The Reconstruction period after the Civil War was mostly a failure. It failed to reform the American South into a society that renounced its past. Could it have been done better?
What if everyone who had owned a slave forfeited all of his real estate and livestock for reparations and was disenfranchised for life? What if every freed slave family had been given 40 acres and a mule paid for with those reparations?
What if every Confederate military officer, elected official, political appointee, and judge was executed and forfeited all of his property? What if most of their widows had ended up married to carpet baggers who put down roots for good in the South?
What if every Confederate soldier who was not executed, forfeited all of his real estate, was disenfranchised, barred from owning firearms for life and barred from receiving any form of government benefit for life from any level of government, no matter how severely disabled her was?
What if every church that had preached in support of slavery was burned to the ground and every minister that had preached that hate was exiled to the Utah desert on foot in an undernourished long march?
What if Plessy v. Ferguson, had held that separate was inherently unequal and the Slaughter House Cases had not gutted the privileges and immunities clause?
Would that have been enough to end the poisonous culture that continues to be a blight on the United States and the world? Surely, our nations future would have been more auspicious, if we had taken a harder line.