The African-American Struggle for Civil Rights



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The African-American Struggle for Civil Rights

This theme explores the struggle of African-Americans to obtain social and political equality in the United States.

Christina Severson

Javier Banda

Miguel Anaya

Kayla Porras

1600’s


With the arrival of the first permanent English settlements in the New World, the cataclysmic implementation of African slaves into American labor sparked a 300+ year journey for African American civil rights and equality.


NOTE

The early distinctions between the North and the South, including terrain and economic focuses, display a very serious split in America that, more than 200 years later, would spark the Civil War.


The growing colonial economy based on tobacco called for more labor than European settlers could provide. The use of indentured servants, those who were provided free passage to the New World in exchange for labor, was used for a period of time, along with Native Americans. The first African slaves arrived in America in 1619 through the Middle Passage, however, the arrival of Englishmen in the 1720’s who previously settled in Barbados and had seen the widespread use of slavery on Caribbean sugar plantations sparked the true beginning of the American slave culture. Unlike Native Americans, who were familiar with American landscape and could easily escape their labor, and the unfavorable abundance of white, landless indentured servants, African slaves were unfamiliar with the land and unable to communicate to other slaves, making them easier to control and use for labor. Defining characteristics between the regions of colonial America were already beginning to emerge when the first slaves arrived. The Northern colonies, due to terrain issues and more urban city centers, strayed from an agricultural based economy to one centered on trade. On the other hand, the Southern colonies flourished with the growth of tobacco and grains like rice and wheat, and therefore needed increased numbers of laborers in order to continue being productive.

The association of the darker skin tones of African slaves with the menial work duties they were forced to participate in instigated the long held American ideal of African American inferiority.

1700’s

The 1700’s was an era of transition that witnessed an increase in the demand for slavery and planted some of the earliest seeds of rebellion into American slaves. In the 18th century, American slaves battled against the harsh living conditions that challenged their lives as soon as they stepped onto the boat to the New World. Over the course of their lives, slaves struggled with overcrowding, poor housing, minimal food supplies and daunting work schedules. Therefore, throughout the century, slaves began to revolt against their owners and plot for their own freedom. In one instance, The Stono Uprising of 1739, a group of slaves in the colony of South Carolina planned and executed an attack against their owners in order to flee to Spanish territory and live freely. Overall, the uprising resulted in the death of 60 people (35 of them were black) and swift retaliation from the South Carolina Legislature which included restrictions on African American assembly and education. A few dozen years later, as tension rose between the colonists and Britain, instances such as the death of Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre encouraged most slaves to side with the colonists. Therefore, when tensions finally boiled over, many African-American men played a role in the outcome of the American Revolutionary War. Despite hesitance from white patriots, many slaves enlisted in the colonial military with hope that upon declaring victory, the enlisted slaves would be granted their freedom or some other type of reward. However, when America’s Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence, African Americans were still excluded. It was not until 1787 that advancement would be made in the African American push for equality. The Southern and Northern States had debated whether or not slaves would be accounted for in each state’s population in order to define that state’s government representation. Eventually, the two sides settled on the 3/5 Compromise which stated that 3/5 of the total slave population would be accounted for in each state’s population count. Although slaves had not yet achieved equality, or even improved their living conditions, the 1700’s was a significant era in the African-American Civil Rights movement because it laid down a foundation for future African-American leaders.



1800-1850


REMEMBER

The Fugitive Slave Law called for federal aid in the capturing and returning of runaway slaves. It also financed these retrievals which angered the North because they were being taxed for something they did not support. The North was offended by the Federal Government’s pro-slavery sentiments and the South was offended by the North’s reaction, furthering regional hostilities.


