People's Rights

[audio]African Americans Under Congressional Reconstruction

Harper's Weekly Cartoon by Thomas Nast
depicting the plight of African-Americans
during Reconstruction
President Lincoln's Approach to the Freed Slaves

The 10% Plan

  • One problem with Lincoln's 10% Plan was getting the Confederate States to rejoin the United States.
  • A Confederate state was allowed to rejoin the United States if 10% of its voters took an oath of allegiance to the United States.

The 10% Plan and freed slaves

  • Another problem Lincoln's 10% Plan dealt with was what to do with the freed slaves after the Civil War.
  • Under the 10% Plan, each southern state was allowed to make decisions about the treatment of the newly freed slaves as long as the decisions were agreed with the freed slaves condition as a laboring, landless, homeless class.
  • Some people thought it best if the freed slaves left the United States altogether.

13th Amendment

  • The 13th Amendment which banned slavery and involuntary servitude was passed because northern congressmen wanted the freed slaves to be treated decently.
  • Confederate states had to go along with the agreements of the10% Plan or the state would be ruled by Union Army leaders and occupied by Union soldiers.

Black codes

  • Black codes were rules and regulations that restricted the freedom of former slaves.
  • Under the 13th Amendment freed slaves were able to travel around as they pleased.
  • The restrictions placed on freed slaves by black codes: Some states
    a. banned freed slaves from leaving a job, or
    b. from competing with whites for a good paying job.
    c. did not allow former slaves to vote, or
    d. own a gun, or
    e. testify in a court of law against a white person.
    f. jailed unemployed former slaves.


[audio]Congress' Approach to the Freed Slaves

The Freedmen's Bureau

  • Things the Freedmen's Bureau did for some former slaves:
    a. gave land and tools
    b. gave food and clothing
    c. set up more than 100 hospitals
    d. set up 4,300 schools
  • Most people who worked for the Freedmen's Bureau thought their job was repairing the plantation system.

Congressional Reconstruction
Reconstruction was considered a radical plan because it included giving land and providing civil rights to freed slaves.

Civil Rights Act

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed by the radical Republicans : black codes were being passed in the south creating people's rights problems for the former slaves.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1866:
    a. Described the rights freed people would have.
    b. All people born in the United States, excluding Native Americans, were citizens of the United States.
    c. As citizens, freed slaves were eligible for full benefit of all laws.
    d. Former slaves could make contracts.
    e. The federal government was able to protect former slaves if they were denied their rights.

14th Amendment

  • The radical Republicans turned the Civil Rights Act into the 14th Amendment. They feared that the act might get changed in the future by Congress or that the Supreme Court might decide the act to be unconstitutional.
  • The 14th Amendment:
    a. citizenship to all people naturalized or born in the US.
    b. guaranteed equal protection under the law.
    c. penalized states that did not permit former slaves to vote by not counting freed slaves as part of the population of that state.
    d. repayment by the federal government for the money borrowed to fight the Civil War.
    e. no Confederate war debt to be paid by either the federal states governments.
    f. banned those who held office under the Confederate government to serve in the federal government.

[audio]The Reconstruction Act

  • The Republicans passed the Reconstruction Act in 1867 stating that ex-Confederate states had to reapply for admission back into the U.S.

Tenure of Office Act

  • The Tenure of Office Act was passed by the radical Republicans.
  • Presidents needed Senate approval to remove government officials, appointed by the President, from office.
  • Radical Republicans tried to impeach Johnson with violating a federal law.
  • Republicans really wanted Johnson impeached because he was against southern reconstruction.
  • Johnson remained in office after the senate vote for his impeachment was one short of the two-thirds majority needed; he had no more political influence and did not run for reelection.
  • The Tenure of Office Act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court a few years after the impeachment trial of Johnson.

The 15th Amendment

  • Republicans wanted the 15th Amendment passed to obtain the vote of the freed slaves.
  • The 15th Amendment ensures the right to vote to all male citizens of the United States, regardless of color or previous condition of servitude.

African Americans become politicians

  • The 15th Amendment opened the door for the elections of African-Americans to the US Congress and to Southern local and state offices. Segregation means separating by color. New Southern governments began collecting taxes for local public schools.

Summary of Congressional Reconstruction

  • Congressional Reconstruction created more rights for the freed slaves.
  • The economic problems of the freed slaves were not solved by Congressional Reconstruction.


[audio]The South After Congressional Reconstruction

The End of Congressional Reconstruction

The Ku Klux Klan

  • Two groups that opposed African-American citizenship: the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of the White Camellia.
  • These groups burned the homes, churches and schools of African- Americans sometimes beating and killing them.
  • Two reasons that northern support of the former slaves decreased: belief that African-Americans had an education system for their children and a way to defend themselves by using political rights.

The Depression of 1873

  • The Depression of 1873 decreased support for the former slaves, because the federal government had less money that meant less money for federal troop protection in the South.

A confused election

  • Congressional Reconstruction ended in March, 1877 with the end of federal troops in the South, by President Hayes.

[audio]Congressional Reconstruction: Not a Complete Failure

Requirements and trickery at the polls

  • The southern whites used requirements, trickery and violence to prevent former slaves from voting:
    a. residency requirement: have to live in one place for over a year.
    b. literacy requirement: people have to be able to read to vote.
    c. poll taxes: fee for registering to vote.
    d. demonstrate an understanding of the constitution of the state to election officials, who often judged them unacceptable.
    e. large numbers of ballot boxes.
    f. terrorization by white mobs.

Separate but equal

  • The Supreme Court said the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional because the federal government did not have the right to deny privately owned businesses the right to discriminate based on skin color.
  • Plessy vs. Ferguson: states could provide separate transportation service for African-Americans if the service was equal to that of whites.

[audio]African Americans Help Themselves

New towns

  • One way African-Americans tried to help themselves was moving away from the cities and towns of the South with the hope of getting free land and to escape violence.

Vocational schools

  • Vocational education is an education that is arranged to teach specific job skills to an individual.
  • Colonel Armstrong thought vocational education was important for the former slaves because basic reading, writing and arithmetic would not help most of them find work.

Booker T. Washington

  • Booker T. Washington was one of the first pupils to attend Colonel Armstrong's vocational school, receiving a teaching and then a principal position after graduation.
  • Booker T. Washington felt that earning money was more important to the freed slaves than voting (political action).