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.
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Even when the Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, and the black people embraced education, built their own churches, reunited with their broken families and worked very hard in the sharecropping system, nothing was enough for the Reconstruction to succeed. Whites never gave total freedom to African Americans. Blacks were forced to endure curfews, passes, and living on rented land, which put them in a similar situation as slaves. In
After the black Americans were freed from their slave masters they did not have ‘a cent in their pockets’ and ‘without a hut to shelter them’ . This obvious lack a home, and the monetary funds needed to support them [the freed slaves] and their families, together with the lack of widespread Government support meant that many slaves continued to live in poverty, and in many ways, they could have been better off (economically), had they been left in bondage . For this reason, many Southern slaves ‘had little choice but to remain as paid labourers or to become sharecroppers working on the land as before’ . Sharecropping, which generally involved the ex-slaves renting land, tools, and a house from a white landlord, working the land that is given to them, and then providing the landlord with one-half to two-thirds of the produce . ‘This system kept the black cotton producers in an inferior position’ , which means that while they were ‘officially free’; they were still stuck in the previous cycle of working for their previous masters, without hope of escape for a better life. While this is what most ex-slaves did, some, like Jourdan Anderson, who left the farm on which he, was prior to being freed, with his family, ‘would rather stay here and starve - and die’ than to have his girls ‘brought to shame by...
Prior to the Civil War and Reconstruction, the main goal of the African American population was to be granted freedom. African Americans had been enslaved since 1619 in America, when the first slaves were sold on the auction block. However, their concepts of freedom were extremely romanticized and highly unrealistic as a direct result of the atrocities they witnessed and endured in the institution of slavery. They visualized the abolition of slavery to be comparable with the coming of Jesus Christ. Yet when politics made that day become reality on January 1, 1863, the newly freed men and women were utterly disappointed and in disarray. After living their lives under the institution of slavery, the former slaves were literally left to survive on their own without the proper tools such as opportunities, provisions, or education. This race of people, for whom it was illegal to learn to read or write and even to congregate in groups of three or more, was now released into the same society that had enslaved them, and which was now supposed to open its arms and accept them as equals. Along with this freedom came a sudden change in identity, a clinging to faith, and a supposed new placement within society.
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. Reconstruction was also set to protect and help the newly freed African Americans assimilate to the new society and the foreign economy they were placed in. Conditions of the African Americans in the South before, during, and after the reconstruction period were no doubt harsh. African Americans, before the Reconstruction Era, struggled to assimilate with the hateful society they were thrown in, if not still slaves. Although their condition improved slightly, African Americans during the reconstruction period experienced extreme terrorism, discrimination, pressure, and hatred from the south, along with the struggle of keeping alive. After the military was taken out of the South, African Americans’ condition after the Reconstruction Era relapsed back as if Reconstruction never happened.
Reconstruction was intended to give African-Americans the chance for a new and better life. Many of them stayed with their old masters after being freed, while others left in search of opportunity through education as well as land ownership. However this was not exactly an easy task. There were many things standing in their way, chiefly white supremacists and the laws and restrictions they placed upon African-Americans. Beginning with the 'black codes' established by President Johnson's reconstruction plan, blacks were required to have a curfew as well as carry identification. Labor contracts established under Johnson's Reconstruction even bound the 'freedmen' to their respective plantations. A few years later, another set of laws known as the 'Jim Crow' laws directly undermined the status of blacks by placing unfair restrictions on everything from voting rights all the way to the segregation of water fountains. Besides these restrictions, the blacks had to deal with the Democratic Party whose northern wing even denounced racial equality. As a result of democratic hostility and the Republican Party's support of Black suffrage, freedmen greatly supported the Republican Party.
