The historians Moore, Stampp, and Randall each provide their individual interpretation of the Reconstruction of the South following the Civil War. Moore successfully makes historical connections of other conquered states to support his theory that the South was harshly treated as a result of the war and reduced to a colonial status. Stampp focused on the political aspects of Reconstruction, and cited the words of contemporary legislators to forward his concentration on the manipulation perpetrated by the Radical Republicans. Randall touched briefly on both the subjects of political corruption and loss of Southern resources to promote his rationale that the Republicans impeded real reconstruction. Although their opinions differ, the historians basic contention is that the South was devastated after the war and the Radical Republicans, to some extent, expoilted the vanquished territory and people.
Sherman, Sheridan, and Grant's plans of 'total war' worked magnificently by completing destroying the enemy's power to make war and reducing the South to the equivalent of Germany following the Thirty Years War. After the war, as Randall points out, the South was devastated economically and politically. Moore states that although no property was confiscated the incredible loss in property value compensated for it. With the 13th amendment, slavery was abolished and Southerners lost $2 billion in capital and in South Carolina alone total assessed property value declined by eighty-two percent. Meanwhile, the Confederate currency and war bonds were worthless. More importantly, the South suffered from a tremendous loss of manpower as a result of the emancipation of slaves and an exodus of whites. Physically, the South was barren and economically it was depressed, according to Moore and Randall.
As Stampp reveals, the enfranchisement of blacks dramatically increased the southern electorate and radical Republicans were eager to gain control of such a large base.