At the start of the 1800’s, African Americans were faced with overcoming the social and political inequalities of slavery. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 aided in the Northern abolitionist movement to stop to the spread of slavery inequality as it banned slavery North of the Southern boundary of Missouri. Yet, when a black preacher by the name of Nat Turner led a bloody revolt in 1831, the results were counterproductive to the cause and led to the stricter enforcement of laws implemented against blacks. Furthermore, the struggle for Civil Rights was moderated with the concept Southern paternalism where slave holders saw it as their duty to care for slaves, who were viewed as childlike and unable to care for themselves. This mindset further rationalized the usage of slaves, as many people convinced themselves that the slaves benefitted from slavery. Slaves, recognizing that large scale revolts were usually unsuccessful, often subtly resisted by working slowly or mildly violating local slave code. These actions, along with the development of a distinctive black culture based on African and Christian roots that bonded many slaves, allowed many slaves to keep some sort of self-respect and never fully submit themselves to their oppressive lifestyle. It was not until Frederick Douglass, a free black who launched The Northern Star, and William Lloyd Garrison, the white immediatist editor of The Liberator, that the movement for equality was revitalized with their abolition advocating publications. In addition, Harriet Tubman contributed to the fight for freedom as she liberated numerous slaves with the usage of the Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, by 1850 the African American advances for civil rights were crippled by the Compromise of 1850 and its inclusive Fugitive Slave Law which banned the slave trade in Washington D.C and enforced the return of runaway slaves, respectively. The prosperity of the Southern slave culture continued to thrive and drive and wedge into the nation.

1851-1900



The division between Northern and Southern ideals, especially those focusing on slavery, continued to grow and eventually led to the American Civil War. The Mexican Session of 1848 concluded the American quest for territory from sea to shining sea but brought a number of new problems, most importantly being the status of slavery in the new territory. The earlier defeat of the Wilmot Proviso worried Northerners who feared that the balance of Congress was tipping and soon there would be a majority of pro-slavery congressmen. The question of how to decide the position of slavery in the new territory was answered with the concept of popular sovereignty which allowed for self-determination within the territory. The problems left in the wake of the controversial Compromise of 1850 were accompanied with the 1852 publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe. The book sold over one million copies and served as propaganda for the slavery issue by awakening a sense of sympathy for slaves in those who had been indifferent to the issue. Furthermore, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, formulated by Stephen Douglas, repealed the Missouri Compromise and left the status of slavery up to the residents of a territory. This act incited Bloody Kansas, a display of the failings of the act and the hostilities American’s had towards one another. Anti and pro-slavery advocates flooded into the new territory of Kansas, hoping to gain control of the territory and therefore its representation in Congress. Rival constitutions were written and sent to Washington D.C, and President Pierce’s recognition of the pro-slavery constitution was the catalyst in the ensuing violence and brutality between the rival groups. The end result of 200 deaths gave the incident its name. In addition to this, the 1857 Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case added fuel to the fire by stating that slaves were property, not citizens, and therefore the Federal Government could not take away the property (slaves) of citizens (slave owners). This ruling obliterated both the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and seemed to display a very pro-slavery sentiment in the Federal Government, increasing the divisions in the nation. In addition, 1858 was home to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, where Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Stephen Douglas competed for the Illinois Senate seat. Here, Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” Speech and Douglas lost any chance of gaining the Presidency in 1860 by alienating both Southern and Northern votes with his vague stance on popular sovereignty. Then, in 1859, John Brown led a raid on Harper’s Ferry, but failed to spark a revolt and was executed. He became a martyr and was celebrated throughout the North. The election of Lincoln in 1860 and his anti-expansion stance on slavery further estranged the South and they joined their previously seceded neighbor, South Carolina, and formed the Confederate States of America, displaying two distinctive parts of America, the Union and the Confederacy. This sparked the Civil War.


remember

The Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves; it simply stated that on the first day of 1863, the government would liberate the slaves of all the STATES IN REBELLION. Therefore, slaves in the Border States and Southern states under control of the Union Army were not able to be liberated by the Federal Government because they were governed by the U.S Constitution.


