Freedom During Reconstruction for the Freed Slaves

Following the outcome of the Civil War, the Black population formally became free. It means that they were no longer treated as property and gained civil rights, making them eligible for education and paid work. However, the former slaves were still unable to vote, sue, or own land, and the existing freedoms were threatened by those who were unwilling to accept African Americans as equal citizens. Although the new Amendments guaranteed racial equality as far as the male population was concerned, many local laws were enacted to maintain white supremacy, such as the Black Codes.

They could force a vagrant Black person, which was a common phenomenon due to the freed slaves not having money or property, into involuntary labor. Some states also failed to provide protection for African Americans during the Reconstruction era, making them feel unsafe. The inability to testify and be in a jury also prevented Black people from defending their interests legally and witnesses were reluctant to report racially motivated crimes. Thus, the Reconstruction era presented many challenges for the former slaves.

The obstacles described above imply that while the Black population managed to experience freedom, it was extremely limited. The absence of proper protection, the Black Codes, which could force a person into a slave-like state, and the hostile majority, including some Congressmen, made the lives of the freed slaves difficult, despite the Constitution upholding their rights. Black children could go to specially designated schools, but the textbooks taught them that they were inferior to White people. Thus, during Reconstruction, the former slaves’ freedom was feeble and restricted, with the constant reminder that it was not as certain as the one enjoyed by the White population.

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