The Pros And Cons Of Frederick Douglass

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While Reconstruction after the Civil War seemed to have promise for former slaves, there were still many hardships. President Andrew Johnson’s leniency with the south during this decisive period allowed for there to be debate over what the fate of freed slaves should be. Some believed that continuing to work in the fields they were once slaves in was the best option for blacks because of their past as field workers, while others believed that there were more options for blacks than just farm work as seen in the schools built in the south for the black population by the Freedman’s Bureau. However, the question still remained as to what freedom for blacks truly meant. People’s opinions on what freedom for ex-slaves needed to be depended exclusively on their race and their socioeconomic status.
From a white perspective, freedom for freed African American slaves was defined by limited rights, which
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Douglass believed that freedom for freed slaves was the ability to make decisions, regardless of the outcome, for one’s self. At the time, many white legislative members, both from the north and from the south, believed that laws needed to be made to regulate the former slave population. The North sought to save them from themselves, while the South attempted to control them back into a form of slavery through sharecropping and forced employment. Douglass instead insisted that the white populace should “Do nothing with us!” and that “[i]f the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are…disposed to fall, let them fall!” This analogy asserts that freed slaves should be able to carve their own path in American history, something they had been incapable of doing while slaves. Even if this meant failure for freedmen, at least it was a failure they could choose for
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