Were African Americans free during Reconstruction?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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African-Americans were free during Reconstruction. All states had to ratify the 13th amendment that ended slavery. This was a condition for these states to rejoin the United States. However, there were attempts to restrict this freedom during Reconstruction. For example, many states passed laws called the black codes. These laws restricted some of the freedoms of the former slaves. For example, unemployed former slaves could be arrested and fined, and they would have to work for white employers to pay off the fines. Many white landowners wouldn’t rent land to former slaves. Some former slaves weren’t hired and were denied credit at stores. The system of sharecropping kept many former slaves in slavery-like conditions. Also, they were constantly in debt. Finally, the Ku Klux Klan formed. This group terrorized the former slaves. Thus, while slavery ended when the Civil War ended, many former slaves weren’t free economically and politically. They were free, but in reality, that freedom was very limited in some places during Reconstruction.

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