Knowledge in American History

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One of the most important elements in the history of American culture and society is the gradual level of freedom and social equality attained by African Americans. Originally, forcefully brought over as slaves during the early years of the nation’s formation, African…

Introduction

This essay follows and examines the historical progression of African Americans throughout five distinct periods in American history spanning from 1865 through the present era.
In Unit One, historians have labeled the time period under examination the Reconstruction Era. Occurring after the Civil War, this era had tremendous implications for the lives and situations of African Americans. During the Reconstruction Era one of the primary questions that the newly reunited nation faced was in regards to the substantial slave population that had recently gained emancipation in the wake of the Civil War. The major ramifications of the Reconstruction as articulated in policy were articulated from approximately 1866 to 1871, with the right for freed African Americans to vote being among the most controversial and hotly debated topics. While before the enactment of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, the government had understood black individuals to constitute 3/5ths of an individual for voting and tax purposes; now African-Americans were granted full rights as citizens and began assuming these rights, some even holding public office (Raleigh, 2001). In addition to the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, the 14th Amendment, passed in 1868, functioned to grant immediate citizenship to individuals that were born or naturalized in the United States. The 15th Amendment was passed in 1870 and functioned to prohibit laws being passed that restricted individuals to vote based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" (Raleigh, 2001). These amendments were pivotal in the history of African Americans and along with the 20th century Civil Rights movement constitute the most crucial periods in terms of freedom for African Americans.
Even as the Constitution guaranteed rights to African Americans there was still a substantial amount ...
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