African Americans: Reconstruction And Beyond Essay Sample


There are a great many myths and misinterpretations about the Civil War and the Radical Reconstruction Era. While most are familiar with these disruptive times in American History. there are many facts that people are non familiar. Furthermore. the deficiency of acquaintance is exacerbated when the deficiency of acquaintance revolves around the particulars of the abolition of bondage and. more specifically. the new universe African-Americans found themselves in the five decennaries after the war ended. a universe that had more than a few analogues to the current state of affairs with Mexican immigrants in America today.

In 1865. instantly after the Civil War ended and the Reconstruction Era was established. the Bureau of Refugees. Freedmen. and Abandoned Lands was formed as a agency of assisting the freshly freed slaves passage into a new life. This agency was among the first authorities bureaus designed to set up a federally back societal plans. These societal plans included wellness attention.

nutrient distribution and public schooling. Unfortunately. this agency did non stay funded for longer than eight old ages and ended up being dissolved. It is of import to observe that the agency existed at a clip when authorities backed establishments were scarce and it offered a positive method of transitioning the freshly freed African-Americans into American society by doing some minor reparation for anterior unfairnesss.

Reconstruction. nevertheless. was barely a societal fantasyland in the South as one of the most baleful presences to emerge from the Reconstruction epoch was the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Playing to the frights of the white constitution. the Klan was formed as a manner of “preserving” the old ways by repressing inkinesss by agencies of a drawn-out. violent run of panic. To name the Klan terrorists. nevertheless. is to marginalise what the organisation truly was. The KKK was non a fringe extremist group. It was a powerful political force that amassed a general rank in surplus of one million dues paying members and countless more 1000000s in sympathisers. In fact. many elected functionaries were Klansmans and they played a major factor in developing the segregation system that was a constituent of the cloth of life in the South. To intensify this state of affairs confronting African-Americans even further. in the early 1900’s. KKK sympathiser Woodrow Wilson was elected to the office of the President. The authorities that one time freed the slaves was now looking to smother and command those who were freed from one for of subjugation and so transferred to another subjugation.

The south white oligarchy used its economic power to form the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups. Northern politicians began to weigh the advantage of the political support of destitute blacks… against the more stable state of affairs of a South returned to white domination. accepting Republican laterality and concern statute law. It was merely a affair of clip before inkinesss would be reduced one time once more non excessively far from bondage. ( Zinn )

In other words. in order to avoid another struggle. the North and the South reached a via media where the North would keep economic laterality whereas the South would retain its societal construction. The concerns of the African-Americans were marginalized and brush off under the rug.

The North. it must be recalled. did non hold to undergo a revolution in its thought to accept the subordination of the Negro. When the Civil War ended. 19 of the 24 Northern provinces did non allows Nefroes to vote. By 1900. all the southern provinces. in a new fundamental law and new legislative acts. had written into jurisprudence the disenfranchisement and segregation of Negroes. and aNew York Timescolumn said: “Northern men…no longer denounce the of the Negro vote…The necessity of it under the supreme jurisprudence of self- saving is honestly recognized. ( Zinn )

While liberating the slaves was surely a immense measure frontward for American civilisation and a played a major function in extinguishing bondage on a world-wide footing ( unhappily. bondage still existed in other countries of the universe such as Brazil where the volume of people sold into bondage increased and did so for several old ages ) . to merely fade out bondage. transfuse an apartheid system of segregation where basic civil rights are denied is merely a more elusive signifier of bondage. Deducing from the economic and societal via media was the dashing of the hopes of many African-Americans who saw their emancipation hopes dashed and replaced with a subjugation government in the signifier of the same authorities that had one time claimed to be assisting them.

In the early 20Thursdaycentury. 40 old ages had passed since bondage was abolished in the United States. yet between 1900 and 1965 there was a lower limit of 3. 000 incidents of lynching of black citizens in the South. This is to state nil of other signifiers of force perpetrated on inkinesss that resulted in decease such as bombardments. whippings and shots that occurred in both the South and the North. Furthermore. there were important cases of physical force and assaults that did non ensue in human deaths that have ne’er been recorded. While bondage had ended. there was still a violent system of subjugation in topographic point designed to make a subsystem of American society that would subsequently be referred to as a system of internal colonisation. Sing that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act would non go jurisprudence until the mid-1960’s ( Lyndon Johnson. fearing a re-election loss. did non desire to go through the Voting Rights Act excessively near to the Civil Rights Act ) . and that even AFTER these Acts became jurisprudence the National Guard had to be called in to implement it speaks volumes. The inquiry that comes out of this is. was there any period of hope for African-Americans in the first few decennaries after the decision of the Civil War?

Similar to the function that many illegal Mexican immigrants play today. African-Americans played the function of inexpensive labour. While the power construction of the South maintained an economic substructure of low cost labour driving the cost of good down which allows “everyone” to profit. However. African americans were non integrated into society on an equal degree. nor were they provided with economic advantages or civil rights and this played a major axial rotation in African-Americans migrated to the North. While life in the North was barely perfect. it was better than what existed in the South. Similarly. Mexican immigrants might non hold the greatest chances in America. America offers far more chance that the economic and offense ridden catastrophe country Mexico has devolved into.

The period of old ages between 1910 and 1920 was dubbed the epoch of “The Great Migration. ” as during this clip frame at that place saw a important addition in Afro-american resettlement from the southern provinces to the industrialised North. The ground for this mass hegira was to seek economic prosperity. as there was a important demand to make full occupations in northern mills as the both voluntary and conscripted soldiers from the white communities in the north sent to contend in the barbarous trenches of World War One had left important vacancies in the highly of import mill industry. Facilitating this migration was the prostration of the Southern economic system:

The war opened a period of difficult times…Businesses throughout the state were depressed. farm monetary values were deflated. unemployment were serious. heavy industries were working far below capacity and Bankss were cleared off. ( Zinn )

The economic jobs in the South that coincided with the demand for mill occupations in the North eventually allowed the opportunity for an hegira from segregation and a new life for many African-Americans. The modest prosperity derived from employment chances was the footing of an emerging cultural individuality for African-Americans who migrated every bit good as supplying a symbol of hope for those who remained in the south all of which is paralleled in the new migration of immigrants from Mexico who portion a commonalty with the African americans of the early 20Thursdaycentury. Similar to the African-Americans of the Great Migration. Mexican immigrants fill an employment nothingness created by Americans disinterested in arduous work that pays ill.

Sadly. in a inexorable analogue of the anti-immigration sentiment that exists today. there besides existed an anti-African American migration during the early portion of the 20Thursdaycentury every bit good. This was apparent one time the Great War came to a decision. “Race public violences occurred in Northern provinces. as some Whites feared that they would lose occupations to the migrators. who normally were willing to work for less than other people. ” ( Anon )

From this unfortunate event. many freshly imported African-Americans found themselves in a enormously economically disadvantageous place that they would non emerge from until recent old ages.

The history of African-Americans in the United States between the old ages of 1865 and 1917 has been a disruptive 1. The sad. assorted message of the hope of the Emancipation Proclamation being undermined by the establishment of segregation. an establishment that was enforced by the Ku Klux Klan in a violent. barbarous method of repression. While non a perfect solution. the ability to migrate to the North during the period of World War One for the promise of occupations did supply a new hope. one parralleled by Mexican migrate workers today. albeit a hope that was brief.

Plants Cited

Anonymous. 02 February 2005.Great Migration08 October 2006.

URL hypertext transfer protocol: //www. ohiohistorycentral. org/entry. php? rec=502

Howard Zinn. ( 1999 ) A People’s History of the United States. New York: Harper’s


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