Reconstruction had a large impact on African Americans. It was a gateway period for African Americans into American society as equals. Many changes were made that helped them gain rights and acceptance, but it wasn’t an easy change. In the early years of reconstruction, black codes restricted African Americans greatly (Document D), but as reconstruction went on, various acts were passed to help African Americans gain passage into every day society (Document A).
From 1865-1866, the Southern governments put Black Codes into place. These were laws that targeted blacks as unequals in society to try and regain white supremacy. Blacks couldn’t vote, purchase land, testify in court against a white man, bear arms (Document D), etc. Blacks were also forced to sign heavy-laboring contracts for work. Black Codes also sparked the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, who killed and lynched large numbers of African Americans and their families (Document G). Radical Republicans began to take action to give southern blacks equal rights in society. In 1866, the Civil Rights Act was passed that granted African Americans national citizenship and entitled them to sue and be sued, give evidence, and buy/sell/inherit land (Document H). Two years later in 1868, the 14th Amendment was ratified which made blacks both national citizens and citizens of the states that they resided (Document I). States now could not discriminate against blacks.
From 1867-1877, Radical Republicans led Congress to many new laws promoting equality. The 15th Amendment was passed in 1870 granting black males the right to vote. Thomas Mundy Peterson was the first African American to vote under provisions of the latter (Document E). He voted in a municipal election in Perth Amboy in the same year, 1870. The KKK Act of 1871 made the infringement by private individuals of a person’s civil and political rights a federal crime. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 gave protection to blacks against...
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