Introduction: Sherman Land From the Plantation to the Senate
The Meaning of Freedom • Blacks and the Meaning of Freedom – African Americans’ understanding of freedom was shaped by their experience as slaves and observation of the free society around them. – Blacks relished the opportunity to demonstrate their liberation from the regulations (significant and trivial) associated with slavery.
The Meaning of Freedom • Families in Freedom – The family was central to the postemancipation black community. – Freedom subtly altered relationships within the family. • Emancipation increased the power of black men within the family. • Black women withdrew from work as field laborers and house servants to the domestic sphere.
Family Record, a lithograph marketed to former slaves after the Civil War
The Meaning of Freedom • Church and School – Blacks abandoned white-controlled religious institutions to create churches of their own. – Blacks of all ages flocked to the schools established by northern missionary societies, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and groups of ex-slaves. – 1869: 600,000 Blacks enrolled in schools.
Mother and Daughter Reading, Mt. Meigs
The Meaning of Freedom • Political Freedom – The right to vote became central to the former slaves’ desire for empowerment and equality. – To demonstrate their patriotism, blacks throughout the South organized Fourth of July celebrations.
The Meaning of Freedom • Land, Labor, and Freedom – Former slaves’ ideas of freedom were directly related to land ownership. • Many former slaves insisted that through their unpaid labor they had acquired a right to the land.
The Meaning of Freedom • Masters without Slaves – The South’s defeat was complete and demoralizing. • Planter families faced profound changes. – Most planters defined black freedom in the narrowest manner. **Letter from WFW to Dr. Carter.
Map 15.1 The Barrow Plantation
The Meaning of Freedom • The Free Labor Vision – The victorious Republican North tried to implement its own vision of freedom. • Free labor – The goal of The Freedmen’s Bureau was to establish a working free labor system.
The Meaning of Freedom • The Freedmen’s Bureau (March 1865) – The task of the Bureau—establishing schools, providing aid to the poor and aged, settling disputes, etc.—was daunting, especially since it had fewer than 1,000 agents. – The Bureau’s achievements in some areas, notably education and health care, were striking.
The Freedmen’s Bureau, an engraving from Harper’s Weekly
Black students outside a schoolhouse in a post–Civil War photograph. The teacher is seated at the far right.
The Meaning of Freedom • The Failure of Land Reform – President Andrew Johnson ordered nearly all land
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- Fall '09
- Reconstruction, Ulysses S. Grant, Reconstruction era of the United States, Radical Reconstruction