Reconstruction in the South

Better Essays
Reconstruction in the South

While reading Eric Foner's book I came to appreciate the difficulties the freed black slaves encountered for example, how the previous slave owning class continued to manipulate the freed slaves. Also, I was impressed at the great sacrifice they made when attempting to become educated. Last of all I was surprised at the severity of persecution and abuse of blacks that was still considered legal after they were "freed". When the label of slave was removed from the black American, it was meant to clarify that they were human beings.

Human beings eligible to participate in America's society and culture. However, racism denied them the privileges of the American citizen. Although they were no longer slaves, they were still considered to be savages, unintelligent, and the lowest class of person in the United States.

Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The Proclamation set the American slave population free. However, it did not indicate how new Black citizens would be incorporated into the free society. Emancipation would redefine how blacks saw themselves and their aspirations, and it would redefine the labor system. Blacks believed that they could equally share in prosperity and progress with whites. Blacks desperately wanted to move up in social standing and become educated. They desired literacy. They wanted to plant their own crops and have the chance to sell them for profit. They wanted to work hard for the chance of a better life for their children.

The commitment to white supremacy in the South began with the planter's intention of keeping the institution of slavery. Whites perceived

emancipation as "uncompensated liquidation of the nation's largest ...

... middle of paper ...

... for a certain candidate could determine the outcome of an election. Beatings, whippings, and raids on black homes continued throughout the South. Educated blacks and black leaders were persecuted and killed in order to persuade other blacks to refrain from objecting to longstanding policies.

Blacks were tortured both mentally and physically in their struggle for freedom. Racism prevented Reconstruction's incorporation of the free black into white American society. The disenfranchisement of the black citizen pervaded America's culture and politics. Racism allowed the south to remain a one-party system ruled by a regressive privileged few who used violence and deception to repress internal dissension. The black American desired and deserved independence from racial bigotry, caste, and segregation.


Eric Foner - Reconstruction
Get Access