Slaves gained their freedom, temporarily enjoyed the moment, but then found out they were eventually slaves again through economic systems prejudiced against them. Reconstruction allegedly emancipated all slaves and established citizenship to African Americans who had been perpetually controlled with the chains of captivity. However, they are still trapped because of the Jim Crow laws, poll taxes and literacy tests. Unemployed African Americans were treated as beggars, detained, and made to work without real income. Enormous statistics of ex-slaves could only labor as sharecroppers: tenant farmers are eternally in debt, and mandated to give a hefty cut of the reap to their property landlords, obligated to purchase food at inflated values from
One way their lives enhanced was the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The Freedmen’s Bureau was an organization developed by Congress that assisted African Americans to acquire an education and provided necessities of life such as food and clothing. Freedman’s Bureau set up public schools for African Americans to receive an education. Initially, most of the teachers were white Northern women. However, it became increasingly more African Americans as time progresses. The centralization of black community, outstanding attempted trying to recruit freedmen, the right gained to vote for African Americans, the establishment of public education for newly freed slaves, etc. were some of the significant changes in African American
Reconstruction occurred after the Civil war in the years 1865-1877. The Radical Republicans, 15th Amendment and the Ku Klux Klan were the reason why Reconstruction failed to secure the permanent rights of African Americans. These were only a few of the reasons why Reconstruction failed, but they are the ones that seems to widely affect it. The Radical Republicans were against giving rights to blacks, the 15th amendment led to the Ku Klux Klan act, and the Ku Klux Klan was a group that was against African Americans, the Reconstruction was there to put rights for blacks in place but it failed and never gave them permanent rights.
The Civil War was a devastating war for the country, especially in the South. Rebuilding the nation after the war was more difficult than the actual war itself. The reconstruction was a success because it unified the United States once again as one country and abolishes slavery, but it also was unsuccessful because it failed to protect the blacks’ rights and discrimination against them.
From around 1865 to 1877, the United States was in the Reconstruction Period. During this time, the main focus was trying to get the government to the way it was before the war. Because the Union won the war, they abolished slavery which created many conflicts, mainly over freedmen’s rights. The former Confederate states didn’t want freedmen to have many, if any, rights while the Union states gave them more leniency. Politically, the freedmen didn’t get much justice. They didn’t get the rights they were promised. Economically, the freedmen still didn’t get a lot of justice. The promised compensation was revoked before it ever came into action and freedmen were often caught in a cycle of debt. Socially, the freedmen made some forward
After the Civil War from 1865 to 1877 America was in the era of Reconstruction. This Era aimed to help African Americans gain their freedom after being slaves for most of their lives. To help the former slaves America enforced many laws to give former slaves and their families the freedom they have waited their whole lives for.
Free African Americans in the early 1800s had better lives than slaves, but still, they didn't have the same rights as white people. Some of them had been freed by their slave holders or run away. Others had saved enough money to buy their freedom.
For example, the African Americans who were elected as congressmen were elected at the end or even after Reconstruction. Blanche Bruce was elected as a U.S. Senator of Mississippi from 1875-1881 (Document D). Reconstruction ended in 1877 (Recontruction Timeline). There were some African Americans who were elected in mid-Reconstruction, such as Jefferson Long, who lasted from 1870-1871 (Document D). Be that as it may, this man lasted only a year. Therefore, even though African Americans were elected as senators and congressmen, white Americans still dominated in politics, and the years African Americans were elected do not support the idea that they were free. Another catch would be the fact that they were still much poorer than other Americans. “However, many people were kept poor by the practice of sharecropping. Under this system, people farmed for landowners in exchange for a share of the crop.” (A Union in Crisis). Sharecropping was basically a substitute for slavery. Sharecroppers would get paid, but sometimes, they would end up in debt. “I am to gin & pack all of the cotton and charge every sharecropper an eighteenth of his part…” (Sharecropping Contract). Clearly, African Americans always had a price to pay for their freedom, and they were still given a very little amount of money to get by
After the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished, African Americans were hopeful for the new opportunities that they believed would arise from their newly prescribed freedom. However, lingering prejudices persisted throughout the aftermath of the war. The African Americans included formerly enslaved blacks in the South, many of whom relocated to larger population centers in the North. They sought to reconstruct America into a nation of equal opportunity where they would not be considered inferior due to the color of their skin and be treated with respect.
Reconstructing opened a door for African Americans to be active participants in congress and other forms of government. April 1865 saw large movements within the black community, with meetings, parades, and petitions calling for legal and political rights, including the right to vote.