The Freedmen's Bureau Act: The First Reconstruction Era

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The passage of Reconstruction legislation, namely the Freemen’s Bureau Act, the Civil Rights Bill, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and the First Reconstruction Act of 1867, gave African Americans greater economic and political rights, ultimately contributing to the Klan’s formation. First, as John Faragher stated, the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau in March 1865 entitled former slaves to benefits such as “food, clothing, and fuel.” (Out of Many, p. 364) Then in 1866, with the passing of the Civil Rights Bill and Fourteenth Amendment, “full citizenship rights” were granted to former slaves, according to Faragher. (Out of Many, p. 362) In addition, Congress expanded the Freedmen’s Bureau to establish education and courts that would help ensure civil rights protection.…show more content…
362) These government measures gifted African Americans the rights and benefits of citizenship. However, planters resented these advancements and wished to regain their previous social and political dominance. When the First Reconstruction Act was passed in 1867, political activity among African Americans surged, with “approximately 735,000 black and 635,000 white voters” enrolled in the ten unreconstructed states, and black electoral majorities in five states, as reported by Faragher. (Out of Many, p. 372) After African Americans were granted the right to vote in February 1869 with the passing of the Fifteenth Amendment, “Congress required the four remaining unreconstructed states to ratify both the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments before readmission,” as stated by Faragher. (Out of Many, p. 368) This requirement for readmission likely aggravated Democrats and planters, who feared the influx of Republican votes and objected to the African Americans’ freedom to
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