African American Reconstruction


Length: 1245 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓
Prior to the Civil War, African Americans were treated as second class individuals. They lacked the freedom and equality they sought for. To the African Americans, the Civil War was a war of liberation. Contrary to what African Americans perceived, Southerners viewed the war as an episode of their journey to salvation. Southern lands may have been destroyed and depleted, but the South was persistent that their racial order would not be disrupted. To most, the goals of the Reconstruction era were to fully restore the Union, and to some, grant emancipation and liberty to former slaves. Although the newly freedmen gained various rights and liberties, their naïve dreams of complete equality and liberation collapsed due to the immense resistance of the South.
Once freed, African Americans believed that the rights of a citizen were granted to them. They truthfully believed this because after a brutally fought war, basic rights such as education, land, and employment were so modest, they were undeniable. Even though they were proclaimed as free, their place is society remained unaffected. The Freedmen's Bureau became one of the earlier agencies to provide support for newly freedmen. The agency offered education, advice and protection to its members. The most significant asset of the bureau was education. The literacy rate of African Americans rose about twenty percent due to the organization. Some freedmen even attended colleges to earn degrees. Many white Southerners viewed the African American attempt at education as a waste of time. They condemned the efforts of their social improvement. With much criticism by racist whites and inadequate funds, the Freedmen's Bureau concluded by 1872 injuring African American hopes of social equality.
Another goal of African Americans was the ownership of land. To the freedmen, land ownership was equivalent to economic independency. However, they were mistaken. Economic independency was an unrealistic goal in the southern environment. As former slaves, African Americans were very familiar to the agricultural life style. As a result of Sherman's raids across the south, large plots of land were left uninhabited. Vast amounts of freedmen took the opportunity to occupy these lands. In 1866, Congress also passed the Southern Homestead Act giving African Americans access to public lands in five southern states. Contrary to what the freedmen believed, land ownership did not ensure financial success. Most land owned by African Americans was small and had an inferior value compared to white farms.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"African American Reconstruction." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=156288>.
Title Length Color Rating  
African American Reconstruction Essay - Prior to the Civil War, African Americans were treated as second class individuals. They lacked the freedom and equality they sought for. To the African Americans, the Civil War was a war of liberation. Contrary to what African Americans perceived, Southerners viewed the war as an episode of their journey to salvation. Southern lands may have been destroyed and depleted, but the South was persistent that their racial order would not be disrupted. To most, the goals of the Reconstruction era were to fully restore the Union, and to some, grant emancipation and liberty to former slaves....   [tags: African American History] 1245 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
African American Leaders Post- Reconstruction Essay - ... After the death of Aaron Anthony the plantation master, Frederick was sent to Baltimore to work for Hugh and Sophia Auld. At the age of twelve years old Sophia Auld began to teach Frederick how to read despite it being against the law in Maryland. In 1837 Frederick meant Anna Murray a free black woman who would become his wife. With a desire to be free, Frederick decided to run away with the help of Anna by pretending to be a sailor and living off savings to cover costs. Dropping his two middle names and changing his last name to Douglass he arrives in New York at the home of an abolitionist....   [tags: Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas]
:: 5 Works Cited
1328 words
(3.8 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Essay on The African American Experience and Their Aims for Writing - During this period of literature of the Reconstruction to the New Negro Renaissance, 1865-1919, African Americans were becoming more educated and more aware of the rights that they were entitled to. The start of this Reconstruction Era began after 1863’s emancipation of slaves in the Confederate states and the Civil War’s end in 1865. Although the three Civil Rights amendments, thirteenth(1865), fourteenth (1868), and fifteenth (1870), ends slavery in slaves states, ensures equal protection and due process for all citizens, and gives voting rights to all men(Black and White), institutionalized segregation was still an issue(UShistory.org)....   [tags: slavery, reconstruction era, literature]
:: 10 Works Cited
