This new law stated Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction. Being freed was a step in the right direction for the African American, but anything not properly followed through with can end up undoing itself. Unfortunately for the African Americans in the south the progress towards freedom and citizenship and equality had hoped for took a terrible turn for the worse and most of their dreams were crushed.
The north removing their army from the south to settle a dispute over who would be president undid what the 14th and 15th amendment were set to do and with no enforcement of them and the black codes life for the average African American remained one filled with difficulties and racism. In 1863 the emancipation proclamation was written to give freedom to all slaves in the rebel states, soon following that the Thirteenth amendment was passed. This Thirteenth amendment took the emancipation proclamation one step further and freed the slaves wherever they may be.
Now the mass of newly freed African Americans in the South had to face the difficulties of getting a life started while being surrounded by many angry white Southerners. It granted them their freedom, but did nothing to guarantee them with voting rights, benefits, or the same opportunities as their white countrymen. Imagine you spent your whole life surrounded by people who considered you less than a person. To them you were just a mass of living space that only had the brain capacity to do simple jobs.
Once you received a certain document, that says you are a full human being with all the capabilities of others, do you think those people would instantly accept this change and consider you an equal in society? When the civil war came to a close, the White Southerners moved quickly to put an end to the African Americans newfound freedom. They wanted a way to return African Americans back to what they were before the war, which were slaves. In order to do this without getting in too much trouble from the north they had to do it in a way that seemed neutral and fair to all races.
Anyone with common sense however could tell that these laws were passed specifically to limit African Americans. These laws started out as what were commonly referred to as the black codes. These were a set of laws that were applied specifically to African Americans to help keep them in a form of slavery. Some of these laws were. No person of color shall migrate into and reside in this state, unless, within twenty days after his arrival within the same, he shall enter into a bond with two freeholders as sureties. Servants shall not be absent from the premises without the permission of the master.
Servants must assist their masters in the defense of his own person, family, premises, or property. No person of color could become an artisan, mechanic, or shopkeeper unless he obtained a license from the judge of the district court a license that could cost $100 or more. These laws however didnt stick around forever and then the Jim Crow Laws were put into place. The Jim Crow laws stated that it is okay for African Americans and whites to be separate as long as they were equal. Even the Supreme Court said that Jim Crow Laws were constitutional even though the stuff that the African Americans got was so much less quality.
For we colored people did not know how to be free and the white people did not know how to have a free colored person about them. This quote was stated by the name of Houston Hartsfield Holloway following the passing of the thirteenth amendment. Most of these African Americans didnt know how to be free and adapting to this new life was extremely difficult. These Freeman had to now face the difficult task of not only dealing with the racism of the white southerners living around then but also needed to get jobs.
The freedman bureau was then created to try and help newly freed slaves get on their feet. The freedman bureau created March 3, 1865 main focus was to provide food and medical care, to help the freedmen to resettle, to ensure justice for the freedmen, to manage abandoned or confiscated property, to regulate labor, and to establish schools. Now that it was legal for these newly freed men to learn, establishing school in which they could learn was very important. These schools would help them learn trades and skills to help them get jobs.
While the freedmans bureau did not establish schools itself, it coordinated and helped to finance the activities of northern societies committed to black education. It is stated in the Voices of Freedom book written by Eric Foner that by the year 1969 only four years after the thirteenth amendment was passed nearly 3000 schools were established in the south. More impressive than that, these schools have more than 150000 pupils. The bureau was able to give former slaves most of the basics like food, shelter, clothing, and a way to make a living.
Without being given the basics there is no way the African Americans would ever be able to take care of themselves and support their families. They needed help adapting to the new freedoms they were given, just as white men had to adapt to them being free, (although most of the time white men still treated them like dirt). The passing of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments helped to make great strides towards equality for African Americans. This amendment was the heart of Congress reaction to Johnsons reconstruction plan and said that all people born in the United States are citizens.
This upturned the 1857 Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford. In this case it stated that persons of African descent were not citizens and therefore not entitled to constitutional rights. On top of that it also prohibited states from revoking life, liberty or property without due process of law. Finally it required states to guarantee equal protection under the law. All states were required to ratify it. It was of course to get some of the southern states to ratify a law like this that on top of giving freedom to African Americans would also give them civil rights.
