History Thesis: Reconstruction Era

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After the Civil War, America was still amidst great turmoil and economic instability. During this time period, the ultimate goal for Americans was to seize the “American Dream”. This was defined by most as being able to support their family and live a comfortable life. Although some did achieve this, many faced social, political and economic hardships. Beginning with the unjust treatment of African-Americans, then the struggles of immigrants, and followed by the rise of big businesses, the challenges faced during this time of rebuilding varied among the classes. Of all the groups, African-Americans, had the most treacherous economic ladder to climb. Immediately following the Civil War they had the freedoms necessary to obtain economic success. They were ready to take advantage of their newly found rights as Americans after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Many African-Americans began to find jobs away from the plantations or even re-negotiate deals with their previous masters. The photograph, “Hampton Institute, 1900”, depicted a painting of blacks working on a stair case. This is a metaphor to the way the ex-slaves had to start at the bottom and work their way up. They were complacent with this because they thought if they worked hard, it would be possible for them to seize the “American Dream”. By the turn of the decade, hundreds were elected to office, including two state-lieutenant governors and fifteen into the House of Representatives. However, whites became displeased with the advancement of African-Americans and sought out to limit their ability of being independently successful. Once the reconstruction period ended and the south had control again, the government decided to implement laws that barred African-Americans of exercising their simple rights. The Grandfather Clause, was one of these laws passed that created new, more extraneous restrictions for voting. It was doctored-in, in order to limit the amount of

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