Reconstruction Impact on America

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by bwetherwax
Last updated 5 years ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
American History
Grade:
8,9,10,11,12

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Reconstruction Impact on America

Impact of Reconstruction on the United States

"Strange Fruit," by Billie Holiday clearly explains racial hatred in the south during the early 1900's.

Immediately following the Civil War, African Americans were freed from slavery, obtained citizenship, guaranteed the right of life, liberty and property, as well as the right to vote. Although African Americans received many new freedoms after the Civil War, southern states figured out loopholes to continue white supremacy. Southern states began creating black codes. Black codes was slavery all over again with a different name. For example, "Black servants had to reside on the employer’s property, remain quiet and orderly, work from sunup to sunset except on Sundays, and not leave the premises or receive visitors without the master’s permission. Masters could “moderately” whip servants under 18 to discipline them. Whipping older servants required a judge’s order. Time lost due to illness would be deducted from the servant’s wages. Servants who quit before the end date of their labor contract forfeited their wages and could be arrested and returned to their masters by a judge’s order" (http://www.crf-usa.org/brown-v-board-50th-anniversary/southern-black-codes.html).

After African Americans received the right to vote, many black politicians were able to gain political office. "During Reconstruction, some 2,000 African Americans held public office, from the local level all the way up to the U.S. Senate, though they never achieved representation in government proportionate to their numbers" (http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/black-leaders-during-reconstruction). To maintain white supremacy, radicals in Tennessee created the Ku Klux Klan. This organization was designed to scare African American voters, politicians and white supporters of black rights. The KKK would gained much support from the Democratic Party. By 1876, the Democratic Party dominated southern politics, allowing for white supremacy to continue throughout the late 1800's through the mid 1900's.

To maintain white supremacy, sharecropping was used extensively in the south. Under this system, people who did not own land, paid rent to use land for farming and received a small amount of the profit from the crop. Although the system seemed fair, most contracts were written to strongly support the owner of the land, making it extremely difficult for the sharecropper to get out of debt. If unable to pay off their debt, the sharecropper would be bound to the land for another year. This constant cycle would keep most sharecroppers on the same land for many years.


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