Chapter 15 - Chapter 15: Reconstruction, 1865-1877 In the...

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Chapter 15: Reconstruction, 1865-1877 In the years following the civil war, former slaves and their white allies, North and South, would seek to redefine the meaning and boundaries of American freedom. Does freedom mean just “the bare privilege of not being chained?” (549) o African-Americans understanding of freedom was shaped by their experiences as slaves and their observation of free society around them. Families in Freedom o Family was central to the post-emancipation black community. o Women began to stay at home to take care of their families, and the men saw it as a badge of honor. This later changed, due to the dire poverty of the black community. Church and School o Blacks abandoned white-controlled religious institutions to build churches of their own. The church was the largest institution independent of white control, and played a central role in the black community. o Black churches were a place of worship, housed schools, social events, and political gatherings. o Black ministers came to play a major role in politics. o Freed blacks had a great desire for education, and many considered it “the next best thing to liberty.” (550) o Much education took place outside the classroom . “I had occasion very frequently to notice that porters in stores and laboring men in warehouses, and cart drivers on the streets, had spelling books with them, and were studying them during the time they were not occupied with their work” (551) Political Freedom o “The right to vote became central to the former slaves’ desire for empowerment and equality.” (551) o Excluding ANY group in a democracy meant “branding them with the ‘stigma of inferiority.’” (552) o Blacks would demonstrate their patriotism by reminding whites of the blood spilled during the war, and organizing Fourth of July celebrations. Land, Labor, and Freedom o “Like rural people throughout the world, former slaves’ ideas of freedom were directly related to land ownership.” (552) o “Many former slaves insisted that through their unpaid labor, they had acquired a right to the land” (552) In some parts of the south in 1865, blacks seized property, insisting that it belonged to them. o “For whites, freedom, no matter how defined, was a given, a birthright to be defended. For African-Americans, it was an open-ended process, a transformation of every aspect of their lives and the society and culture that had sustained slavery in the first place.” (552)
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Masters Without Slaves o White southerners were devastated after the war. Some had placed their life-savings into confederate bonds, and nearly 1/5 of the white male population died in the war. o
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2011 for the course BIO 362 taught by Professor Walikarzai during the Spring '10 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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Chapter 15 - Chapter 15: Reconstruction, 1865-1877 In the...

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