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History 114 – 02
I. Reconstruction: Option 2 “Reconstruction can be summed up this way…”
During reconstruction a major shift took place in our government. With the passing of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments the United States had become a nation pressing toward equality. With the newly granted freedom to learn how to read and write, marry, practice religion, and vote it seemed as if blacks were in store for a better life. However for freed blacks most aspects of life were still heavily influenced by white southerners. Land disputes were among these major issues that freed blacks had to deal with. During the war, Union officers had given seized plantation land to slave refugees for them to settle on while the war was being fought. Upon the war’s end many blacks had become established on small portions of the land and felt they were entitled to it for their past suffering. Few white politicians agreed and in 1865 President Johnson ordered that all seized land be restored to the rightful (white) owner. Although many argue that African Americans had benefitted from reconstruction, the changes that our government had made to benefit freed slaves only lasted while the northerners were present in the south. After their withdrawal, the freedom that was granted to blacks was soon revoked by southern state governments. Many state governments created obscure loop holes to limit the freed black’s ability to live a truly equal life to that of the southern whi...