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American Society Since 1865

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American Society Since 1865

12:30-1:45 M/R

Danielle Garlinn Bush

1865 the end of slavery, the period of reconstruction for African Americans, the new beginning, the time of Jubilee. After four long, bloody years of civil war, the armies of the North and South slogged through battle. Toward the end of the war, Union armies smashed across the South, leaving wreckage in their wake: shelled building, ravaged farms, and twisted railroads tracks. Slavery- the dominant economic and social institution in many parts of the South- collapsed. (Berkin: Reconstruction)

African Americans took many roles to insure that their freedom in 1865 would not be short lived. Many freed people took advantage of this new opportunity of freedom to leave the place that had held them for so long, one freed woman said, "If I stay here I'll never know I'm free." Not all freed people felt the need to remove themselves from the place some called home. Indeed, some felt they had to leave the site of their enslavement to experience full freedom. Andy Anderson (former slave), refused to work for his last owner, not because he had anything against him but because he wanted "to take my freedom." (Berkin: Reconstruction) Think in the mind set of someone from that time period, I believe I would have had to just leave. The thought of being free but staying in the place where I saw friends and family member raped, killed, and beaten would not be my ideal place to make a new beginning. That's why many freedmen took proactive roles to improve their condition after they had gained their freedom in 1865.

Making a new community was one of the main goals of freedmen. This didn't just mean homes, stores, and farms, but also schools. Education was something that all slaves looked for, but now that they are free education was the first thing on their minds. Given the relationship between freedmen and the north, support was there to help freedmen start over. Northern reformers tried to assist the transition from slavery to freed, many of them focused on education. The Freedmen's Bureau played an important role in organizing and equipping schools. Freedmen's Aid Societies also sprang up in most northern cities and, along with northern churches, collected funds and supplies for the freed people. Teachers, mostly white women, often from New England, and often acting on religious impulses, came from the North. Northern aid societies and church organizations, together with the Freedmen's Bureau, established schools to train black teachers. (Berkin: Reconstruction) By 1870, The Freedmen's Bureau supervised more than 4000 schools, with more than 9000 teachers and 247000 students. Still, in 1870, only one-tenth of school-age black children were in school. African Americans created



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