The era of Reconstruction was the turning point in Black History. This period started right after the end of the Civil War and introduced former slaves to the unprecedented level of freedom. Since 1866, African Americans have been enjoying the protection of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, which provided them with civil rights. They became free from slavery as well as gained the right to vote and get involved in politics. Their lives changed dramatically as they started attending schools, founding new communities, and participating in public life.

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The Reconstruction reshaped the political landscape of 19th-century America. Thanks to the Fifteenth Amendment, African Americans gained the right to vote and be elected as governmental representatives on all levels. Consequently, the predominantly Black areas started electing Black politicians to local governments, and these politicians made attempts to secure civil rights for their constituents. In South Carolina, for example, the vast African American population managed to achieve the Black majority in the state legislature. As a result, the state assembly altered the South Carolina constitution and passed laws that ensured male franchise and civil rights for all races and support of public education.

Unfortunately, it was not that easy for Black politicians to win elections to legislatures and contribute to their communities. They had to compete with white candidates, and Caucasian legislators were reluctant to work with them. Also, African American politicians could not stop the political system from trying to establish control over the lives of former slaves. Local, state, and federal governments were passing numerous laws that concerned activities of Black people. In some cases, these laws were useful to newly freed individuals because they aimed to protect them from exploitation and frauds. For example, some laws envisioned labor contracts for Black workers. Nevertheless, the majority of laws in relation to freedman aimed to limit their freedoms and rights granted by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. It was not surprising because of the long history of institutionalized racism that had been shaping Americans’ views on social justice and civil rights for centuries.

These articles indicate that although the 19th-century America supported the concept of civil rights, it was wary of the emancipation of Blacks, and not all Americans were ready to accept them as full-fledged citizens of the U.S. On the one hand, many people were eager to help freedmen to start a new life. It is known that monetary contributions from charity organizations were used to pay about 14,000 teachers who provided education to approximately 150,000 African Americans. Several Ohioans founded Wilberforce University, which aimed to end racial discrimination and treat all staff and students equally regardless of their race. At the same time, the articles indicate that many white Southerners were dissatisfied with the Black emancipation. It was especially true for young white men from the South who felt politically and financially humiliated by their defeat in the Civil War. The movement of Ku Klux Klan emerged as the symbolic attempt to reestablish the old concepts of white manhood and dominance over African Americans. Their actions, deeply rooted in the popular culture of that time, gained significant support from Southerners. Therefore, it would be naïve to claim that the whole nation welcomed the end of slavery and the emancipation of Blacks.

Overall, the Reconstruction era enabled the freedmen to have their representatives in legislatures, who worked hard to secure the civil rights of people of color. Despite their attempts to do so, they faced the resistance of the political system, which passed laws aimed to restrict the rights of freedmen. Although many Americans supported the African American emancipation, many white Southerners resisted it and wished to restore their dominance over people of color.