Miles J Dean
The Movement from… No you can’t!… to…. Yes we can!
Reconstruction (1863/1865-1877) is the period referred to when the government of the United States attempted to resolve the issues of the American Civil War (1861-1865), after the Confederacy was defeated and slavery ended. Reconstruction addressed how secessionist Southern states would return to the Union, the civil status of the leaders of the Confederacy, and the Constitutional and legal status of the Negro Freedmen
After the Civil War the nation had about four million newly freed prisoners of war (enslaved people) (supporting video by Dr. Mitchell). With the exception of Port Royal, S. Carolina where 40, 000 liberated people received 40 acres and in Davis Bend, Miss where 1800 African Americans received the six plantations of Jeff Davis, these newly liberated people were sent out penniless. Eventually, Andrew Johnson would take back the lands which had been given to the liberated. “African Americans were given freedom to hunger, freedom without a roof over their heads or bread to eat, and freedom from land to cultivate…we were given freedom and famine at the same time”1.(supporting audio Dr. M.L. King Jr.)
Yet, even with this onslaught of meaningless freedom, these men and women of African descent went about the task of becoming a part of the fabric of this great country. The former Confederacy was divided into five military districts, amendments were passed, and the Freedman’s Bureau was created to protect freed people's natural rights. In less than a decade African Americans began to enter the political arena as major players only to be, once again, politically betrayed.
In 1876 the Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden and the Republicans nominated Rutherford Hayes. When the election results came in, Samuel Tilden had won the popular vote by 250,000 votes out of a total of 8.5 million votes cast. The electoral vote however was tight, and in three southern states the results were hotly contested- South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. All three were strongly divided between Whites and newly enfranchised African Americans, and between supporters of Reconstruction and those who wished to bring it to an end.
The debate over reconstruction and the Freedman's Bureau was nationwide. This 1866 Pennsylvania election poster alleged that Freedman's Bureau money was being lavished on lazy freedmen at the expense of white workers.
"The Freedman's Bureau" political cartoon
"THE FREEDMAN'S BUREAU! AN AGENCY TO KEEP THE NEGRO IN IDLENESS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE WHITE MAN. TWICE VETOED BY THE PRESIDENT, AND MADE A LAW BY CONGRESS. SUPPORT CONGRESS & YOU SUPPORT THE NEGRO. SUSTAIN THE PRESIDENT & YOU PROTECT THE WHITE MAN."
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hayes agreed to withdraw federal troops from the south and ending reconstruction when he became President. He was selected.
Reconstruction is a part of American history that isn't easy to face. It tells us that we had a moment in our history when our politics broke down, our society broke down, our police power broke down; the government wasn't functioning sufficiently enough to protect one group of citizens from another who simply engaged in wanton vigilante violence of the worst kind. We don't like to face that. We don't even want to know about it. We like to believe we are a society of security and progress and improvement. Reconstruction makes us face an era when we were something else2.
Despite the failure of Reconstruction through political betrayal, African Americans who new that land was the economic base from which to build prosperity began to acquire more and more and engage in meaningful agricultural production and again and again stood fast and overcame adversity. Then, in the 20th century, when the economy began another downward trend and government provided opportunities for farmers to survive through grants and loans the majority of African American farmer needed to file law suits to demand a fair share. (compelling video)
And so, the struggle continues as we the people made in America say yes…we did… and …yes we can…but this must be accomplished by staying mindful that the struggle still continues and don’t just point a child in the right direction but say..follow me
Be at peace.
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To be continued:
1 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Atlanta, Georgia, 8/11/1967, Address to the National Association of Radio Announcers
2 David Blight;