The Civil War, although argued to be a battle over state’s rights because the Southern states right to popular sovereignty was threatened by the Federal Government, was clearly a fight over the status of slavery in America. Lincoln declared it was a war to preserve the Union and that any decisions he made on slavery were purely for the sake of the Union. The Constitution protected slavery where it was, so a majority were opposed to the expansion of slavery. When Lincoln was first elected, he advocated gradual emancipation, however, with the seriousness of the secession of the South, quicker means for emancipation were necessary. Radical Republicans introduced Confiscation Acts which gave the government the right to take any slaves from anyone in rebellion (the South) and anyone supporting the rebellion. However, refusal to enforce the acts by Lincoln led to their lack of success. Slaves contributed to the Southern war effort and therefore had to be liberated by the Union. Liberation would have provided a new source of troops for the Union and would, amusingly, arm freed slaves to fight against the South. However, a Northern success had to be achieved before emancipation was proclaimed. After the Union victory at Antietam, Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, finally declaring the Civil War was indeed a war against slavery. Two years later, while campaigning for reelection, Lincoln displayed his support for complete emancipation by calling for the Thirteenth Amendment, an amendment abolishing slavery. In the closing weeks of the Civil War, when a Union victory was apparent, the Freedman’s Bureau was established to aid newly emancipated slaves in adjusting to postwar society. The Thirteenth Amendment, along with the Fourteenth Amendment, which stated that anyone born in the U.S is a citizen and therefore has rights, and the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to black men, were known as the Civil War Amendments. However, these achievements in the struggle for African-American rights were hindered by the passing of Black Codes by Southern legislators. The codes reduced freed men’s rights to assemble, implemented a curfew for blacks, and forced blacks to carry passes. It was basically slavery without the labor. Also interfering with the luxury of freedom that blacks still did not have was the Ku Klux Klan, which used scare tactics and terror in order to maintain white supremacy, and laws banning blacks from voting. Furthermore, the Compromise of 1877 ended reconstruction and gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency, provided that he pull federal troops out of the South, meaning there was no longer protection for African-Americans. This compromise, unfortunately, allowed for the Southern slave culture to return and stagnate the progress of African-Americans. Still unsure of their place in society, freed men tended to partake in sharecropping which eventually turned into an unscrupulous way for white farmers to once again have some sort of control over blacks.

As the eventful 19th century was coming to a close, the Federal Government decreased its awareness of the discriminatory acts of the South, allowing the implementation of Jim Crow Laws which decreased the rights of blacks and increased the superiority complex of whites. Then, in 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” facilities were completely legal, once again pushing African Americans and their struggle for equality one step back. Knowing that white society would not readily accept the assimilation of blacks, Booker T. Washington called for the independence of blacks. Some called him an accommodationist, seeming as he was content with the continued oppression of blacks, however, he led African-Americans into the new century, both believing in themselves and hoping for constitutionally granted rights.

1901-1950

As the United States embarked on missions to uphold liberty during the first half of the 1900’s, it only seemed fit for African Americans to embrace the fight for their own civil rights. At the foundation of the movement lay the ideals of W.E.B. Du Bois who, through the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), pushed for political equality and social justice. Subsequently, when African-Americans enlisted into the Armed Forces to uphold American democratic values only to be put in segregated units, more fuel was added to the fight against racial injustice in both the home front and abroad. Furthermore, back in the United States, the Great Migration took place as blacks sought to take advantage of the labor shortage in the North so that they could escape the oppressive Southern culture that had kept them in its grip since the 1700’s. Even though they faced poor working conditions, blacks were able to develop a new African-American culture that would grow exponentially in the Harlem Renaissance. In fact, during the 1920’s to 1930’s, the literary, artistic, and intellectual movement fostered a new black cultural identity that revolved around the development of jazz music. Consequently to the Great Migration, an increase in lynching and Ku Klux Klan members took place in order to discourage the new momentum of the movement for social justice. However, with the implementation of anti-lynching laws, punishments for lynching and mob violence against blacks were able to be put into place. In addition, African American enlistment into World War II reemphasized the injustice of blacks fighting to liberate people of other countries only to be oppressed back home. As a result, African Americans were able to win a step towards equality once President Truman desegregated the armed forces in 1948. Similarly, Jackie Robinson was able to break the color barrier in 1947 as he became first African American to play Major League Baseball. Therefore, as the first half of the century came to a close, blacks were starting to accumulate decisive steps towards equality.

1951-Present

The era between the year 1951 and the present consisted of the emergence of several innovators in the African American civil rights movement, as well as some of the most effective steps in the history of the movement. For instance, in the year 1954 the Supreme Court took a massive step in favor of the African American reform movement through its decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case. The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, ruled that as long as facilities are separated, they are not equal; thus overturning the ruling of 1896’s Plessy v. Ferguson court case. Following this decision was the incident of the Little Rock Nine. Orville Faubus, the governor of Arkansas, opposed the new implementation of desegregation in school and posted armed guards outside of Little Rock High School to block nine African American children from entering the school. The incident received national attention and did not end until President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to escort the children to school. This marked the first time since Reconstruction that U.S troops were in the South to protect African- Americans, and displayed the need for the Federal Government’s aid in the push for civil justice. Other significant events include the Montgomery Bus Boycott following the arrest of Rosa Parks, and the Greensboro sit-in. Also, the Civil Rights movement gained a new leader in Martin Luther King Jr. King supported a non-violent approach to gaining African-American civil rights as evidenced by his leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. As a result of the continuous non-violent pushes from the African American community, desegregation finally started to become a reality. In the 1960’s, the University of Mississippi became desegregated. Shortly afterwards, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discrimination based on race or color (as well as discrimination based on religion, sex, and national origin) in Federal employment, and outlawed discrimination in voting, respectively. These specific advancements can be attributed to the nonviolent pushes from several organizations including the Congress of Racial Equality, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Freedom Riders. However, several violent instances of racial hate contributed to the changed mood of the African American rights movement from civil disobedience to complete revolution. Instigating this change were the murder of Medgar Evers (a civil rights activist from Mississippi), violence against blacks in the 1960s, and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. These instances sparked retaliation from the black community and thus contributed to black riots, the rise of the Black Panther Party (and it’s “Black Power” mantra), and the shift to the more powerful and dynamic approach from the next face of the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X.

