Achieving the American Dream

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From the nineteenth century to the present, the United States has been hailed as a "land of opportunity" where individuals could achieve personal, political, religious, and economic freedoms. The image of the "land of opportunity" was true to different degrees for the African-American sharecropper in the postwar South, the immigrant at Ellis Island, and the wealthy capitalist or manager in the period from eighteen-sixty five to nineteen-fourteen with the African-American being at the low end of the rung and the capitalist being at the top.

The newly freed African-American in the postwar South had the hardest time achieving freedoms due to white men considering them as inferior. As on southerner of the time said, the "ex-slave was not a free man; he was a free Negro" . This is best exemplified in the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws of the time. If we look at the African-American of the time and compare them to the rest of the citizens of United States then they were seriously lacking in the basic freedoms granted to American Citizens. However, if we take a different approach and compare them to what they were only decades earlier, then we see that they had gained many freedoms which they formerly did not have which Reverend E.P. Holmes, a black Georgia preacher best stated when he said "Most anyone ought to know that a man is better off free than as a slave, even if he did not have anything, I would rather be free and have my liberty" .

African-Americans established their own churches, schools, social clubs, and even businesses which provided services such as insurance, banking, hair cutting, and funerals to the black community. With the help of the federal government they took great steps in gaining more freedoms. The Freedmen's Bureau was the first step congress took to aid the newly freed slaves. The Freedmen's Bureau's main purpose was to help negotiate labor contracts, provide medical care, and help set up schools for the freedmen. The second step congress...
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