The Legacy Of The Civil War

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There is little doubt that the period from 1865 to 1896 was one of the most significant in American History. The Civil War divided the country on the issue of slavery, but in many ways slavery was not the main issue of the war. The main goal of the war from President Abraham Lincoln’s standpoint was to preserve the Union. The Emancipation Proclamation and freeing of the slaves was a secondary outcome. Either way, following the war the country had roughly 4 million people freed from slavery. Policies regarding their rights and freedoms became the dominant political controversy in the time period of reconstruction. Individuals like Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglas spoke out against society and government for the prejudice against freed slaves. They also believed that the destruction of slavery alone was not enough to consider former slaves free. During the era of Reconstruction the meaning and experience of the freedmen was in some ways the same as it had been when they were enslaved, but in other ways it was much worse than before their freedom. The lack of opportunity, institutional racism and violence in society limited the liberties of the freedmen who essentially gave them nothing but freedom from slavery.
For many freedmen the only thing they had after gaining their freedom was their freedom itself. For the most part they had no jobs, no money and no homes. Former slaves also had little to no formal skills, were mostly illiterate and therefore found it difficult to better their situations. Countless freedmen went back to work on their former master’s plantations for a low wage and essentially remained enslaved. Though there were successes for freedmen during the era of reconstruction like the Civil R...

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...he institutional racism and unspeakable violence that African American slaves were subjected to. Of course the country has made great strides against racism and granted civil rights to African Americans since the Civil War. Yet still there was a period of time when freed slaves were in many ways not free at all. The former slaves experience was in some ways the same as when they were slaves and in others much worse. There was widespread racism and despicable crimes committed against them. The government was either unable or unwilling to give freedmen land and equal opportunities in society and even when they were given rights they were often undermined or reversed. It is fair to say that the history of slavery in America is a complicated one and its effects were felt long after the Emancipation Proclamation. The freedmen essentially had nothing but their own freedom.

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