Reconstruction in the 1800’s can have a lot of different meanings. For some the reconstruction was the rejoining of the two sides that fought in the civil war, the North and the South. For others in government it was the presidential reconstruction after the death of Lincoln. Most importantly for some reconstruction mean finally being a free man with right and who could vote and provide for his family. The African Americans were a big part of reconstruction, just being freed by the passing of the thirteenth amendment which was adopted on December 6, 1865. This new law stated “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Being freed was a step in the right direction for the African American, but anything not properly followed through with can end up undoing itself. Unfortunately for the African Americans in the south the progress towards freedom and citizenship and equality had hoped for took a terrible turn for the worse and most of their dreams were crushed. The north removing their army from the south to settle a dispute over who would be president undid what the 14th and 15th amendment were set to do and with no enforcement of them and the black codes life for the average African American remained one filled with difficulties and racism.
In 1863 the emancipation proclamation was written to give freedom to all slaves in the rebel states, soon following that the Thirteenth amendment was passed. This Thirteenth amendment took the emancipation proclamation one step further and freed the slaves wherever they may be. Now the mass of newly freed African Americans in the South had to face the difficulties of getting a life started while being surrounded by many angry white Southerners. It granted them their freedom, but did nothing to guarantee them with voting rights, benefits, or the same opportunities as their white countrymen. Imagine you spent your whole life surrounded by people who considered you less than a person. To them you were just a mass of living space that only had the brain capacity to do simple jobs. Once you received a certain document, that says you are a full human being with all the capabilities of others, do you think those people would instantly accept this change and consider you an equal in society? When the civil war came to a close, the White Southerners moved quickly to put an end to the African American’s newfound freedom. They wanted a way to return African Americans back to what they were before the war, which were slaves. In order to do this without getting in too much trouble from the north they had to do it in a way that seemed neutral and fair to all races. Anyone with common sense however could tell that these laws were passed specifically to limit African Americans. These laws started out as what were commonly referred to as the black codes. These were a set of laws that were applied specifically to African Americans to help keep them in a form of slavery. Some of these laws were. "No person of color shall migrate into and reside in this state, unless, within twenty days after his arrival within the same, he shall enter into a bond with two freeholders as sureties”. “Servants shall not be absent from the premises without the permission of the master”. “Servants must assist their masters "in the defense of his own person, family, premises, or property”. “No person of color could become an artisan, mechanic, or shopkeeper unless he obtained a license from the judge of the district court – a license that could cost $100 or more.” These laws however didn’t stick around forever and then the Jim Crow Laws were put into place. The Jim Crow laws stated that it is okay for African Americans and whites to be separate as long as they were equal. Even the Supreme Court said that Jim Crow Laws were constitutional even...
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