Limitations: Southern United States and Grandfather Clause

Topics: Southern United States, Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Klan Pages: 2 (353 words) Published: September 11, 2012
African Americans were very limited in the time during reconstruction. Some of the limitations I will cover include the social, political, and economic. These all had a huge impact on the rights and freedoms of African Americans.

One of the first limitations they faced were social limitations. Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan terrorized African Americans and their supporters by killing and harassing them. Plessy vs. Ferguson deemed segregation, the enforced seperation of different racial groups, constitutional. Black Codes were passed which also restricted African Americans socially. During segregation, black schools recieved much less funding than white schools. These codes helped to maintain the social hierarchy, which placed blacks on the bottom.

Another form of limitations were politcal ones. Black Codes also made it difficult for freedmen to vote. Examples of these methods include the literacy tests and poll taxes. Many Southern states also created what is known as a grandfather clause. This clause stated that if your father or grandfather was eligible to vote before January 1st, 1867, you were given the right to vote. Slaves, of course, did not have the right to vote before this time, so they were denied their Fifteenth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court often did nothing to help.

Finally, economic limitations hindered African Americans. When they were freed, African Americans had nothing to go to, no job or home. In the south economic conditions were terrible because market prices were cut, railroad companies went out of business, banks closed, and the stock market collapsed. This further limited African Americans. Black Codes had the ability to arrest African Americans who were unemployed, or had a lack of money. Many were forced to to enter labor contracts with their former owners, including share cropping and tenant farming that often had restrictions similar to slavery. Often families could never leave because of a cycle known as...
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