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The Price Of Power Essay

1041 words - 5 pages

After the four long, blood-stained years of the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era commenced into full force. However, many unresolved issues still lingered in the air, such as how the Southern States would be readmitted into the Union, and how the African Americans would be accepted into society as freedmen. Regarding the latter concern, most whites in the South, and even the North, were reluctant to recognize African Americans as real people, and still stubbornly held on to their pre-emancipation ways of living. The following documents not only confirmed the white man’s unwillingness, but showed more in depth the awful racism African Americans had to experience.
The first ...view middle of the document...

Davis, members of the Ku Klux Klan organization, regarding the murder of Charley Good, who was a strong Republican. What do these three documents have in common? They all point to the white man’s struggle to accept African Americans’ newfound freedom, and their brutal and ridiculous attempts at maintaining superiority.
The “Black Codes of Mississippi” perpetrated many unfair and nonsensical rules. Consider the following: “Every civil officer shall, and every person may, arrest and carry back to his or her legal employer any freedman, free negro, or mulatto who shall have quit the service of his or her employer before the expiration of his or her term of service without good cause.” The code forced African Americans to stick with their employers for the whole length of their contracts. This rule, and the fact that blacks were even required to have contracts, indicated how whites found alternatives to slavery to retain legal control of African Americans’ jobs. Furthermore, the code did not go on to exemplify “good cause,” leaving its definition to be determined by biased white officials, yet another strike against the blacks. Another code allowed African Americans to purchase lands, but prohibited them from being able to rent out or lease that land. Since blacks could not make a profit from renting or leasing land, whites maintained the upper hand in most business and agricultural affairs.
Next, Jourdon Anderson’s letter demonstrated the lengths that former slave owners went to in order to have their slaves, and their power, back in its original place. In the beginning of his letter, Anderson claimed, “Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living.” First of all, his statement was dripping with sarcasm, in a rare use of “slave humor.” Now more than a state’s distance away, and with the confidence of a newfound freedom, Anderson most likely felt safe enough to finally stand up to his old master. Secondly, his old master shot at him before he left, obviously showing that he still wanted to “own” Anderson, and that he would rather...

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