In 1865, after the Civil War, the long process of Reconstruction began. Congress passed new laws to give African Americans freedom. First, they passed the Thirteenth Amendment which officially ended slavery. Congress then created the Freedmen’s Bureau to help the recently freed slaves. After President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were passed. These amendments guaranteed citizenship to African Americans and suffrage to men of that race. But, they were still put in a state of ‘slavery’.
In the South, Jim Crow Laws were passed thanks to the Supreme Court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson that approved segregation. White southerners took advantage of these new laws. For example, according to a law in North Carolina, the textbooks can’t be shared between different races. That meant that white children have new, neat textbooks while African American children received worn out, ripped textbooks. In Georgia, whites couldn’t even play baseball within 2 blocks from a playground for African American children.
The Democratic Party were supporters of segregation. Some Democrats called Redeemers tried to limit the rights of African Americans. Ways they prevented African American men from voting was by creating poll taxes for them. They wouldn’t be able to pay that tax. They also created literacy tests for them and many of them couldn’t read or write.
African Americans were not just put in a state of ‘slavery’ in the political stage, but in the social scene as well. In 1866, the Ku Klux Klan was formed. This group of white southerners used violence against African Americans and white Republicans. Their goal is to move them away from the polls. According to Wyatt Prince, masked men came to his house and shot him in his right arm, left side and thigh, and below his left knee.
The government let this happen because most of the Democrats were in office in the South. Former Confederate leaders made up some of the politicians. So, that meant the South was turning back to it’s old ways. The federal government also took part in this. The Supreme Court declared segregation constitutional and the General Amnesty Act of 1872 let former Confederates take public office.
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