February 15, 2013
American Society From 1865-1910
From the end of the Civil War until the turn of the century there were many changes in American society. While some may see these changes as all beneficial, others will argue that the changes made in American society from 1865 to 1910 were mainly detrimental. When we talk about history, its difficult to say if it was good or bad. Throughout history some groups of people have benefited, while others were harmed. Not everyone can prosper from the same event; there will always be winners and losers.
The 13th amendment was ratified in 1865 by Abraham Lincoln, and abolished slavery in the United States. Though most people believe that the primary motive behind freeing the African-American’s was to benefit their race, it was instead to assist in helping the Union gain more power and eventually win the war over the Confederate states. In order for the southern states to be readmitted to the Union, they were required to acknowledge and ratify this amendment. Lincoln knew that if he were to abolish slavery, the southern states would lose their labor force and weaken their economy.
In response to the 13th Amendment, southern states still tried to maintain power over African-Americans by using certain techniques such as Black Codes. The Black Codes restricted African-Americans’ freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and legal rights; and outlawed unemployment, loitering, vagrancy, and interracial marriages.
One of the documents, titled ‘Louisiana Black Codes Reinstate Provisions of the Slave Era, 1865,’ displays the codes that, even though freed, African-Americans were still forced to abide by in the town of Opelousas. The document states that no negro or freedman shall: be within city limits without special permission from employers, be within the city limits after 10 p.m., live within the city limits under any circumstance without being in regular service of a white man, hold public meetings within the city limits, carry firearms unless in military service, get drunk within the city limits, be found within the city limits after 3 p.m. on Sunday unless they reside in the city, or sell, barter, or exchange any articles of merchandise without permission in writing from their employers. A breach of any of these was punishable by time in prison and work on public streets, usually for a time of five days, or pay a sum of five dollars. These restrictions ultimately made life harder for African-Americans than before the ratification of the 13th Amendment (E.D. Estillette, “Black Codes 1865,”6-7).
In both the essays of ‘Continuing the War: White and Black Violence During Reconstruction’ and ‘Ending the War: The Push for National Reconciliation', death and violence are seen as the main themes. Reconstruction and reconciliation between the Union and Confederate states was not cheap and cost the lives of many Americans. The creation of opposing hate groups, such as the Union League and the Klu Klux Klan, helped to further promote violence between the races after the Civil War. One instance in which violence erupted between the races is the riot that took place in Camilla, Georgia in 1868. A procession towards Camilla lead by white Republicans joined by freed people was halted by the local Democrats. The riot begun shortly after when a local drunkard opened fire at the freedmen. The Camilla riot lasted for several days and resulted in the deaths of at least nine African-Americans and the wounding of many more (Steven Hahn, “Violence During Reconstruction,” 20-26).
The essay ‘Ending the War: The Push for National Reconciliation’ tells of President Andrew Johnson’s lenient reconstruction policy in order to swiftly readmit the Southern states. Johnson’s reconstruction plan returned a tremendous amount of authority to the hand of the white Southerners. His plan consisted of a wide establishment of pardon for the participants of the rebellion...