Reconstruction Memoir ERIC CHONG

The North may have won the Civil War, but it can be argued that the South won the Reconstruction period. During Reconstruction, the North tried many different things to repair and change the South including new ideas and rules. To what extent did the new laws and programs that came during Reconstruction affect the social standings of freed African Americans? Although some may argue that the newly created laws and amendments to help African Americans was a step forwards in true equality, the Social Standings of freed African Americans did not change or got worse. The South counteracted the laws with their own rules such as the Black Codes.

The 14th Amendment was a successful step forwards equality for all African Americans. It was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" which included people such as the newly freed slaves. The 14th amendment also made sure to include the fact that states cannot deny any person "life, liberty, or property without due process of law" to set a standard and prevent states from monopolizing on their power. This was a success that took place during this era as its been used in the argument for the civil rights of African Americans.
The Freedmen's Bureau was created by Congress to aid former slaves with education, medical care, and food. It was also used to help newly freed slaves receive proper wages and be able to freely choose their employer. Unfortunately this also resulted in Southern legislative creating their own subset of rules to prevent African Americans from rising up from their original position on the social ladder, and to have them keep providing cheap or even free labor. These Black Codes were made specifically for African Americans, and restricted their pay, choice of employer, forced them to work for little or no pay, and restricted other things such as the right to marry each other. This is an example of a failure in Reconstruction, where the freed African Americans were no better off than before because of the Black Codes.
The 15th Amendment was created by Congress on February 3rd, 1870. It stated that any citizen could not be restricted from voting regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Allowing African Americans the chance to vote meant that they could also help their case on a larger scale. By voting for people that supported African Americans and their fight for equality, they could make a bigger effect. This represents the legacy of the era as even though there were so many restrictions placed on African Americans such as the Black Codes, the 15th Amendment gave them a tool to help pull themselves closer to equality.

In the end, although African Americans were freed, they still suffered from the same consequences such as being forced to work against their will and not having the same freedoms as their white counterparts. The fight for equality and freedom was mirrored in the Women's Suffrage movement in the 20th century, where women also fought to be equal, for voting rights and better working conditions. Many of the same issues that freed African Americans faced during Reconstruction were the same ones that women had to fight during the Suffrage Movement.

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