Recon 2 Essay, Research Paper
The reconstruction period was a time of recovery for the country as a whole. To heal the deep wounds of the civil war. The loss of cities, towns, homes, and family members. Whole cities were burned level, and widows were left scattered all over the country with a small pile of smoking rubble left as their houses. The whole country was a shambles and everyone agreed on one thing – it was time to start the healing and recovery of a nation. But the reconstruction period wasn t just about healing. It was a new beginning. For the north, for the south, for everyone a new start. Yet, it was the most important new start to the former slaves, the African-Americans. After being enslaved for hundreds of years, they were suddenly free .. or were they? True, they no longer belonged to someone else well at least not technically. They would be able to earn their own money now .. or would they? At least they would be given equality . Wouldn t they? The answer to these questions is simply no. The “reconstruction”, the “new beginning”, may all have been true. It was a “new beginning” wasn t it? Yes, it was, but was it a good one? The answer to that question is no. A large cause for the civil war was to free the African-American slaves, to allow them to have equal rights to the white race. But after the war was over, and the slaves were supposedly free, did they still not remain caged? Where could they turn? The newly freed slaves had no money, no land, no food, and no jobs. They remained slaves because they lacked those basic necessities. Therefore, where they really freed? The first example that kept them in captivity was food. Everybody needs to eat regardless of their skin color. Previously, food had been provided for them by the slave owner, but now that they were free, they were on their own for finding food. Secondly, was jobs. It was obvious that nobody in the south was going to hire an African-American to do anything more than what they had done as slaves. And even hard farm labor didn t pay anything because the landowners were resentful to pay the African- American s for a service that was previously free. Most of the freed slaves were also illiterate. This meant that a vast majority of them were unable to perform many other jobs even if they could find an unprejudiced person to hire them. When they were slaves the job was right there, you got up and you got on with it. But now that they were free, a job wasn t quite so easy to find. A third drawback was land. If you couldn t work other people s land then you had to work your own. However, the people of the south were hardly willing to give up their land to be passed on to the freed slaves as northerners proposed. Land was always there to be worked as a slave, but it was hard to come by, if not impossible to come by, as a free black person. Money was the real issue. You needed the money to buy the land, to get the job, to make the food. Unfortunately it was a slightly repetitive chain. In order to be able to move onwards and upwards the black people needed an education. Sadly, the money issue is raised once again. Money was needed in order to pay for schools, and schools were needed to provide an education, to supply the black people with the knowledge they needed to obtain the jobs to get the money to pay for the schools. It was an endless cycle, they were stuck, completely stuck. The free blacks were stuck between a rock and a hard place. So what did they do? They did what they were forced to do, and it was terribly difficult. They had to work the land of the ex-slave owners for little money, which is where it all leads back to. Yet the main point is that the ex-slaves were once again working without other option for the ex-slave owners. Deja vous? Yes. With all these difficulties, the reconstruction period was incredibly hard on the free African-Americans. They needed a great deal of support from people such as Lincoln and the Radical Republicans. The north and south had to rebuild the lives they had lost in the last four years – the African-American people had to rebuild lives that had been lost for hundreds and hundreds of years. In conclusion, the reconstruction was a new beginning for everyone but especially the blacks. They were discriminated against and had a very hard life, and you must wonder if life was any easier than being a slave? However, though the life may have been more difficult or complicated, the African-Americans were free, which is well worth the difficulties encountered during the time of reconstruction and even today. Yet they African-Americans would learn to get by. The times were tough, and nobody could really understand the true beauty of their achievement but the African-American people themselves, as U.S. novelist, Pearl S. Buck once put it, “None who have always been free can understand the terrible and fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free”.