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Slavery and Civil War in America

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The Civil War started because of uncompromising issues between the North and South the North wanted freedom for the slaves and the south wanted slavery because it was their way of life. The issue of free vs slave states went on for years. The differences between the free and slave state governments created an issue of declaring territories free or slave states when they were not a state. After the civil war, Lincoln prepared to reintegrate the south. But do it brought all the destruction the civil war caused tasking him with a bigger job than originally at hand. Soon the 13,14,and 15th amendments were ratified creating equal rights and abolishing slavery. The Civil War and the period of Reconstruction created freedom and equality for all Americans to some extent with the efforts in trying to repair the country from the Freedmen’s Bureau, the uprising of sharecropping in the south, and the violence shown through hate groups.

The Freedmen’s Bureau was created to help integrate the south back into the country and help ex-slaves integrate into society the provided a multitude of services to help the former slaves. “Its greatest accomplishments were in education: more than 1,000 black schools were built and over $400,000 spent to establish teacher-training institutions.” Former slaves were not allowed to have an education in fear that if they learned they would cause an uprising and rebel against their masters and for this reason when slavery was abolished these people were out of a job. Most people during this time period did not have the best education but the most job would require some knowledge. When ex-slaves integrated into society they were not able to contribute due to the lack of education. With the Freedmen’s Bureau they were provided a free education which they can then use to contribute to society. The freedmen’s bureau contributed to giving freedom and equal rights to all people because it helped ex-slaves but also white people down south while rebuilding the south took place and integrating the succeeded countries back into the United States. This was important because there was a set organization that was responsible for the reconstruction period being a success and helped many people along the way. “The Bureau provided food, clothing, medical care, and legal representation; promoted education; helped legalize marriages; and assisted African American soldiers and sailors in securing back pay, enlistment bounties, and pensions.”(The National Museum of African American History and Culture)The bureau provided a safe environment and their main focus. They took care of the ex-slaves and helped them integrate into life after slavery with all the services they provided many slaves were able to continue life outside of slavery they build schools hospitals and shelters. Although their main focus was helping ex-slaves they also provided services that helped the south as a whole they helped impoverished many white people in the south the Freedmen’s Bureau was helping people through the period of reconstruction from 1865 to 1872. The reconstruction period ended in 1877 there is a 5 remaining years that the bureau couldn’t help people due to underfunding. This organization did a lot for the people and the country but with the lack of funding the organization was not able to help more people and help promote and support equality for all. “Less success was achieved in civil rights, for the bureau’s own courts were poorly organized and short-lived, and only the barest forms of due process of law for freedmen could be sustained in the civil courts.” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Freedmens-Bureau) As much as the bureau did they could not change everything wrong with the country after the civil war. The legal system was still a mess and people were not tried to the fullest extent of the law because of this they moved the cases to civil courts.

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sharecropping was a way for old slave masters to still make a profit off of labor and thief crops without it being called slavery, because slaves were now free the former master would rent out housing and let the tenets (usually former slaves) use their tools and seeds and they would pay their landlords with a portion of their crops allowing the landlords to keep the tenets in debt making it harder for them to leave. Sharecropping is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could and ensured they would remain tied to the land and unlikely to leave for other opportunities. (https://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/themes/sharecropping/) Even after slavery was abolished sharecropping was a way for slaves to continue even though it wasn’t called slavery and the workers were paid for their work but they were still under the landlords control and still gotten taken advantage of and with a huge amount of debt they were unable to leave. Landlords lease equipment to the renters, and offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time, the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and how much

High-interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous landlords and merchants often kept tenant farm families severely indebted, requiring the debt to be carried over until the next year or the next. (https://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/themes/sharecropping/) The map of Barrow’s Plantation shows two maps one from 1860 and one from 1881 both maps are of the same plat of land the maps illustrate the effects of the period of reconstruction in the South. In 1860, slaves lived in quarters near the owner’s house giving the owner quick contact and strict control. Only twenty years later, former slaves working as sharecroppers lived away from ‘The House’ on separate plots of land and had their own church and school they lived in a mini town with rivers and creeks available for a source of water and living in separate houses but still closer together than ordinary housing.

Hate crimes are an extreme form of prejudice, prejudice happens more when a social or political change. This leads to the dehumanization of unfamiliar groups and targeted aggression. “Ku Klux Klans riding nightly over the country, going from county to county, and in the county towns, spreading terror wherever they go by robbing, whipping, ravishing, and killing our people without provocation [reason], compelling [forcing] colored people to break the ice and bathe in the chilly waters of the Kentucky river.”(Miscellaneous Documents) The KKK brought terror through the night. They would run throughout the south spreading fear. The would violate the rights of those who were newly freed and those who got in their way. The KKK first began in Tennessee. They had 2 goals They wanted to weaken the Republicans because they fought for civil rights for blacks and they wanted to spread white superiority. The KKK was started by 6 civil war officers, the purpose of the group was to kill and intimidate blacks. The direst in white sheets so they would look like the ghosts of dead confederate soldiers. “They refused to enact any laws to suppress Ku- Klux disorder. We regard them as now being licensed to continue their dark and bloody deeds under cover of the night.” (Miscellaneous Documents) The KKK and other hate groups that appeared during this time period were able to continue their acts of hate because laws were not put in place to stop or protect their victims or any future victims they were practically told they could continue the hate crimes. The newly freed would not have to hide in fear of being killed burned whipped etc. because the hate groups were able to run around with no consequences after kept to a life of slavery and recently freed they were forced to go back to a time of darkness and fear for their lives and families lives because there were white supremacists groups that targeted them for being free. After the Civil War, Reconstruction aimed to reunite the nation. However, organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the White League resisted Reconstruction and terrorized African Americans in the South. In this cartoon by Thomas Nast, a man labeled ‘White League’ is shaking hands with a Ku Klux Klan member over shield with an African American couple with a baby. The baby looks limp indicating that the baby is dead. In the background, a man is hanging from the tree, suggesting he has been lynched. A sign labeled ‘School House’ is surrounded by fire, and a child’s book is lying open on the ground. This image helps paint a picture of the terror that occurred back then people were targeted for going to school voting and living as a free people.

Due to the Freedmen’s Bureau’s efforts in restoring the country and providing a safe country for the ex-slaves, the uprising in sharecropping, and the hate groups that formed during this time, to some extent freedom and equality were created for all Americans. Why Does This Matter? One of the main goals for the north during the civil war was to free the slaves and reconnect the union to the south during the period of reconstruction the country focused on fixing many issues but they were only able to help parts of the issue because the country was not ready to face the issues arose during this time and unfortunately many recently freed people suffered as a result. 

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