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Describe the African American experience during Reconstruction. What were the obstacles to citizenship during Reconstruction by African Americans Also, Outline some of the gains and losses in politics made by African Americans during Reconstruction. Fina - Essay Example

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After the civil war, the Reconstruction Era occurred between 1865 and 1877 and sought to address among other things the constitutional and legal status of the freedmen. The Thirteenth Amendment liberated all United States of America slaves presenting a problem as the slave…
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Describe the African American experience during Reconstruction. What were the obstacles to citizenship during Reconstruction by African Americans Also, Outline some of the gains and losses in politics made by African Americans during Reconstruction. Fina
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Extract of sample "Describe the African American experience during Reconstruction. What were the obstacles to citizenship during Reconstruction by African Americans Also, Outline some of the gains and losses in politics made by African Americans during Reconstruction. Fina"

African American Experiences during the Reconstruction Era Introduction After the civil war, the Reconstruction Era occurred between 1865 and 1877 and sought to address among other things the constitutional and legal status of the freedmen. The Thirteenth Amendment liberated all United States of America slaves presenting a problem as the slave owners did not know how to relate to them as equals. This was especially true in the south where the former white slave owners did not want social equality between themselves and their previous slaves because they saw it as a challenge to their superiority status. Opponents of this progress found ways of eroding the gains that had been made.1
Citizenship
President Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech in Louisiana in 1865 referring to the right of the black man to vote. This did not come to fruition as he was assassinated three days later. The Reconstruction efforts fell to President Johnson. He was of the view that the federal government had no right to determine how states governed themselves and in particular voting rights. Further, land allocated to freed slaves by the Freedmen bureau reverted back to the original owners. This leeway by President Johnson led to the southern states enacting black codes which sought to restrict the activity of black people thus availing them as a labour force. This enraged the Northerners who led Congress in passing the Freedmen Bureau Bill and the Civil Rights Bill which were subsequently vetoed by President Johnson. This notwithstanding, the bills became law. The Civil Rights Act defined all persons born in the United States of America as national citizens as equal before the law.2
Under Republican guidance, congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867 outlined how universal male suffrage was to be organized. The law required states to ratify the 14 Amendment which broadened the definition of citizenship by granting ‘equal protection’ of the constitution to former slaves before joining the Union. In February 1869, congress approved the 15 Amendment and adopted it in 1869 which guaranteed that a citizens right to vote would not be curtailed "on account of race, colour, or previous condition of servitude." This assured black’s of their right to vote.3
White Supremacy Movement
In 1867 in response to the strides made by the reconstruction efforts, a section of the southern whites formed the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to challenge the developments. They targeted African Americans who challenged white authority and both black and white republican leaders. They lynched black Americans for what they considered to be sins against the white race. Black’s had no protection as the military protection hired by President Johnson was against Reconstruction and thus turned a blind eye to the violence. The KKK terrorized black people from voting thus increasing Democratic power. The group was finally outlawed in 1871.4
Gains and losses during Reconstruction
The major gain of the Reconstruction era was the acquisition of the right to vote by the blacks. This came as a result of a lot of Amendments to the constitution and Acts which gradually asserted their right to vote by starting with their release from slavery and servitude.
One of the losses of reconstruction was the thousands of lives that were lost as a result of the hate killings during this period. The major loss of Reconstruction occurred when the Democratic Party won control of congress in 1874 and in 1876 asserted their control of the South through a compromise arrived at with the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, who acknowledged Democratic control of the entire south in exchange for certification for his election. This marked the demise of the Reconstruction era as a distinct period as the Democratic Party did not share the same sentiments as the Republicans who pushed the Reconstruction Agenda.5
Conclusion
The Reconstruction Era led to a lot of gains by the African American people who most importantly were finally freed from slavery and servitude acquired a right to vote as citizens in the United States of America.
Works Cited
Holzer, Harold, and Sara Vaughn Gabbard. Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.
James Oliver Hornton, Lois E. Hornton. "Call Me Mister: The Black Experience during Reconstruction." In Slavery and the Making of America, 207, 209-227, 230-231. New York: Oxford Univerity Press, 2005.
Rawick, George P. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography Vol. 8. Westport: Ark. Narr, 1972. Read More
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