A new beginning...
The Reconstruction Era, was the time just after the Civil War ended when the United States was trying to recover from war and learn how to get along again. Slaves were free, but what could they do? The 13th-15th amendments were passed to help them gain their rights, but then the Jim Crow laws came about, which kept many blacks from being able to use those rights until the Civil Rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's.
Sharecropping replaces Slavery
Slaves became free after the Civil War, however, what could they do? Many of them began working for the plantation owners again, this time not as slaves. These former slaves still had a very tough life. Sharecroppers often had to give 50% of their profit from farming to the landowner. Each year, sharecroppers would make just enough money to survive, but not enough to get ahead. You can get a more advanced description of sharecropping here. I also highly recommend you read the book "Roll of Thunder , Here My Cry," by Mildred Taylor. This would be a great book to read with you mom or dad.
Jim Crow Laws
The Jim Crow laws were laws which began at the end of Reconstruction (1870's) and kept blacks from using the rights guaranteed by the 13th-15th amendments. The phrase most commonly associated with the Jim Crow Laws is "separate but equal." People said they were still giving blacks "equal" rights, but they were just giving them those rights while keeping them separate from whites. They were not treated equally.
- Visit the PBS site to learn more about Jim Crow.
- Learn some more specifics about the Jim Crow laws at this university website.
- The video below gives a quick history of the origins of Jim Crow.
The Freedmen's Bureau was an organization that was created after the American Civil War to help freed slaves. The Bureau helped former slaves find lost family members, gain land, get an education, get health care and provide legal help in regards to work contracts with white land owners. You can learn more about the Freedman's Bureau here. I also highly recommend the book "40 Acres and Maybe a Mule," which is the story of several freed slaves and their quest for land ownership. They have several encounters with the Freedmen's Bureau. You may read this book in your reading class.
13th - 15th Amendments
Thank you to Jonathan Feicht
My colleague, Jonathan Feicht helped me with this format and website. A lot of the information, pictures, links and videos are borrowed from his website. Visit www.jonathanfeicht.com to see more.