South After the Civil War

Our country was growing–growing fast. In spite of the war, where so many were killed, the census of 1870 showed that there were about thirty–nine million inhabitants in our country, and that wealth had increased as fast as the people. Railways and steamboats greatly helped commerce, and since the weather signal service was established, in the year 1870, fewer vessels have been lost at sea.

Still, while the East and West were prospering, the South had a very hard time to get on, for in some states the colored voters outnumbered the white. Schools had been started, but it would be some time before children attending them would be old enough to vote, and in the meantime ignorant Negro voters and carpetbaggers were in control.

Bad and dishonest men so often got into office in this way that secret societies were formed in the South, to prevent the Negroes from voting in regions where they outnumbered the whites. These societies formed what was called the “Ku–Klux Klan,” and the members wore queer masks and frightful disguises.

Although at first intended merely to frighten and awe, but not to harm, the Negroes, some members of the Ku Klux Klan became very cruel before long. Negroes were whipped, maimed, and even murdered, carpetbaggers and scalawags were treated in the same way, and for a time there was a reign of terror in the South. But these methods were never approved of by the most sensible people. They knew that the only right way is to have good laws and an orderly government, and they worked very hard to secure both.