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Life for African Americans in the United States after slavery was abolished - Essay Example

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Life for African Americans in the United States after the abolition of slavery The end of the Civil War declared the US a new and wholly free nation in 1865 (Foner). The abolition of slavery with the end of the Civil War raised a range of complications for the African Americans…
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Life for African Americans in the United States after slavery was abolished
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Download file to see previous pages After the defeat of the Confederacy, the southern states faced economic and physical devastation. While millions of slaves got freedom legally, the political infrastructures of the southern states lost their legitimacy. Transformation of the South into a free labor economy and readmission of the southern states to the union imparted the need for reconstruction of the South. Freedom fight of the slaves in the post-Civil War and the Reconstruction Era transformed into a struggle for survival. Most of the slaves that had been withdrawn from the plantations were penniless. African Americans’ wages frequently fluctuated as a result of their perceived worth. Manual labor could be replaced easily in the post-Civil War era. There were only a few ex-slaves that had the kind of money to own a piece of land as a vast majority of the ex-slaves dealt with the issue of lack of source of income. As per the estimate of the 1880 Census, no more than 20 per cent of the African Americans were, in part, the owners of the land on which they farmed (“Being an African American”). Most of such holdings were also beset with debt that led to the crippling of the ex-slaves in the long run. For some, life at the time of slavery was better than after its abolishment because as slaves, they at least had some place to sleep and eat at that time. Sharing his views on the dark side of emancipation in the post-Civil War era, Johnson stated, “Since them times, a many a nigger has had it tough to make a livin’. I know dat is so, too, cause I has been all long dere” (Johnson). Ex-slaves saw immense poverty during the Reconstruction Era. Years of prevalence of poverty caused a lack of medical care and nourishment among the ex-slaves which resulted in a high rate of mortality among the African Americans in general and among their children in particular. Ex-slaves were under the burden of due medical bills and were still not able to access the required medical attention. Many started using herbal remedies to treat their illnesses. According to the Census of 1900, annual death rate of the African Americans was 30 in every 1,000 opposed to no more than 17 per 1,000 among the White Americans (“Being an African American”). 79 years old James Johnson, an ex-slave from Columbia noted that he “[felt] and [knew] dat de years after de war was worser than befo’” (Johnson). Although the slaves’ freedom was secured by The Emancipation Proclamation and victory of The Union, yet ex-slaves were not liberated under the Jim Crow Laws and segregation. Emancipation brought along with it new kinds of challenges, insecurities, and problems for the ex-slaves. Malnourishment and health deterioration were only some of the multitude of problems ex-slaves had to deal with in the post-Civil War era. A deep sense of isolation from their families weakened the ex-slaves emotionally and psychologically. This division was mainly caused by the sale of slaves, owners’ death, and presentation of the slaves in the pre-Civil War era as gifts from one owner to another. The slaves’ newly found freedom was dampened by loneliness and alienation. White Americans not only saw the African Americans as a nuisance upon normality but also as a potential risk to their dominance. “Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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