The Freedmen's Bureau

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In addition to improved infrastructure, one positive component of Reconstruction was the advances of black institutions. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created in 1865 as a social experiment in social policy as a primitive welfare system. Its task was to provide immediate relief, such as food, shelter, and medical care as well as long-term relief. It was somewhat corrupt but it resulted in the creation of 4,000 African American schools and universities and a segregated public school system in every southern state. 200,000 blacks were taught how to read, however, by the end of reconstruction 80% of African Americans were still illiterate. Attempts by whites to improve the fate of blacks were limited but the church underwent major progressions during…show more content…
The churches rallied voters for Republicans, provided relief, funded schools, and supported Republican policies. Although they advances of black institutions and education were marginal, these developments were the primary catalyst of civil rights movements of the future. On the other hand, the freedmen’s bureau failed at advancing economic independence of blacks because they didn’t establish a free wage-labor system. In 1862, Congress enacted the unsuccessful Southern Homestead Act of 1866. The land included in this act was of very poor quality because of its location or it had previously been robbed of nutrients by the economically taxing cash crop plantation system. Furthermore, Thaddeus Steven’s Land Reform bill, which included confiscating ex-slave owners’ land and providing freedmen families with 40 acres and a mule, on the grounds that it infringed upon property rights. The same argument used to defend a person’s right to own slaves was used again to stop the representatives from pushing this bill forward. Radical Republicans demonstrated how they valued their own well-being over that of blacks because property rights were too sacred to the…show more content…
By 1866, the Klu Klux Klan evolved into a domestic terrorist organization that successfully practiced voter intimidation through violence and the murder of Republicans. In the election of 1868 alone, 2,000 murders were committed which allowed Democrats to win decisive victories in Georgia and Louisiana. While the Enforcement and KKK Acts were adopted in 1870 and 1871, Republican reluctance to intervene allowed the organization to accomplish its goals of forcing blacks not to exercise their 15th amendment rights. In 1870, black men were guaranteed the right to vote but whites wanted to see an end to an illegitimate “negro supremacy” so they did everything in their power to challenge black enfranchisement. Vigilante Groups, who took the law into their own hands, however, were harder to clamp down on because they were unorganized. The White League and White Brotherhood carried on the mission of the KKK and united members of all classes of Southern society to fight against a supposed Republican system of “reverse racism” that favored blacks over whites. These groups eventually became a militant wing of the Democratic Party and intended to redeem the south by forbidding the black majority from
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