History - Coursework Example

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History

Slaves were assigned a first name only, and after Reconstruction, many of them took on new names, as did Lewis Evans, who said “the white folks gave me a new name”. America missed the opportunity to create a multiracial society. First, Lincoln missed that chance by legitimizing pro-Union governments in the South that only allowed white men to vote. After Lincoln was assassinated, the new President, Andrew Johnson, took power. He was extremely racist, saying “Damn the negroes” (textbook, 474). As someone with a class chip on his shoulder, Johnson quickly returned the southern states to the Union, allowing them to enforce Black Codes of law that kept African Americans without property, and with very few legal rights. The former slave narratives include the story of Henry “Happy Day” Green, Sarah Gray, Lewis Evans and Measy Hudson. Henry Green reports that he voted. The right to vote was an important symbol of freedom. Sarah Gray’s voice did not come through in the interview, perhaps because of the interviewer, Minnie Ross’s, condescending attitude: “ [it gave] her as much pleasure as a child playing with a favorite toy”. All that Miss Ross seems to have found out is that Sarah Gray thought she was well-treated in slavery. Lewis Evans speaks of his house, and garden lot, his own land on which he raises a garden and chickens. ...Show more

Summary

American Slave Narratives Freedom to the former slaves meant land ownership, which former slaves believed was an important stepping-stone to achieving equality to the white man. Freedom also meant having a new place to work. Even when their former owners offered them the chance to “stay on” at higher wages, some former slaves said no…
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