Running head: AMERICA’S POST-CIVIL WAR GROWING 1
America’s Post-Civil War Growing Pains
Zarick L. Robinson
Contemporary U.S. History – Assignment #1
July 18, 2013
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The United States experienced many growing pains during the time period of 1865 to 1900 but I’d like to focus on two major historical points that impacted my family and certain Asian friends. African-Americans were not the only ones to experience prejudice as I brought out above, however, they were the main ones targeted when ...view middle of the document...
This is truly a paradox. How could something so disliked today have been so widespread during the late 1800s to early 1900s? Researchers struggle to define prejudice. Some say it is “a negative attitude or feeling toward an individual based solely on that individual’s membership in a certain group.” Others say that this attitude is based on “insufficient information,” which leads to the “prejudgment of members of a group.” Whatever the case, prejudices can be formed
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against another person because of his race, weight, gender, language, religion, or virtually any perceived difference.
In the South the Reconstruction period was a time of readjustment accompanied by disorder. Southern whites wished to keep African Americans in a condition of quasi-servitude, extending little civil rights and firmly rejecting social equality. African Americans, on the other hand, wanted full freedom and, above all, land of their own. Inevitably, there were frequent clashes. Some erupted into race riots, but acts of terrorism against individual African American leaders were more common (Schultz, 2012).
During this turmoil, Southern whites and blacks began to work out ways of getting their farms back into operation and of making a living. Indeed, the most important developments of the Reconstruction era were not the highly publicized political contests but the slow, almost imperceptible changes that occurred in Southern society. African Americans could now legally marry, and they set up conventional and usually stable family units; they quietly seceded from the white churches and formed their own religious organizations, which became centers for the African American community. Without land or money, most freedmen had to continue working for white masters; but they were now unwilling to labor in gangs or to live in the old slave quarters under the eye of the plantation owner (Schultz, 2012).
Sharecropping gradually became the accepted labor system in most of the South—planters, short of capital, favored the system because it did not require them to pay cash wages; African Americans preferred it because they could live in individual cabins on the tracts they rented and because they had a degree of independence in choosing what to plant and how to cultivate. The section as a whole, however, was desperately poor throughout the Reconstruction
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era; and a series of disastrously bad crops in the late 1860s, followed by the general agricultural depression of the 1870s, hurt both whites and blacks.
The governments set up in the Southern states under the congressional program of Reconstruction were, contrary to traditional clichés, fairly honest and effective. Though the period has sometimes been labeled “Black Reconstruction,” the Radical governments in...