The meaning of freedom: the failure of Reconstruction
Slavery in America started around the 17th century. The first slaves entered in America in 1619 where their main task was to help in the cultivation of the lucrative tobacco plant. Slavery became rampant throughout the American colonization in the 17th and the 18th century. The European settlers were in front line-favoring slavery since they needed workers to work on their plantations. The slaves were supposed to work day and night without rest. Most of the slavery came from Africa through the most famous slave trade known as the transatlantic slave trade. The slave stayed in America for many years and eventually became African American after the civil war. After the American independence, the slavery continued since the American presidents like Abraham Lincoln feared on losing the potential workers who were driving force of economy in the United States. In the mid-19th century, the westward expansion of America and evolution of slave abolishing movement provokes hot debates on the slavery. Because of these debates, the bloody war arose that tear the nation apart. The America Civil War started in 1861 and ended in 1865. More than 180000 ex-army African men involved directly in the war where they served more than 154 chariots. The victory of the African Union led to the freedom of four million slaves (Fahs 184). After the abolishment of slavery in America in 1865, African American faced the challenge of transition to life from slavery to ex- slave. The majority of them they had no basic need to support their life after the end of slavery. Government and civil right movement during the Reconstruction period supported the ex-slaves. Reconstruction was important in establishing better life to slaves after a long time of slavery.
During reconstruction period from 1865 to 1877, the Congress enacted and enforced major bills, which aim in enhancing civil and political privileges of the former ex-slaves in the South. The major changes in the law were in the amendment of the American constitution. There were several constitution amendments passed by the Congress among them were; 13th amendment of 1865 that terminated slavery, 14th amendment of 1868 that permitted African American right for nationality and 15th amendment of 1870 that give African American right to vote (Stampp 491). The African American embraced the constitution right of citizenship and able to integrate freely with the Native American without fear of being prejudiced. More than seven hundred African American worked in elected public office during the reconstruction period. During this time, there were two African American senators and 14 African American members in US House of Representatives. More than 1300 African American worked in various government jobs in U.S (Stampp 492). The majority of the whites in the south they resisted the political and civil rights of the African-American as passed by the Congress. The federal government and the republicans in congress insisted that civil and political right for African American is mandatory to every individual in the America. It deployed the military in 1867 to protect the African American in South.
The freedom African American slaves were very important not just to the history of American but also to the life of the African American people. Freedom was like the rebirth of their new life that marks the end of the agony during the time of slavery. For many years the African American were mistreated and overworked by their masters without any pay. The slavery life did not give any African American any right or freedom over their life. Emancipation of the slave was like a promise of the end of poverty and undignified life to them. Emancipation marks the end of undignified life, brutalities, and sexual assaults, denial of the basic rights like wages, salaries, education, property ownership, and legal marriage (Hine 102). The freedom allowed the African American to exercise their private and public freedom. The Human right Movements across the states in the south they established a law known as black code. Black codes give the African American ex-slave some fundamental basic rights such as the right to marry, right to own properties and right to sue in court. The majority of the ex-slave were living poor and miserable life; black code allowed them to rent land from their former owner to practice farming. The freedom of African American slave was very meaningful since it gave them freedom to have families, freedom of worship, and freedom to seek education. African American was able to practice their communal worship and embrace their rich cultural heritage. There was the establishment of black schools and black churches that promoted privilege of African American.
Reconstruction faced very many challenges since the majority of the white American was against African American civilization. In 1867, the white formed a resistance group to reconstruction efforts of the African American. The terrorist movement was known as Ku Klux Klan, which terrorized the African American leaders as well as African American in the South. The federal government banned the group in 1871 (Chalmers 53). After that, reconstruction continued facing a myriad of challenges due to discrimination of white from south and north. The White viewed the Blacks as unworthy, which heighten racial discrimination in America. The white sabotaged the changes of reconstruction hence reconstruction failed to benefit many African American citizens as planned. The racial discrimination led to the separation of social amenities where the blacks had their social amenities and not supposed to use whites’ social amenities. There were separate schools for the whites and African American. The majority of the schools of African American they were not well organized and had insufficient facilities. The majority of the black they never enjoyed white privilege since white dominated most of the life circumstances and major offices. Civil right movements were formed to struggle for the equality between African and American. In 1964 the civil right act was passed, and equality among African American realized in the 1980s (Chalmers 59). At this time, the racism ended in the United States and African American enjoyed the right of being American as their fellow whites. Initial laws like African American not to hold a position such as juries or testify against the whites were outlawed.
Slavery is the major contribution factor that leads to the emergence of African American race in America. The majority of the African American ended up in America due to transatlantic trade where the majority of the African were sold as slaves in America to work in estates of the white settlers. In the 1860s’ the American civil war arose and majority of ex- military African American they were in front line in that bloody War. In 1865 the black were granted freedom, which marked the end of slavery. The freedom had great meaning to the life of African American because it gave them an opportunity to live a dignified life. Reconstruction, which started in 1865-1867 it, had various constitution amendment, which gave the African American right to vote and to seek American citizenship. Reconstruction led to an influx of African American in public offices and elective position. The southerners white sabotaged the reconstruction leading to racial discrimination, which ended in the 1960s, and 70’s.
- Chalmers, David Mark. Backfire: How the Ku Klux Klan helped the Civil Rights Movement. Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
- Fahs, Alice. The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2010.
- Hine, Darlene Clark. African American Odyssey. Prentice Hall College Div, 2005.
- Stampp, Kenneth M. “The Era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877.” 1967, 491-492.