1072 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Analysis of The Reconstruction Period Essay - After the ending of the Civil War in 1865, slavery was, at last, formally abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment. Due to the freedom of these African Americans and the South’s ever-growing hatred towards this group, African Americans were left to suffer harsh discrimination and horrible conditions. Africans Americans were left without homes, education, jobs, or money. Reconstruction was the Radical Republicans’ attempt to try and bring the Confederate states back to normal and unite both the South and the North into a whole country once again....   [tags: slavery, african americans, reconstruction] 1071 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
African Americans and Reconstruction Essay - On January 1, 1863 the decree that President Lincoln made that stated all slaves in seceded states not under union control were free took in to effect. Although, it wasn’t until 1865 that the 13th amendment was passed which officially making African Americans free in the United States. Shortly after this amendment passed the civil war ended with a victory for the North and created the reconstruction period. Even though the 13th amendment freed slaves it was not until the passing of 14th and 15th amendments that gave African Americans more rights and freedoms....   [tags: slaves, civil war, suffrage] 608 words
(1.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
How the Failure of Reconstruction Impacted African Americans Essay - After a war that claimed the lives of more men than that of all other wars combined, much of the country was left in ruins, literally and figuratively. Dozens of towns in the South had been burned to the ground. Meanwhile, the relations between the North and South had crumbled to pieces. Something needed to be done so that the country could once again be the United States of America, not the Divided States of America. The years from 1865 to 1877 were a time of rebuilding – the broken communities and the broken relations....   [tags: 13th amendment, war, reconstruction]
:: 5 Works Cited
882 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Characteristics and Impacts of American Reconstruction Essay - Characteristics and Impacts of American Reconstruction The key goals of Reconstruction were to readmit the South into the Union and to define the status of freedmen in American society. The Reconstruction era was marked by political, not violent, conflict. Some historical myths are that the South was victimized by Reconstruction, and that the various plans of Reconstruction were corrupt and unjust. Actually, the plans were quite lenient, enforcing military rule for only a short period of time, ignoring land reform, and granting pardons easily....   [tags: American Reconstruction History Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1542 words
(4.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The African-American Odyssey Essay - The African-American Odyssey The Promise of Reconstruction, 1865-1868 The emancipation of the African slave who was now disconnected from their traditions and way of life after nearly 300 years, is seemingly a great gush from the dam to the ebbs and flows of the struggle. The end of slavery as we know it, presented a ball of mixed emotions among the nation; North and SOUTH. Some slaves were grossly ecstatic to be free. For example, when a slave girl named Caddy, from Goodman, Mississippi found she was free, went to her mistress, flipped up her dress and told her "Kiss my ass!" On the contrary, some slaves were apprehensive of being free....   [tags: African American History] 1668 words
(4.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War - The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War At the close of the American Civil War in 1865, the United States’ government was faced with the tremendously difficult problem of re-integrating the Confederate States into the Union. Between 1865 and 1877 this problem was addressed by various forms of “Reconstruction,” programs whose goals also included the rebuilding of the ravaged Southern economy, and the integration of freed slaves and other African Americans into citizenship and culture at large....   [tags: American History Reconstruction Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1471 words
(4.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Reconstruction Essay - Reconstruction was the time between 1863 and 1877 when the U.S. focused on abolishing slavery, destroying the Confederacy, and reconstructing the nation and the Constitution and is also the general history of the post-Civil War era in the U.S. between 1865 and 1877. Under Abraham Lincoln, presidential reconstruction began in each state as soon as federal troops controlled most of the state. The usual ending date is 1877, when the Compromise of 1877 saw the collapse of the last Republican state governments in the South Reconstruction opened many doors for its newly freed African American citizens....   [tags: American History] 910 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]



