Freedom for African Americans in Democracy in the America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Freedom for African Americans in Democracy in the America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Length: 1428 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, much is said on the great freedoms experienced by whites, but little does it mention the freedoms experienced by free blacks at the time. It does, however, give a small glimpse of it. In his book, de Tocqueville describes his conversation with an inhabitant of Pennsylvania. He questioned the man, asking how a state founded on Quaker principles could deny a free black to vote. When the man denied such accusation, de Tocqueville asked why no Negro was then seen at the polls that morning. The insulted man replied, “This is not the fault of the law: the negroes have an undisputed right of voting, but they voluntarily abstain from making their appearance.” It is difficult to believe that free blacks had such a right before the ratification of the 15th Amendment, but they did – surely not everywhere but in a few states nonetheless. Thus, it is reasonable to question what other rights free blacks experienced in antebellum America. More importantly it is important to look at the limitations placed on these rights and how blacks overcame them.

It is easiest to believe that free blacks experienced the most freedom in commerce. In the South free blacks were most likely to work as farmers. Those who could not afford their own land worked on the fields of others. In North Carolina, for example, counties with large free black populations often saw free blacks working on large plantations. There they worked as field hands, drivers, and all around laborers. This was perhaps the easier type of work for a free black to obtain simply because it was no different from the work of a slave. It was menial labor which provided no social mobility for free blacks. As for those who did own land, much mo...


... middle of paper ...


...ely right to feel threatened by free blacks. Many free blacks took advantage of the few rights they had and maneuvered through the limitations placed upon them to further themselves and climb the social ladder. Although they did experienced no more than a quarter of the rights whites did, they used the few rights that they did have to become something greater.



Works Cited

Lofton, John. Denmark Vesey’s Revolt. Ohio: Kent University Press, 1983.
de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. Translated by Henry Reeve. New Jersey: The Lawbook Exchange, 2003.
Bracey, Meier, and Elliot Rudwick. Free Blacks in America, 1800-1860. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1971.
Gold. “English Grammar”. Freedom’s Journal Volume 1 No. 49. Nov. 16 1827
Bibb, Henry Heglar. Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb: An American Slave. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about African Americans During The Civil War

- In May 1865, less than one month after the death of President Lincoln, the Freedman’s Bureau was established (DuBois Souls 21). The need for such an agency grew out of a “national crisis” of destitution and atrocious living conditions among freed slaves. The squalid reality of African Americans was exacerbated by violent terrorism (Coates 19-21). Deep racism and years of neglect resulted in lack of access to political agency, education, and the economic management skills required for self-sufficiency (Souls 17-18, 28; Balfour 26-28)....   [tags: African American, American Civil War]

Powerful Essays
1226 words (3.5 pages)

Arguments Against Freedom Of Expression Essay

- In considering freedom of expression and where to limit it, a careful balance needs to be struck. Too forceful limits on expression can lead to autocratic governments that jail dissident citizens and force its citizens to hide away original thoughts. Yet, laws that give a hall pass to all speech that does not present imminent danger merely allows hate groups to flourish and sow their ideals. True democracy ensures each person is allowed an equal say, regardless of any physical, mental, or personal trait....   [tags: Democracy, Freedom of speech, Hate speech]

Powerful Essays
1053 words (3 pages)

Essay American African And African American History

- In Kevin Gaines’ book, American Africans in Ghana, Gaines combines both African and African American history together unlike others have done in the past. Gaines’ book gives his audience insight on the relationship that many prominent African Americans in the Mid-nineteenth century had with Africa. Gaines tackles many issues that were prevalent during this time period, for instance, he tackles race, class, citizenship, independence and freedom. Gaines does this to change the narrative that existed about Africa....   [tags: Black people, African American, African diaspora]

Powerful Essays
1822 words (5.2 pages)

Essay on African Americans During The World War I

- For African Americans World War I was one of the most transformative moment. At first the war seemed not to impact African Americans much. Little did they know that the war would directly impact them all, both women and men, African Americans from the North and the South, in this case the most affected were the Southern African Americans. At that time African Americans knew that they had to try to struggle for something they called black freedom. Even though many African Americans did not participate in many important issues such as voting or the right of having a better paid job, their hard work and commitment gave them the opportunity to give their families a better future economically an...   [tags: African American, Southern United States]

Powerful Essays
1127 words (3.2 pages)

Essay Democracy: Yesterday and Today

- The word Democracy has been defined a number of different ways by many people all over the country. This word has also meant different things over the years as things began to change throughout the United States. People in the past had different views on Democracy because life back then was much different than it is today. People realize that they really have a voice and a chance to fight and vote for what they believe in. The television show, “The Voice”, sees democracy as only the people who own an electronic device has the right to vote because there is not another way for people to get their vote in....   [tags: Politics, Democracy]

Powerful Essays
2043 words (5.8 pages)

America Should Not Be America Without African Americans Essay

- In this essay I will demonstrate why America would not be America without African Americans. African Americans contributed a lot to America and is a main factor of all that is going on in America to this day. Without black people America would not be. Like it or not African Americans helped with building this famous nation. W.E.B. Dubois asked, “Would America have been America without her Negro people?” Put the question in our head of what would America be without its black people. How will our world change....   [tags: African American, Southern United States]

Powerful Essays
1850 words (5.3 pages)

African Americans And The Abolitionist Movement Essay

- Slavery was an issue in early America that plagued the African Americans who were forced into the position. It was believed, in the beginning, that the African Americans were happy to be enslaved, that it was their natural place. Many of the slaves that were taken from Africa couldn’t be more distraught with being sold into slavery but overtime as the older generation that had memories of freedom were replaced by the generation that only knew servitude. This generation was socialized into their position of enslavement, a lack of self-worth, and no access to education gave the illusion of happiness....   [tags: American Civil War, Slavery, Atlantic slave trade]

Powerful Essays
1650 words (4.7 pages)

America 's Historical Relationship With Democracy Essay

- Latin America’s historical relationship with democracy has been tumultuous. Various countries have fluctuated between semi-democratic and authoritarian regimes until the past few decades. Although Latin American democracies have been historically fragile, the region now enjoys relatively high levels of freedom. However, restriction of press freedom and corruption within the political system may endanger the quality of democracy in the continent. The potential lack of legitimacy brought on by high rates of violent crime may exacerbate these issues....   [tags: Democracy, United States, Latin America, Americas]

Powerful Essays
1408 words (4 pages)

Impact of the Jim Crow Laws on Democracy Essay

- During the early 1900s post reconstruction era, African Americans faced extreme injustice and prejudice in society. By being denied rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and being subject to outright racism, African Americans saw their democratic rights slowly being taken away from them. The Jim Crow laws were the facilitator of this democratic infringement through intimidation, as well as by the failings of our prized judicial system. By denying African Americans certain unalienable rights guaranteed to all American citizens, the Jim Crow laws were one of the greatest contractions of democracy in American history....   [tags: American History, African Americans]

Powerful Essays
1328 words (3.8 pages)

Fighting for Equality and Freedom Essay

- America is a nation built on the beliefs and ideals that man is free. In WWII, challenges arose in America’s freedom. The Declaration of Independence stated that “…all men are created equal.” However, the rights for the ‘White Man’ were significantly above all others, and because of this, women and black men lacked the same equality as the ‘White Man’. In WWII, women took up jobs previously held by men, while the African Americans attempted to join the military. They wanted to assist in the war effort and help defend America to gain their freedom....   [tags: communism, equallity, freedom]

Powerful Essays
1223 words (3.5 pages)