During Reconstruction how was freedom expanded or contracted for various groups of people?
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During Reconstruction, two groups of people in particular had their freedoms change. In both cases, the level of freedom they enjoyed changed over the course of the era.
For African Americans, the early part of Reconstruction was a time of unprecedented freedom. Of course, they were newly freed from slavery. In addition, they were given such rights as the right to vote and to participate in politics. Sadly, their levels of freedom declined as Reconstruction went along and became weaker.
A second group that had its freedom affected was the white Southern elite. Early in Reconstruction, they had less freedom than before. Some of them lost their citizenship rights. All of them lost their place as unquestioned leaders of their society. As Reconstruction wore on, however, this group took back more and more of its freedoms. Its freedom to act contracted and expanded in a mirror image of the changes that happened to African Americans.
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