Post Civil War: Reconstructive Era And African Americans

1155 words - 5 pages

The African American during the Reconstruction Era probably felt victorious as well as discomfited. Prior to the Civil war, slaves vehemently hoped freedom would give them the right of equal status in American society, but to their surprise, their dream of an egalitarian America was impeded after the assassination of President Lincoln. Their lives became drastically different and difficult in an era that was increasingly contumacious to their well wishes. The end of the Civil War brought social, moral, economic and political changes within the historical context of Florida’s history. History books have, in general, portrayed Florida as the most progressive southern state in American ...view middle of the document...

We cannot stress the important differences between Presidents during Reconstruction. Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant played important roles in legislating post war policies. After the war, one of the major questions to consider was how to reintegrate the former seceded states back into the Union. Lincoln looked to preserve a united whole, thus he acknowledged that post war policy-making (the dealing of ex-slaves as well) should be enforced by statewide legislation (through his Ten Point Plan), not by Washington -- though the federal government would regulate statewide politics to make sure compliance was met satisfactorily. But northern republicans would not compromise with Lincoln’s plan, and passed the Wade-Davis Bill to counter the President’s Ten-Point Plan which disfranchised southerners who took oath in compliance with the Amnesty Proclamations. Following his assassination, Democrats and Republicans continually battled for legislative power. His former Vice-President did not entirely agree with his political philosophy as Johnson, in agreement with many of the hard nosed northerners, enacted a stronger federal policy toward southern states. For instance, under Johnson, “all-white” provisional governors were assigned to southern states in order to keep ex-confederates in line, and make sure that they drafted new constitutions congruent with the federal one; his policies were more negatively ardent toward former confederate states. Johnson would go on to declare martial law in uncompromising states at the advice of Northern Radical’s, though the inclination was more out of political rivalry than to benefit former slaves. His anti-democrat policies affected racial relations in many southern states including Florida. So federal and revised state legislatures, once embracing the 14th Amendment, started a conflict with the conservatives in the south.
How did political reorganization occur in Florida and did slaves help with the reconstructive process? Were they overjoyed by the changing climate or were African Americans afraid of what was to come? It is undoubed that upon hearing the Emancipation Proclamation many former slaves in Florida rejoiced. They may have celebrated that a ‘new America’ would now accommodate to their needs. Would it last? According to Kevin Emmett Kearney, Floridians were willing to compromise by accepting “negro” rights during the reign of Johnson’s elected provisional governor William Marvins (1865). Similarly, William Watson Davis reported that Marvins preached legal acceptance for former slaves. For,”unless the negro finds protection in the courts of justice he...

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