African Americans in the Reconstruction Era

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The Reconstruction era was put into effect by Congress in 1866 and lasted until 1877. Reconstruction was aimed at reorganizing the Southern states after the Civil War. The reconstruction plan granted the means for readmitting the southern states into the Union, and tried to come up with the methods by which whites and blacks could live together in a non-slave society. America's position as a country was established on principles of freedom but those beliefs were weakened by slavery. At the end of the Civil War, many blacks felt that they were entitled to start collecting the benefits that had been denied for so many years. Being able to vote, own land and have a voice in political affairs were all goals that they believed were reachable. The white, however, saw reconstruction as an embarrassing, revengeful annoyance and did not welcome it. Reconstruction was meant to give the blacks a chance for a new and better life. Many of the African Americans stayed with their old masters after being freed, while others left in search of opportunities through education and land ownership. The Southern white conservatives did not want blacks to own property, have political power, or have the right to vote in elections. In addition, the whites strongly believed that they were superior, and they worked hard to make sure legal limitations were in place to prevent the blacks from gaining any type of equality or power. President Johnson's reconstruction plan included the black codes, which stated that the African-Americans were required to have a curfew and carry identification on their persons at all time. These regulations also bound the 'freedmen' to their plantations. The freed slaves merely wanted the opportunity to continue the family-based shared work methods contrary to having to accept the individual piecework structure. Former slaves wanted to be able to continue to live on the land their ancestors had farmed.

African american's lives were improved in many ways during the era of Reconstruction; one way their lives were enhanced was the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The Freedmen’s Bureau was an organization developed by Congress that assisted African-Americans to acquire an education and provided necessities of life such as food and clothing. It was important for African-Americans to become educated, because it would prevent them from being dominated by white supremacists and helped them obtain well-suited jobs. During the years after the war, white teachers who were mostly from the North, missionary organizations, churches and schools worked hard to give the emancipated population the opportunity to learn. Former slaves of every age took advantage of the opportunity to become literate. Grandfathers and their grandchildren sat together in classrooms seeking to obtain the tools of k to gain their freedom.

During Reconstruction, blacks were often seen not heard. It was usually the white man’s word over the black man’s word. Even if there was a crowd of people that saw what happened, unless they were black, the people sided with the white man. However, when the situation involved a white man getting hurt or killed for supporting the black community, that’s when the government stepped in to put an end to it thus leading to the Civil R A of 1875. Many regulations were passed to help blacks during this period. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 prohibited segregation in public facilities and various government amendments, which gave African-Americans even more guaranteed rights. With government guidelines, the newly dubbed freedmen were still discriminated against by most people and were soon to be segregated once again under government decisions.

The Reconstruction, although short-lived, showed the first real attempts of inclusive freedom for African-Americans. Gains were taking place, for instance, in citizenship, voting, education and politics. Consequently, the failure of Johnson's...
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