James Johnson, a freedman said, “I feels and I knows dat de years after the war was worser than befo’. Befo’ the war blacks had a place to lie down at night and somewhere to eat when they got hungry in slavery time. Since them times many a black has had it tough to make a livin’. I know that is so, too, ‘cause I has been all long ‘dere.” The reconstruction period after the Civil War was an extremely arduous time for African Americans. There were many things that could have been done to help freed slaves after the war, such as providing more relief to Freedmen in various ways. Laws such as the Black Codes and later Jim Crow discriminated against and segregated blacks. Freedmen had been promised lands in reparations for being slaves. Poverty and poor health care were rampant throughout the South after the Civil War. Ex-slaves left their former master’s farms and plantations with little or nothing to start their new lives as freedmen. They faced hardships that they had been ill prepared to handle prior to emancipation. Freed slaves paid the price of their freedom with their blood, sweat, tears, and some even their lives.
In the aftermath of the Civil War four million freed slaves emerged from their bonds of slaver...
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...s in the aftermath of the Civil War. If Andrew Johnson hadn’t catered to Southern plantation owners and given them back their land, many ex-slaves would have had land to farm and may have been able to scratch out a living. If the Supreme Court hadn’t completely undermined the thirteenth through fifteenth amendments and instead had backed them fully, things the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws would have never been enacted. The Freedmen’s Bureau could have had more power to provide former slaves with much needed medical help. If the laws that had been put into place to counteract white supremacist groups had been strictly enforced many of the injustices, they caused wouldn’t have happened. We can choose to question the what-if’s and why’s of the past over and over, or we can choose to use the past as a reference for how we should act towards our fellow man in the future.
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