For Their Rights As Citizens Essay, Research Paper
For Their Rights as Citizens
During the Civil War, almost 200,000 African Americans fought alongside white
people. What did these African Americans fight for? Some fought for the freedom of
others of their kind. While others fought for equality in the eyes of white people. Even
some fought for revenge against the Southern way of life. But what I believe that they
fought for was their rights as citizens. They wanted to be treated as Citizens of the United
States of America, and have all of the privileges endowed to citizens.
?If we fight to maintain a Republican Government, we want Republican
privileges…..all we ask is the proper enjoyment of the rights of citizenship,? p205. This
tells me that the African Americans were thinking of their rights of citizenship before the
war had concluded. To them, being a citizen of the United States meant that they could
do what ever they wanted to do. They could pursue dreams they had to go visit
everywhere and anywhere in this country freely. Nobody would be holding them down or
selling off their children anymore. They would no longer be automatons, they would have
a say in what they wanted to accomplish in life, from banking to farming, to being land
The African Americans also wanted to demonstrate that they were willing to fight
for their rights. Sergeant Charles Singer wrote, ?show the whole world that we are willing
to fight for our rights…? p.215. This shows that they wanted to prove that they were
willing to die for those rights allotted to citizens. ?Let us by a common cause now made
holy by our blood, raise ourselves from the mire,? p.216. To me this shows the
willingness of the African Americans to join together fight for a cause, and not fear death.
Because in the end, they would earn citizenship and all of its benefits. This is a good
reason to fight, earn freedom from oppression, and be given the rights allotted to all
Some fighting under the banner of citizenship and its rights, believed that they
disserved the same rights as the white people. ?…I am not willing to fight for anything less
that the white man fights for…….Give me my rights, the rights that this Government owes
me, the same rights that the white man has,? p.208. This tells me that the African
Americans wanted no less than what the white people already had. And that is not a bad
thing. Everyone disserves to be treated equally, where does it say the black man is a lesser
being than a white man. It says that nowhere, throughout time oppressed people have
earned their freedom from the oppressors. For example look at ancient Egypt, what
happened to those slaves, they were freed, the Roman Empire which thrived for so long
collapsed, lived off of slavery. Time has proven that societies that live off of slavery
collapse after time.
A lot of African Americans wanted a say in the Government, and who was elected
into office. This meant the right to vote, which is the right held by all Americans now.
Back then only male landowners could vote. The African American man wanted that
changed, ?he wanted the right to vote and be voted for.? p.208 This quote is saying that
the African American not only wanted the right to vote, but to run for a government
position. ?We ask to be made equal before the law; grant us this and we ask no
more,?p.225. The way I interpreted this is that the African Americans wanted all of the
same rights granted to the white people. I don?t blame them for wanting that, after being
drug away from their homes, forced to work to death, they disserved no less from people.
The ?African-American soldiers fought for full citizenship in the United States,?
p.206. In 1857 the Supreme Court had rules that African Americans were not citizens.
So there were restrictions on free blacks before the war. They could not move to another
state, or serve on juries and testify in court, and not attend public schools. The African
American was fighting for these privileges, rights, bestowed on any white person of the
time. They were fighting for the right to vote, contribute taxes, be voted for, and
especially freedom to pursue their own happiness.
During the turbulent era of the Civil War, African Americans had a lot to lose if
the North lost the war. For example they would lose their rights as people, and be treated
as automatons in fields. This is the reason the black man fought, he fought to be
recognized as a person, not as property. With the recognition as a person, he would gain
rights, these rights meant he was a citizen with responsibility towards their country. With
these rights he could make this country a better place to live for all races. In the end,
?they were fighting for their rights as Americans,? p205.
A Grand Army of Black Men, Edwin S. Redkey, Cambridge University Press, 1992