Essay on Southern White Supremacy and Black Civil Rights 1863-1877

Essay on Southern White Supremacy and Black Civil Rights 1863-1877

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Having endured the brutality of slavery and the uncertainty of war,
America’s blacks enjoyed a period of relative respite during the years
1863-1877. With slavery abolished, the South underwent reconstruction
within every component of its unsteady structure. However, one must
measure the success of this reconstruction with the criteria of
political, social and economic changes in mind. The amendments of the
1860s gave blacks greater political freedom, but were only upheld by
the military force of the Northern army; blacks developed their first
education and religious institutions, but only within a segregated
framework; and economically, the black population worked long, hard
hours- though in better conditions than slavery. Despite the
progressions, the promise of Reconstruction and the 13th-15th
amendments was far from fulfilled. It remained a tough life for the
ex-slaves.

The political influence of blacks was significantly enhanced by the
revolutionary amendments passed in the 1860s. The thirteenth,
fourteenth and fifteenth amendments expanded black rights to an
unprecedented extent, affording them rights equal to those of an
average white man. The 1868 fourteenth amendment, giving “all persons
born or naturalized” in the Union national citizenship, meant blacks
should be protected equally by law and stand on a jury; the 15th
amendment, giving them the vote, naturally followed in 1870. However,
such measures were only held up by the Reconstruction Governments of
the time, and it was clear that the states’ white citizens mostly
disagreed with the schemes, responding to them with a barrage of
cruelty and violence. However, fo...


... middle of paper ...


...ng of previously
well-taught slaves. Even with this taken into account, though, black
Civil Rights were extended most profoundly in the area of economics;
for the first time, black money was untainted by white supremacy.

Despite the expansion of black Civil Rights during the period 1863-77,
the benefits were limited by Southern white supremacy, and ‘white
trash’ intolerance. Ultimately, Reconstruction failed because
planters’ land was not redistributed, thus ensuring that blacks
remained dependent on their previous owners. By 1877, the blacks still
had very little. However, a small black economy, and several
institutions, had been developed independent of the whites’, thus
enhancing blacks’ standing in society. Nonetheless, the slaves who
dreamt of a post-War ‘promised land’ were severely and tragically let
down.

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