Fredrick Douglass

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade August 2001

download word file, 1 pages 0.0

During the Reconstructive Era, following the Civil War, Fredrick Douglass believed, "Our reconstruction measures were radically defective"¦.To the Freedmen was given the machinery of liberty, but there was denied to them the steam to put it into motion." Douglass, like many black Americans, contended that although freedom was gained, freedmen were given inadequate help and protection from the U.S. government.

After gaining freedom, freedmen spent the first month searching for a "missing spouse, parent, or child, sold away years before," hoping to rebuild families after years of being denied this right. Additionally, freedom "meant getting married legally"¦.Legal marriage was important morally, but it all served such practical purposes as"¦.gaining access to land titles and other economic opportunities." However, freedmen would soon realize that gaining rights to owning land and prospering from growing crops would become a difficult task to accomplish.

Many freedmen expected a new economic system, which in turn would compensate them for years of involuntary servitude.

Most freedmen believed that they were entitled to receive forty acres of land and a mule. In addition, freedmen held high expectation for education. Like whites, blacks wanted the same opportunities of learning to read and write. "Once they obtained land, reunited families, and education, they looked forward to civil rights and the vote." All these expectations were met with vicious hostility from Southerners.

In the attempt to reestablish white dominance, the state legislatures implemented "black codes." The codes, limited equal rights to the newly freed black Americans. While the "black codes" granted the "freedmen the right to marry, sue and be sued, testify in court, and hold property"¦.Some rights were denied, including racial intermarriage and the right to bear arms"¦.be on city streets at night, or congregate in large groups." Other laws passed by state legislature, forced many freedmen back into slavery. It became unlawful to be unemployed without a contract to a white landowner. As a result, the U.S. government failed to protect freedmen from the continual dominance of Southern whites.