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Freedom We Heard Through The Grapevine

1424 words - 6 pages

African Americans were no longer slaves and had freedom in the country after the American civil war but they weren’t truly free. Groups and organizations such as Northerners and Southerners and a government system seemed too keep freedmen locked in a slavery cycle. With laws, traditional viewpoints and an existing system that was broken caused difficulties for slaves to be truly free..
When the civil war ended the government system as well as citizens now had to deal with the issues of how too handle newly free slaves. Northerners who fought against slavery and Southerners who were for slavery had see slaves as free individuals in society, which was never seen before. Northern Unionists lectured and pressured freed men into essentially thinking their way. The result of these lectures were counter intuitive towards freedmen assimilation. Instead of an educational experience it was more of slaves being talked down too. They were told that they always work for someone and be dependent; this essentially meant that they weren’t really free. The following two quotes are from a lecture by Captain Charles Soule who was a respected Northern Unionist who was giving a lesson on work ethic to recent ex-slaves. “Every man must work under orders.”1 Soule is telling people who just gained freedom that they will always work under someone and be dependent. The goal of being free was too break away from dependency and be able to work for yourself; Soule takes those dreams away and says they will never be independent. Soule goes further into the lecture and directly reasserts the identity of were better than you theory. “There must be a head man everywhere, and on a plantation the head man, who gives all the orders, is the owner of the place...Whatever the order is, try and obey it without a word...”2 Soule reaffirms that they will always work for someone and then brings up memories of being a slave. Soule choice of words were meant to create a clear distinction between freedmen and whites, he reaffirms past social acceptances. Soule also finishes with the; always follow the order and don't question it, bringing it back too slavery once again; those who were slaves weren’t aloud to question there masters for anything. He is implying that they will always be owned by someone and will always be dependent. To make matters worse the system that was in place before the war does little to change other than to complicate things.
The system in place was a maze of convoluted laws and social norms that made it nearly impossible for free slaves too gain any real freedoms. Owning land has always been a symbol of freedom throughout history. During this time good land was already taken and land that wasn't was either useless or not fully developed which made it incredibly difficult for freemen to establish a comfortable living condition in society. There were options but those involved being sucked back into the slave / indentured servant cycle. The biggest option that...

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