African Americans: the Loss and Gain of Freedom(1865-1900

Topics: Reconstruction era of the United States, African American, Southern United States Pages: 6 (819 words) Published: October 28, 2005
African Americans: The Loss and Gain of Freedom(1865-1900)

The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865. The period known after the war was

called Reconstruction. During Reconstruction (also called Radical Reconstruction), the

South was in economic, political, and social trouble. In 1865 Congress established the

Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. This became known as the

Freedmen's Bureau. It was a bureau ran by the United States Army, with several field

agents that provided medical care, food, helped black and white refugees deprived by the

war to return home, and established schools.

Goals of the African-Americans were to secure physical protection from abuse

and local terror by local whites, equal civil rights, economic independence, and political

participation. During Reconstruction African Americans were given the right to vote, the

use of hospitals, right to an education, to become part of the legal system (sheriffs,

judges, jurors, and policemen), the right to get well paying jobs, and the right to own

land. African-Americans began to cut their ties to their slave owners, go into the towns

and cities to find jobs, and find lost family members. Besides securing land, education

was one of their top priorities. With the military came people to help run the occupied

states and teachers who wanted to educate African-Americans. These people were called

carpetbaggers by hostile southern whites. Southerners that worked with carpetbaggers

were called scalawags, In time scalawags became known as "white trash."

Over 1,000 schools were built, teacher-training institutions were created, and several

black colleges were founded and some were financed with the help of the Freedmen's

Bureau. The Freedmen's Bureau had inadequate funds, was unable to discontinue most

poverty, and it failed to prevent the emergence of the Black Codes. The bureau was

later terminated in 1872. In June 1866, Congress passed the fourteenth Amendment to

the Constitution, and it was ratified in 1868. It provided blacks with citizenship and

guaranteed that federal and state laws applied equally to blacks and whites.

The South was transformed for African-Americans during the Reconstruction,

but many of the benefits gained during that time were quickly reversed by southern

democrats during the Redemption. In an attempt to reestablish white dominance southern

legislatures in 1865 passed and created Black Codes. Black Codes were a way served as a

way to limit and control the freedom of ex-slaves and laborers. Black Codes stripped

African-American of all their newfound freedoms and pretty much controlled all aspects

of their everyday life. Black Codes were passed limiting the freedoms that the black race

gained African-Americans were denied the right to bear arms, racial intermarriage,

possessing alcoholic beverages, sitting on trains, being on city streets at night, and

meeting in large groups. If African-Americans were not employed by a white employer

they could be arrested, jailed, or fined. Slavery was abolished in name only. The

thirteenth amendment might have been ratified in 1865, but it did not prevent practices

such as sharecropping. Sharecropping became almost identical to slavery. The fifthteenth

amendment was ratified in 1870. It was known as the Black Suffrage. It stated that no

person could be denied the right to vote based on "color, race, or pervious servitude."

This did not stop people from interfering. As soon as rich planters and democrats lost

political power in the South they formed the Ku Klux Klan. They terrorized, threatened,

and lynched African-Americans throughout the South which scared them away from the

polls. African-Americans who resisted or fought back were almost immediately lynched

and the government did...
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