History of African Americans in America 1865-1960’s

Topics: American Civil War, United States, African American Pages: 9 (2982 words) Published: September 2, 2013
History of African Americans in America 1865-1960’s

Georgia Root

HIS204: American History since 1865

Mark D. Bowles

March 18, 2013

History of African Americans in America 1865-1960’s

African Americans in America in history have gone through many hard times trying to just progress out of slavery and obtain freedom and have equal rights. In this paper I will attempt to explain what some of the important events of the time revealed about the role of African Americans in broader American society in, respectively, the 1920s and the late 1960s. I will explain how and why the roles of African Americans in the 1920s differed from their roles in the late 1960s, and explain how events in the 1920s may have contributed to developments in the latter decade. Reconstruction

The Reconstruction Period from 1865-1877 was a time of great turmoil between blacks and the slave owners of the plantations. The blacks were trying to achieve their freedom from slavery and obtain their right to citizenship. The 13th Amendment passed in 1865 had abolished slavery but the slave owners who felt they had a right to own the slaves as their property and work them as they wish. The blacks in the South would endure much suffering before the deeply racist plantation owners would conform to the laws. They felt the government had no right to change what was working for them to provide an income for their families. They were accustomed to the use of free labor from property they rightfully owned. The North was much more likely to conform to the new law than the South. Former slaves did receive the right of citizenship and equal protection of the Constitution when the 14th Amendment passed in 1868. They even received the right to vote in with the passing of the 15th Amendment in 1870, but the provisions of the Constitution were often ignored or violated, and it was difficult for former slaves to gain a foothold in the post-war economy due to restrictive black codes and regressive contractual arrangements such as sharecropping. (The History Channel, 2013). The slaves wrote many letters to the government at this time to report the abuse and unfair labor practices that were happening to them in hopes that someone would listen and assist them in their fight for freedom. In August of 1865, a Northern teacher wrote to The Freedman’s Bureau of the government requesting aid or advice for the colored people of Halls Hill, Virginia to be permitted to obtain and own homes and the land they farmed, educate their own children in their own school houses, and obtain places of worship. (Halls Hill, 1865). During this time President Abraham Lincoln was still in office and he was freeing the slaves and he spoke out frequently about it. He believed “All men were created equal”. He was an abolitionist at heart, but he realized that the outlawing of slavery in states where it already existed might lead to a civil war. Instead he, advocated to outlaw the spread of slavery to the new states. He hoped this plan would preserve the Union and slowly eliminate slavery by confining it to the South, where, he believed, “it would surely die a slow death.” (The History Channel, 1996). Some of the people were very angry that President Lincoln wanted to free the slaves. John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln in 1865, and Andrew Johnson took over the presidency. President Johnson, a former slave owner, was in favor of the slave owners and he did everything he could to keep the blacks enslaved. Johnson was almost impeached but, it was proven that he had not broken any laws. Lincoln’s death was not in vein. Much of what he started had already been put in place and the slaves would eventually obtain some freedom but, only in a very restricted way and with much suffering to come. Civil Rights Act in 1866 was enacted to protect all Persons of the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the means of their Vindication. (United States Congress, April...

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