A Success With Respect To Black Americans? Essay, Research Paper
The Reconstruction period was not as successful as most people think it was with regards to African Americans. Though some factors may be seen as more successful then others, but overall the Reconstruction period (with respect to African Americans) was very unsuccessful.
In 1865 legislators ratified the 13th Amendment. With this step taken forward to civility, white southern Americans released their most precious piece of property, their slaves. Though former slaves, better known as freedmen were liberated, a tough road was built before them, one filled with potholes and bumps, the road of equality. Freedmen were anything but equal, documentary wise. Freedmen would find themselves in great peril concerning economic & social status. Though there were Amendments ratified stating equal protection of laws , these Constitutional Amendments were indirectly deprived to the freedmen. The Jim Crow laws enforced African Americans would be equal but separate . Segregation if you will. Another reason as to why the extent of the Reconstruction was unsuccessful regarding protection of freedmen was the north s loss in interest for the south reconstruction and it s freedmen. They were too busy with current issues of graft and basically just wanted to better their lives first rather then having to deal with others in their place.
Two years after the 13th Amendment was ratified, legislators would once again take a step forward by ratifying the 14th Amendment regarding citizenship and civil rights. This Amendment of equal protection of laws and stressing that one could not be deprived of life, liberty and property to the freedmen was quickly unregarded and imposed strict laws such as the Black Codes where if, for example, a freedman didn t have employment they could be fined or imprisoned. This is most likely seen as the negative initiative placed be southern legislators disabling African Americans from holding political offices, voting, serve jury duty and bear arms. Thus giving white southerners to regain position in government offices. Two years after the codes were imposed Congress realized the codes where a giant step backwards and took in affect the civil rights bill that had been shortly vetoed by president Johnson. But Congress overrode Johnson s vetoes and passed the civil rights act, which weakened the black codes and also passed the freedmen s bureau act into permanent laws. In all these factors regarding to civil rights where somewhat successful, as one can see.
Finally regarding suffrage, the extent of the Reconstruction here were somewhat unsuccessful. Two years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment, legislators would ratify the very tool essential to being elected, suffrage to African Americans. But one again, and not surprisingly new, Congress set certain conditions for voting, for example the grandfather clause which allowed only those whose granddad s had cast votes before could therefore vote, and since freedmen s grandfathers had all been slaves, freedmen would not come within reach of the ballot box. Another factor that disabled freedmen to vote was the poll taxed imposed to cast votes. With this, poor tenant farmers and sharecroppers were unable to pay this luxury were once again keep further from voting. Apart from the grandfather clause and having to pay taxes, voters would have to pass a literacy test which would certainly reject any uneducated freedmen. And to top off the subject freedmen s right to vote were largely subdued through such activities of clans as the KKK and the Knights if the White Camelia. Their activities dealt mostly with scaring the wits out of poor sharecropper families from voting and often lynching a person or four here and there.
What everything boils down to is this: the Reconstruction most probably hurt African Americans more than did any good, obviously concerning with the most important points, equal protection of laws and segregation and voting.
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