The post-civil war era in America brought with it significant changes especially in the field of writing. The war changed how the writers wrote and their perspectives. It was in this era that writers began using new literary devices in their writing and questioned their beliefs about the effects of the war. Black Reconstruction in America is an essay written at the post civil war time by W.E.B. Du Bois. The author believes that the blacks played a big role in the attempt of rebuild the United States democracy. This paper will analyze the essay by W.E.B. Du Bois and the fact that blacks led to the reconstruction of democracy in America.
W.E.B. Du Bois is one of the essayists that begun writing after the American civil war. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a prominent American writer born in 1868, in Massachusetts. He lived with his family in a small town known as Great Barrington, received a local education. Du Bois primary aim in teaching and career was to get blacks equal rights in the society. He is the first black man in history to graduate with a Ph.D. in 1895 from Harvard University. Du Bois has written several books that gained national publicity they include: John Brown, Autobiography of W. E. B. Dubois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century, The Souls of Black Folks, W. E. B. Du Bois on Sociology and the Black Community, W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and the City: The Philadelphia black person and its Legacy and the Black Reconstruction in America.
Summary of the essay
The Black reconstruction in America was simply an account of the events that happened after the civil war in America. However, this report put much emphasis on the black mans experience during this historical era (Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt). Du Bois also highlights some of the major significant changes that took place in regards to classes and the economies that emerged in the period of reconstruction. The reconstruction led to the separation of the blacks and the whites in the United States. They still maintained their regular jobs but instead did their duties separately and far from the white settlements. It was a movement that saw to the end of the revolt system making the whites gain control of the government, take up political power and create segregation rules against the blacks. Despite the evil nature of the reconstruction strategy, it brought with it some good to the blacks in the southern part of the states. For example, a public education system was created for the blacks.
In the essay, several ideas are brought forward about the necessity of the reconstruction. Freedom was the major talk after the civil war, as blacks were granted freedom from their masters (Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt). Debates in Congress spoke of restitution to the blacks for their service in the country. An agreement was reached, and the black families received 40 acres of land a mules that were exhausted and had no use to the army (Itzigsohn, Jose). The black people were happy as many of their population gained freedom and settled in their lands. They hoped that this would be a start for their freedom towards economic sovereignty. The laws that were created during this period saw that the blacks were given some freedom. This included property ownership, legalized marriages nada cess to courts. However they were still denied significant rights like they could not get formal employment, interracial marriages were prohibited and were not allowed to carry unlicensed firearms. The blacks though free were still slaves to the free states. They called it slavery without a chain.
Du Bois also talk about the gender reconstruction in his book. So many women before the civil war had tried to bring an end to slavery (Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt). Christian women from the North joined the movement out of Christianity convictions on humanity and morality. After the civil war, women found that it was their chance to reinforce their constitutional freedom of both sex and race. During this era, women from both racers faced a lot of restrictions. For example, women did not receive the same pay as their male counterparts; employment opportunities were minimal and strict and were prohibited from obtaining divorce orders. In 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony formed an organization for the black and white women named American Equal Rights Association. This group's aim was to reduce the laws that barred women from their civil and equal rights. There were hurdles especially with the fourteenth and the fifteenth amendment that led to a split of the women's association.
They later merge to form National American women suffrage organization which saw that women were granted their rights to vote (Itzigsohn, Jose). The laws allowed only the unmarried women to vote at the local elections. The womens movement played a significant role in reconstructing the gender bias in the American society. Women by the year 1875 enrolled to schools in large numbers. The blacks, however, did not gain admissions in the central and large institutions in the states; they instead formed their schools. The Bennet College in Greensboro, North Carolina was a school that was dedicated to educating freed slaves. Women began taking more prominent roles in politics like Susanna M Slater became the first woman mayor in the United States. The womens Christian temperature Union (WCTU) become the main organizations that took participate roles in changing the plight of women. The WCTU grew in the subsequent years, and the women were granted their civil rights in the twentieth amendment.
The law department also faced its reconstruction ideas during this face. In a bid to preserve the changes made in the civil rights bill, the Republicans passed the fourteenth amendment in 1866. The bill stated that every person born in the United States was a citizen of the country. The federal government decided it will prosecute all the state that would breach the immunities and privileges of the citizens, deny citizens equal protections about the law requirements or deny people their right to life and property (Itzigsohn, Jose). However, President Johnson tried to oppose the bill of rights passed because he believed that the blacks did not deserve any rights as citizens. His other reason for objection was because he did not want the federal extension into matters of the law. Before the civil war the United States was referred to as these United States; however, the federal government brought a balance of power by the government and renamed the country to the United States of America. The fourteenth amendment allowed the Congress to pass laws to effect and to ensure that the laws enforced the fourteenth amendment.
During the Reconstruction era, American terrorist organizations emerged with the aim of undermining and disrupting the restoration process. This was because most whites saw that it was a loss to them when the government tried to empower the blacks through education, equality, and politics. Some of the groups that emerged include the Ku Klux Klan, the Red Shirts and the Knights of the Camellia. These groups were formed to maintain and enhance the old social order that praised white supremacy. The democratic political members decided to use violence as means to eliminate both blacks and whites that supported reconstruction. The criminal groups members were some of the elite members of the society like doctors, politicians, farmers, and lawyers. The government sought the intervention of the federal officers to put a stop to the terrorist's groups so that the reconstruction period could be over. However, the attacks worsened, and the most gruesome occurred in 1873 in Colfax Louisiana. White men entered the small town with canon weapons and killed many freed black people and close to fifty who surrendered to their order. The segregation rules followed and were more rampant in the north. It led to the separation of blacks from the whites in all areas of their lives. The reconstruction failed because the government continually refused to give land to the freed slaves. The terrorism and violence that sprung in the country aimed at destroying black people equality and coercion of black manual labour led to the fall of the reconstruction.
The black reconstruction by Du Bois was a message that sought to attack the white men who denied the black population their equal rights. The message in the book gave a clear insight and understanding into the social conflict that existed in the American society before industrialization. This essay also provides an excellent interpretation of the origin of the capitalism in America and the social struggle. It is also a message that boldly rejected the racial bias and inferiority of the African American people. For example, the tree chapters that open the book talks about the psychological dependency on the white men, economical lag, and ignorance. Du Bois message in the reconstruction was an attempt to correct documented history but also served as a critique of the western philosophy. He tried to show that the following men were the major factors that led to the reconstruction attempt and democracy in the states. He also sought to correct the Marxist theories that existed about slavery. Du Bois tried to show that the Slaves were workers who struggled to get their civil rights and also improve their working conditions. Du Bois states that the slave revolution did not begin on its own. The American civil war led to the climax of freedom for the slaves. It is during this period that the slave found the opportunity to run away, revolt against their masters and sabotage the produce of their masters. He also acknowledges that these events were not an accident, but a clear plan and strategy of politics. These events forced President Lincoln to start a movement to end slavery. Du Bois introduces a new perspective on the American civil war. He states that it was not a war between the States of America but a revolt by the slaves to find the freedom they deserved.
This book showed how the American history has been changed and because of shame. For example, the southern part of America was ashamed because it lends a hand to human slavery and the north was embarrassed because they needed the help of the black people to end slavery and save the democracy of the country. The message was an attempt to educate the public about the role the black race played to bring democracy and the labor reforms in the country today.
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. Black Reconstruction in America: Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880. Transaction Publishers, 2013.
Itzigsohn, Jose. "Class, Race, and Emancipation: The Contributions of The Black Jacobins and Black Reconstruction in America to Historical Sociology and Social Theory." The CLR James Journal 19.1/2 (2013): 177-198.
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