Chapter 15: "What Is Freedom?": Reconstruction, 1865-1877A. Blacks and the Meaning of Freedom 1. African-Americans’ understanding of freedom was shaped by their experience as slaves and observation of the free society around them 2. Blacks relished the opportunity to demonstrate their liberation from the regulations, significant and trivial, associated with slavery B. Church and School 1. The family was central to the post- Emancipation black community 2. Freedom subtly altered relationships within the family a. Black women withdrew to their private sphere 3. The rise of the independent black church, with Methodists and Baptists commanding the largest followings, redrew the religious map of the South a. Black ministers came to play a major role in politics 4. Blacks of all ages flocked to the schools established by northern missionary C. Political Freedom 1. The right to vote inevitably became central to the former slaves’ desire for empowerment and equality a. Being denied suffrage meant “the stigma of inferiority” 2. To demonstrate their patriotism, blacks throughout the South organized July 4th celebrations D. Land, Labor, and Freedom 1. Former slaves’ ideas of freedom were directly related to land ownership a. Many former slaves insisted that through their unpaid labor, they had acquired a right to the land E. Masters without Slaves 1. The South’s defeat was complete and demoralizing a. Planter families faced profound changes 2. Most planters defined black freedom in the narrowest manner
a. Freedom was defined as a privilege, not a right F. The Free Labor Vision 1. The victorious Republican North tried to implement its own vision of freedom a. Free labor 2. The Freedmen’s Bureau was to establish a working free-labor system G. The Freedman’s Bureau 1. The task of the Bureau was daunting 2. The Bureau’s achievements in some areas, notably education and health care, were striking H. The Failure of Land Reform1. Blacks wanted land of their own, not jobs on plantations 2. President Andrew Johnson ordered nearly all land in federal hands returned to its former owners 3. Because no land distribution took place, the vast majority of rural freed people remained poor and without property during Reconstruction I. Toward a New South 1. Sharecropping came to dominate the cotton South and much of the tobacco belt 2. Sharecropping initially arose as a compromise between blacks’ desire for land and planters’
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- Spring '14
- Reconstruction, American Civil War, Southern United States, Ulysses S. Grant, Reconstruction era of the United States