White neighbors held a tight hostility towards the freedmen. They refused to lend tools or offer advice disintegrating African American hopes of equality even further. Many freedmen may have become land owners, but the vast majority never satisfied their goals of land ownership. Many officials advised the freedmen to become sharecroppers and tenant farmers to work as laborers under a mutual relationship with white land owners to help revive the southern economy. This "mutual" relationship eventually became similar to slave and master relationship.
While some freedmen stayed to work on farmland, others migrated to cities and towns. Their objective was to search for an occupation and their lost family members. Whites generally detested this movement because it reduced the labor force on farms. In the cities, African Americans also competed with whites for jobs and established organizations in hope of social and racial equality. African Americans typically inhabited the cheapest areas of the city. Most freedmen entered the cities untrained in any skill. Thus, they became a workforce of unskilled workers. The wages of the laboring class were sometimes below the subsistence level. Struggling with rent payments and putting food on the table, many viewed the laboring class of African Americans even worse than slavery itself.
As a result of special congressional elections, many chief confederate leaders returned to office. These newly elected southern legislatures formed a series of laws known as the Black Codes. These laws barred African Americans from certain jobs, attending a jury, and the possession of fire arms. Idleness among freedmen was also punished. The laws also gave the right to deprive African American parents of their children is they were deemed unable to support them. The Black Codes mock the newly won freedom of the freedmen. It acted as a heavy blow toward African American aspirations and ambition towards equality.
Fearing that the south would gain vast political power, the northern Republicans countered with a series of Bills that favored Black male suffrage and those that concluded the Black Codes. However, President Johnson vetoed these bills. As Congress became overrun with Republicans, they were able to override Johnson's veto with a 2/3 majority vote. Consequently, in 1866, the 14th Amendment was passed granting all African Americans citizenship. The 14th Amendment also prevented the states from violating the citizen's rights. The Amendment diminished the enforcement of Black Codes, but the violence towards blacks increased. The Military Reconstruction Acts of 1867 set rules for the readmission of the confederate states into the union. The Reconstruction Acts divided the south into five military zones, each headed with a Union general. The general would remain until a majority of eligible voters would vote on a new constitution that guaranteed universal male suffrage. Soon afterwards, the 15th Amendment was passed in response to the growing violence toward voting freedmen.
Freedmen even ventured into the political world. A network of political clubs known as the Union League was formed in order to campaign for republican candidates, and build institutions such as churches and schools for African Americans. African Americans became a major asset of the Republican Party generating a majority of the votes. Yet, they kept a low profile to prevent defiling the party's image. The League also recruited militias to protect the freedmen. Numerous freedmen even held political offices, becoming mayors, sheriffs, and other local office holding positions. White Southerners loathed seeing their former slaves with higher social standings.
Many white southerners were still persistent on maintaining their racial order even though laws have been passed to alter them. They became wretched due to the fact that their former slaves had gained numerous rights. These extremely racist white Southerners founded the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan was an organization that prevented African Americans from utilizing their gained rights by the use of terror and violence. Their violence and relentless murders are documented by Kathleen Gorman. She writes, "Felker and his Klan did not hesitate to murder freedmen who threatened Walton's social structure…It was much more common for them to beat their victims." This statement by Gorman expresses the merciless and cruel actions taken by the Ku Klux Klan to ensure that the racial superiority of whites remained in the county of Walton. Klansmen confidently killed many freedmen for reasons such as knowing how to read and write. The Ku Klux Klan completely undermined the goals of abolitionists.
After decades of slavery, African Americans were finally emancipated after the Civil War. However, their inferior image remained in the white supremacist nation. South resistance rapidly demolished any African American ambitions. Although African Americans received the title of a citizen, their naïve dreams of complete equality were milestones away. In fact, it would take another century before their goals of equality and complete liberation are secured.

Works Cited:

Goldfield, David. The American Journey: A History of the United States.

New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 1998.

Gorman, Kathleen. "A Klansman in Walton County."

Georgia Historical Quarterly LXXXI No. 4 (1997): 898- 914.

"Implementing Reconstruction, 1868-1873."

Emancipation and Reconstruction 74-101


Return to 123HelpMe.com