than Boss Tweed 's ring in New York City.
Instead, they emphasized that suppression of the rights of African Americans was a worse scandal and a grave corruption of America's republican ideals. They argued that the tragedy of Reconstruction was not that it failed because blacks were incapable of governing, especially as they did not dominate any state government, but that it failed because whites raised an insurgent movement to restore white supremacy.
White elite-dominated state legislatures passed disfranchising constitutions from to that effectively barred most blacks and many poor whites from voting. This disfranchisement affected millions of people for decades into the 20th century, and closed African Americans and poor whites out of the political process in the South.
Re-establishment of white supremacy meant that within a decade African Americans were excluded from virtually all local, state, and federal governance in all states of the South. Lack of representation meant that they were treated as second-class citizens, with schools and services consistently underfunded in segregated societies, no representation on juries or in law enforcement , and bias in other legislation.
It was not until the Civil Rights Movement and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of and the Voting Rights Act of that segregation was outlawed and suffrage restored, under what is sometimes [ when? In Eric Foner concluded that from the black point of view, "Reconstruction must be judged a failure.
Waite Supreme Court decisions that dismantled previous congressional civil rights legislation; and the economic reestablishment of conservative white planters in the South by Historian William McFeely explained that although the constitutional amendments and civil rights legislation on their own merit were remarkable achievements, no permanent government agency whose specific purpose was civil rights enforcement had been created. More recent work by Nina Silber, David W.
Blum, has encouraged greater attention to race, religion, and issues of gender while at the same time pushing the end of Reconstruction to the end of the 19th century, while monographs by Charles Reagan Wilson, Gaines Foster, W. While is the usual date given for the end of Reconstruction, some historians [ who? Economists and economic historians have different interpretations of the economic impact of race on the postwar Southern economy.
In , Robert Whaples took a random survey of members of the Economic History Association , who studied American history in all time periods. He asked whether they wholly or partly accepted, or rejected, 40 propositions in the scholarly literature about American economic history.
The greatest difference between economics PhDs and history PhDs came with questions on competition and race. Whaples says this highlights, "A recurring difference dividing historians and economists. The economists have more faith in the power of the competitive market. For example, they see the competitive market as protecting disfranchised blacks and are less likely to accept the idea that there was exploitation by merchant monopolists.
Reconstruction is widely considered a failure, though the reason for this is a matter of controversy. DuBois captured that failure well when he wrote in Black Reconstruction in America Shaffer maintained that the gains during Reconstruction for African Americans were not entirely extinguished. The legalization of African-American marriages and families and the independence of black churches from white denominations were a source of strength during the Jim Crow era. Reconstruction was never forgotten within the black community and it remained a source of inspiration.
The system of sharecropping granted blacks a considerable amount of freedom as compared to slavery. However, in historian Mark Summers argues that the "failure" question should be looked at from the viewpoint of the war goals; in that case, he argues:. If we see Reconstruction's purpose as making sure that the main goals of the war would be fulfilled, of a Union held together forever, of a North and South able to work together, of slavery extirpated, and sectional rivalries confined, of the permanent banishment of the fear of vaunting appeals to state sovereignty, backed by armed force, then Reconstruction looks like what in that respect it was, a lasting and unappreciated success.
The journalist Joel Chandler Harris , writing as "Joe Harris" for the Atlanta Constitution mostly after Reconstruction , tried to advance racial and sectional reconciliation in the late 19th century. Harris wrote many editorials encouraging southern acceptance of the changed conditions and some Northern influence, although he also asserted his belief that it should proceed under white supremacy.
Of much more lasting impact was the story "Gone with the Wind" in the form of a best-selling novel Gone with the Wind , winner of the Pulitzer Prize for its author Margaret Mitchell , and an award-winning Hollywood blockbuster, Gone with the Wind In each case the second half focuses on Reconstruction in Atlanta.
The book sold millions of copies nationwide; the film is regularly rebroadcast on television. In it remains at the top of List of highest-grossing films adjusted for inflation. The New Georgia Encyclopedia argues:. Only Georgia has a separate article about its experiences under Reconstruction. The other state names below link to a specific section in the state history article about the Reconstruction era.
For much more detail see Reconstruction: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the history of the Southern United States from until For other uses, see Reconstruction disambiguation. By country or region. Wade—Davis Bill and Ten percent plan. Presidency of Andrew Johnson. Black Codes United States. Presidency of Ulysses S. United States presidential election, Electoral Commission United States and Compromise of Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory Reconstruction in the Cane Fields: America's unfinished revolution, — p reprinted in Francis G.
Interpretations of American History Vol. I Through Reconstruction 7th ed. America's Unfinished Revolution, — p xxv. A Concise History of the United States. Baker, What Reconstruction Meant: Historical Memory in the American South The Last Battle of the Civil War , p. Trelease, "Republican Reconstruction in North Carolina: Paskoff, "Measures of War: Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution.
Hesseltine, A History of the South, — , pp. Goldin, and Frank D. Lewis, "The economic cost of the American Civil War: Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: To 'Joy My Freedom: Archived from the original on December 13, Direct costs for the Confederacy are based on the value of the dollar in Harris, With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union The struggle for black enfranchisement.
University of Chicago Press. Encyclopedia of African American History. Sharkey, August quoted in Franklin , p. Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, — , pp. The emergence of an independent women's movement in America Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama , p. Archived from the original on March 17, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 14, No. The End of Slavery in America , p. The Making of the American South: Gendered Strife and Confusion:
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