Just because the fourteenth amendment said something, which did not mean that it would be enforced. The Military and Reconstruction Act of 1867 however, was passed to make sure that it was. The funny thing about this act is, on the very last day of session for congress, and the congress that was currently fighting with the current president to the point where they tried to kick him out of office overrode his veto and had it passed. The Ten Confederate States that had refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment were divided into five military districts. Each military district was put under
the direction of a military governor authorized to appoint and remove state officials. Voters were registered, and suffrage was extended to freedmen. State constitutional conventions were called, and elected delegates were charged with drafting new constitutional provisions providing for black suffrage. Finally, states were required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment before readmission. The congress didnt stop here however; they later passed even more military reconstruction acts. The new acts directed military commanders to register voters, call conventions, and organize elections, rather than wait for state officials to act.
In the face of recalcitrance from Johnsons executive branch and white southerners attempting to subvert the law, Congress in July 1867 passed a third Reconstruction Act, declaring the existing state governments in the South illegal and subject to military control and the U. S. Congress. In an attempt to delay the creation of new state governments, some southern whites turned to a provision of the first Reconstruction Act requiring that a majority of registered voters was necessary to ratify a new constitution and called for a boycott of the ratifying election.
On March 11, 1868, Congress passed a fourth and final Reconstruction Act that allowed a majority of those voting to ratify a new constitution, regardless of the size of the attendance. President Johnson, being the leader of this nation at the time, worked to delay and obstruct the army from enforcing these laws. The main job of the fifteenth amendment was to give the right of vote to any male of any race. Section two of this article also said The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This sounds great at first that the African Americans will not be able to vote with no problems. This, as good as it looked in writing, would ultimately fail in some places due to the terrorist threats that were places upon African Americans who planned on voting. During reconstruction African Americans were brandished political power in the south for the first time. Most of these men were those who either lived in the north or lived abroad, and were educated. Before holding political power most were either lawyers or teachers. Black political power was unfortunately short-lived.
Northern politicians grew increasingly conciliatory to the white South, so that by 1872 virtually all leaders of the Confederacy had been pardoned and were again able to vote and hold office. The white men were able to take back the south by putting economic pressure on the blacks and by threatening them. One of the biggest ways in which the blacks were threatened was by the Ku Klux Klan, also known as the KKK. The Ku Klux Klan was originally organized in the winter of 1865-66 in Pulaski, Tennessee as a social club by six Confederate veterans.
It started out small and was kept secret at first. When the Klan was first formed they had no violent intentions in mind. After they had a large amount of growth however it turned from a group of people into a terrorist organization. The Klan systematically murdered black politicians and political leaders. It beat, whipped, and murdered thousands, and intimidated tens of thousands of others from voting. The African Americans of course tried to fight back to this injustice at first but because they were outnumbered and had no guns, they didnt have a chance.
A 103-year-old woman was whipped, as was a completely paralyzed man. In Georgia, Abraham Colby, an organizer and leader in the black community, was whipped for hours in front of his wife and children. The KKKs main objective was white supremacy but President Grant responded to their attacks. In the year 1868 Ulysses S. Grant ran for office and used the slogan let us have peace. After getting the fifteenth amendment passed, the Enforcement Acts were passed, which made it a crime to interfere with registration, voting, office holding, or jury service of blacks.
Because of this new law over a 1000 members of the KKK who violated it and interfered were convicted. On top of this act to protect the African Americans there was also the Ku Klux Klan act. These new acts made it so it was okay for the government to interferer and help put a stop against terrorist acts. This act although it did help a little was not greatly enforced. In the year of 1876 was the presidential election of Samuel J. Tilden vs. the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. In this election Hayes ended up winning the popular vote, but as far as electoral votes went it was a tie.
This was a big problem and a hard decision to appease until there was the Compromise of 1877. This Compromise would swing the vote away from the Democrats and to the Republicans in return for the removal of all remaining troops from the south. It was on that day that the period of reconstruction would end and the reconstruction for African American would begin to go backwards in the south. Africans Americans were given a sliver of hope and promised to be free equal man just to have the government not follow up on its promise.
With all of the troops now removed from the south there was no one there to help protect them or to enforce the laws in which gave them freedoms and rights. They never did go completely back to the way it was before the civil war, but because of how in those net couple of years segregation and discrimination could have been eliminated it is just as tragic. African American Reconstruction helped lay out a great pathway for African Americans to become truly equal and free men in the United Stated. Unfortunately because of their not being enough support from the government they would get to walk down that path to equality for many years later.