The History of Reconstruction
Reconstruction is ‘The period that was primarily from 1865 to 1 877 in American history in which the North and South attempted to re-unite after he civil war and address the issues of integrating freed slaves into society. ” (Bowels, 2011). Unfortunately, the Southern states were not as willing to make changes towards ending slavery. Many people felt the decision to free or continue using slaves should be their own States right to decide, rather than allowing the federal government to make these decisions for them. Although African Americans were supposed to be free, southerners found other ways of keeping them as close to slavery as possible. ” (Slavery by another Name, n. D. ). One of the ways they were able to intention new forms of slavery, were through what the south referred to as “Black Codes. ” These codes allowed them to marry, but not outside of their own race. They were unable to own firearms, and they could only work on farms.
African Americans were not able to travel outside of their area, and the vagrancy clause enabled the South to remain in some form of control of the ex-slaves. “The most devastating aspect was the vagrancy clause, stating that if a freed slave did not perform work in accordance with these laws, they could be put in jail or “loaned” out for enforced work, which is another term or slavery. ” (Bowels, 2011). The Civil Rights Act of 1 866, which states; “…
That all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States; and such citizens, of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the united States, to make and enforce contracts, to u, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, (America’s Reconstruction, 2003).
Other Amendments that came about after the Civil War are as follows; The Thirteenth Amendment which was “Ratified on December 6, 1865, is stated that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the parry shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States. ” (Bowels, 2011). The Fourteenth Amendment was created to help prevent the Black codes from continuing in the south.
This Amendment was “enacted in 1868, it granted citizenship rights so that all persons born in the United States (including ex-slaves) became citizens of the states in which they resided. ” (Bowels, 201 1). Finally the Fifteenth Amendment which was, “Ratified in 1870, it specifically stated that ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. ” (Bowels, 201 1).
This enabled African Americans to be free, have citizenship, and the right to vote. Many African Americans began working in the political arena, but due to Southern prejudice, they were still held back from obtaining higher positions. Some simply avoided the political arena because they feared losing what they already gained in the process. In order to help protect the African Americans rights to vote and be free, the government used military forces to help protect them during these times.
In Balance K, Brace’s speech he concludes that “The evidence in hand and accessible will show beyond peradventure that in many parts of the state corrupt and violent influences were brought to ear upon the registrars of voters, thus materially affecting the character of the voting poll lists; upon the inspectors of election, prejudicially and unfairly there by changing the number of votes cast, and, finally, threats and violence were practiced directly upon the masses of voters in such measures and strengths as to produce grave apprehensions for their personal safety as to deter them from the exercise of their political franchise. (Bruce, 1876). I feel the goals of Radical Reconstruction were important to making these changes possible. Unfortunately, even though the government took drastic assure to try and accomplish these goals, there will always be those who choose to go against what is moral and right for everyone to be equal. I do not think a gradualist approach would have been affective, because African Americans would have continued to be enslaved even longer, and there would have been even more violence occurring during this change.