Racism After the Civil War

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Racism After the Civil War After the Civil War conditions were bad for both Southern blacks and Southern whites. There were 4 million black men and women emerging from bondage. They began forming all black communities, freeing themselves from white control. But in 1865, Southern state legislatures began enacting sets of laws called Black Codes. These laws authorized local officials to apprehend unemployed blacks, fine them for vagrancy and hire them out to private employers to satisfy their fine. Some codes allowed blacks to only take jobs as plantation workers or servants. The South found a way to go back to slavery without breaking the new laws. In 1866, Congress passed the first Civil Rights Act, which declared blacks as citizens of the United States which allowed the federal government to intervene in state affairs when necessary to protect the rights of the citizens. Then in June of 1866, Congress approved the 14th Amendment which states that everyone born in the United States, and everyone naturalized was automatically a citizen and entitled to equal protection by both state and national government. Even though slavery was abolished and blacks were, at least by law, free and considered equal, they still did not have the same rights and opportunities as white people. In February of 1869, Congress passed the 15th Amendment. The Amendment attempts to ensure black voting rights by stipulating that voting rights cannot be denied on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude. But yet it did nothing to allow the Southern whites to prevent blacks from voting. Since blacks were not educated and did not own property or have the money to pay poll taxes it made it almost impossible for blacks to vote. There was a dramatic improvement in southern education. By 1870 reformers established 4,000 schools for former slaves. Efforts to integrate schools were a failure. All black schools were open to all races but whites chose to stay away. Most blacks did not own land. By 1865 the Freedman’s Bureau distributed land from abandoned plantations to 10,000 black families, but when the original white owners returned they wanted their land back and most of it was returned. Even though blacks were working, most of them still remained in poverty. They worked shorter days and women and children were less likely to work like they did in the past as slaves.

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