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From PBS about the condition of the free blacks in the North and the South During and After the Civil War

What Happened to the Former Slaves?


       In that raging year of Lincoln’s election and Southern secession, there were a total of 488,070 free blacks living in the United States, about 10 percent of the entire black population. Of those, 226,152 lived in the North and 261,918 in the South, in 15 states (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas) plus the District of Columbia. Let me break that down further: A few months before the Confederacy was born, there were 35,766 more free black people living in the slave-owning South than in the North, and removing D.C. from the equation wouldn’t have shifted the result. And they stayed there during the Civil War. 


       Slavery effectively ended in the U.S. in the spring of 1865 when the Confederate armies surrendered. All slaves in the Confederacy were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, which stipulated that slaves in Confederate-held areas were free. Slaves in the border states and Union-controlled parts of the South were freed by state action or (on December 6, 1865) by the Thirteenth Amendment. The full restoration of the Union was the work of a highly contentious postwar era known as Reconstruction.

        The war produced about 1,030,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease. The war accounted for roughly as many American deaths as all American deaths in other U.S. wars combined. The causes of the war, the reasons for its outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of lingering contention today. About 4 million black slaves were freed in 1861–65. Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% in the North and an extraordinary 18% in the South.  About 56,000 soldiers died in prisons during the Civil War. 


         Northern leaders agreed that victory would require more than the end of fighting. It had to encompass the two war goals: secession had to be repudiated and all forms of slavery had to be eliminated. They disagreed sharply on the criteria for these goals. They also disagreed on the degree of federal control that should be imposed on the South, and the process by which Southern states should be reintegrated into the Union.
         Reconstruction, which began early in the war and ended in 1877, involved a complex and rapidly changing series of federal and state policies. The long-term result came in the three Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution: the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment, which extended federal legal protections equally to citizens regardless of race; and the Fifteenth Amendment, which abolished racial restrictions on voting. Reconstruction ended in the different states at different times, the last three by the Compromise of 1877.


Information from Social Studies Help at:  http://www.socialstudieshelp.com/lesson_37_notes.htm

         The end of the Civil War and the Reconstruction of the South attempted to address some of the social concerns of the freed slaves but in reality could do very little to make blacks economically and politically equal to whites. In fact, there was never any intention of making blacks equal. The results of slavery and lingering racism were devastating.


A. What economic problems did newly freed slaves face?

1. They had no education and could not read or write as a result of the Slave Codes.

2. Job opportunities were extremely limited.

3. Often the only skills a freed slave had was in farming and even then they usually only knew how to do the manual labor, not the actual running of a farm.

4. Freed slaves had no money, clothing, etc.

B. What types of jobs did freedmen take?

1. Sharecropping - Many freed slaves remained on their plantations and worked as sharecroppers. In this arrangement landowners (former plantation owners) also had no money to hire workers so what they would do is allow a freed slave to work the land and give a portion of the harvest to the landowner. The portion was usually quite high and it was difficult for the freeman to save enough to to sell on his own. In theory a sharecropper could save enough money to buy some mules and eventually rent the land but this was rare.

2. Tenant Farming - Some sharecroppers actually made enough to begin renting the land. This was known as tenant farming. Certainly this was better than 'cropping but they still struggled to make ends meet.

C. Who do you think they could turn to find some relief from this emotional burden??

Join black Methodist and Baptist Churches that had Evangelical roots. Use spiritual song and gospel; they were the forerunner of Southern Baptist churches. AME - African Methodist Episcopal Church sent missionaries to the south immediately after the war. Membership increased from 70,000 to 390,000.

D. What needed to be done to help blacks reenter society?

1. Freedmen's Bureau - created as a part of the Reconstruction Act, it was a Federal agency designed to provide food, clothes and shelter for freed slaves and whites in need.

2. Education - black and white school teachers came south and began to teach the freed slaves. Booker T. Washington said "It was a whole race going to school. Few were too young and none were too old."

E. How successful was reconstruction in creating real economic freedom?

Not very much. many called sharecropping and tenant farming economic slavery because it still kept freedmen subservient to whites and at their whim.

F. What would be the ultimate level of achievement for a freedman?

1. Election to the government - sixteen blacks elected to Congress, 2 senators and 14 reps. Hiram Revels, a Senator, took Jefferson Davis' spot from Mississippi the other Senator from Mississippi was also black, a former slave who has escaped from Virginia before the war - Blanche Bruce.

G. How do you think most southerners reacted to reconstruction?

Supremacist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of the White Camelia were formed . Some originally warned blacks not to vote, then turned violent.

H. How did groups like the Klan effect reconstruction?

1. Southerners may have had to live with blacks but they sure didn't like it and they sure were not going to treat them as equals. What came to exist in the south was a segregated society, or one where the races are separated. This was not originally law (though it later came to be) and is thus referred to as de facto segregation or segregation by the fact that it exists.

2. White supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan worked to keep freed slaves in politically and economically deprived conditions. Look at the inscriptions at the top of the cartoon. It says "The Union As It Was" and "This Is A White Man's Government." The KKK wanted to keep Blacks out of government and prevent them from voting.

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