Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Reconstruction

Synopsis

After the Civil War came an era referred to as the Reconstruction. From 1865–1877 the US went through a period of readjustment. At the end of the Civil War, the defeated South was a ruined land. The physical destruction was tremendous, and the old social and economic order founded on slavery had collapsed completely, with nothing to replace it. The 11 Confederate states somehow had to be restored to their positions in the Union, and the role of the emancipated slaves in Southern society had to be defined.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

Oh what have we done, below Mason Dixon?
Oh what have we done, below Mason Dixon?
The bouncy fiddle is silent and still
Big dresses that twirled around sweet southern girls
Flap tattered and torn and there’ll be no cotillion
Oh what have we done, below Mason Dixon?

Oh what has happened, below Mason Dixon?
Oh what has happened, below Mason Dixon?
Great fields burned up, great cities burned down
Returning men found in their countryside towns
All they once knew gone and no one’s on the plantation
Oh what has happened, below Mason Dixon?

Reconstruction brother, that’s Lincoln’s plan
The South with swear unity
We’ll forgive their mutiny
And build them back up
Refill their crumpled cup
Fix it we can – fix up Dixieland

Oh what’s gonna happen, below Mason Dixon?
Oh what’s gonna happen, below Mason Dixon?
Four million freedmen, women and children
Emancipated slaves, a symbolic snapping of chains
But no land, no money, or jobs, or no true education
Oh what’s gonna happen, below Mason Dixon?

Reconstruction brother, that’s Lincoln’s plan
The South with swear unity
We’ll forgive their mutiny
And build them back up
Refill their crumpled cup
Fix it we can – fix up Dixieland

Oh Captain my Captain
Your plans were so grand
To mend a tired torn land
But you were shot dead! So onward we tread
Now you belong to the ages

Oh what have we done, below Mason Dixon?
Oh what have we done, below Mason Dixon?
The bouncy fiddle is silent and still
Big dresses that twirled around sweet southern girls
Flap tattered and torn and there’ll be no cotillion
Oh what have we done, below Mason Dixon

Vocabulary

The Reconstruction— The era following the Civil War, from 1865-1877 that involved ‘reconstructing’ the dismantled South.

Mason-Dixon— The boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, regarded as the division between free and slave states and between the North and the South before and during the Civil War. It was established between 1763 and 1767 by the British surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

What was the Reconstruction?

Tier 2 Questions

Compare and contrast how the end of slavery affected life for the southern plantation owner and life for the southern emancipated slave.

Tier 3 Questions

You are a recently emancipated slave. Write a song that expresses your feelings. Are you happy? Scared? Worried? Excited? For many their new found freedom brought conflicted emotions as the reality of their situation set in, be sure to include this in your song.

Test Prep Questions

1) Which newspaper headline would have appeared during the Reconstruction Period after the Civil War?

  • (1) “Jim Crow Laws End”
  • (2) “Former Slaves Made Citizens”
  • (3) “Supreme Court Issues Dred Scott Decision”
  • (4) “Emancipation Proclamation Issued”

2) During Reconstruction, President Andrew Johnson tried to incorporate most of President Abraham Lincoln’s plan for

  • (1) granting suffrage to former slaves
  • (2) readmitting the Southern States into the Union
  • (3) increasing the power of the North over theSouth
  • (4) punishing the secessionist states

3) What was a major result of the Reconstruction Period?

  • (1) The political and economic rights of women were expanded and strengthened.
  • (2) The power of the states increased at the of the Federal Government.
  • (3) Racial segregation in United States schools ended.
  • (4) The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were added to the United States Constitution.