In the last 30 years of the 20th century and into the 21st century, African Americans and their over 300 year struggle for justice and equality finally began reaping the benefits so many had fought and died for. The election of African Americans into both State and Federal Government positions, the increase in African American voters, and the dwindling of long-held attitudes of inferiority placed on blacks illustrated the success in the movement for African American civil rights. From the oppressive grips of Southern slave culture, to the battlefields of the Civil War, to the streets that were home to riots, marches, and protests, all the way to election of America’s first black president, the struggle for African-American social and political equality has spanned every era of American history.

Key Terms

Concepts

Tobacco: Cash crop grown in the early colonies. The importance of tobacco to colonial economies increased the need for labor, hence, slavery.

Indentured Servitude: In return for free passage to the new world, servants promised seven years of labor and were then granted freedom.

Middle Passage: Shipping route that brought African slaves to America.

Northern Abolitionists: The strive for the abolishment of slavery was supported, though not entirely, in the Northern regions of America where slavery was not a part of societal culture. Religious morals influenced many of the abolitionists.

Southern Paternalism: The idea that Blacks were unable to care for themselves, rationalizing slavery as a way of taking care of them.

Underground Railroad: A network of hiding places and safe trails that many runaway slaves were able to escape to freedom through.

Popular Sovereignty: The concept that territories themselves could decide their status as a slave or slave-free state through voting.

State’s Rights: States had the right to popular sovereignty and to govern themselves

Black Codes: Harsh legislation implemented on freed blacks by Southern governments that required them to carry passes, have a curfew, and prohibited them from assembling or traveling.

Sharecropping: The system in which workers traded a portion of the crop for the right to work on someone else’s land. It turned unscrupulous when landowners would keep their tenant farmers in a constant state of poverty and debt.

Great Migration: Southern blacks fled the South for Northern economic opportunities in cities like New York, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis.

Harlem Renaissance: Theatre, art, clubs, and newspapers began to sprang up in large, prominently black neighborhoods of New York

Jazz Music: A product of the Harlem Renaissance, jazz music was a major cultural development in the black community and was symbolic of the fee-spiritedness of the era.

Black Riots: The push for Civil Rights often turned violent and protest often turned into mobs of brutality that illustrated black’s frustration with their lack of political and social process.

Black Power: The mantra of the Black Panther party which abandoned non-violent ideals and advocated the need for total revolution with the implementation of militancy.

Events

Stono Uprising of 1739: Also known as the Cato Rebellion- first and one of the most successful Slave rebellions in American history. A group of slaves stole ammunition, killed white planters, and liberated a number of slaves and fled to Florida; however the Colonial militia caught up and killed or captured the salves. The uprising led to increased fear of slave insurrections and colonies passed more restrictive laws for blacks.



Mexican Session: Following the Mexican-American War, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo granted America 500,000 square miles of land. The status of slavery in the new territory sparked the journey to the American Civil War

Publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Published in 1852, the book displayed the life of slaves and slave holders and people began to understand the moral issue at hand and became more aware of the lack of humanity in slavery. Southerners were angered by the book, thinking that it undermined the institution their society was based on.

Bloody Kansas: 1856 In the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, both anti and pro-slave Americans flooded into Kansas in hopes of tipping the balance in their favor. Violence ensued between the masses of opposing parties and resulted in the death of 200 people.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates: 1858 Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were campaigning for the Illinois Senate seat; the debates brought Lincoln to national attention and displayed his pre-Civil War views on slavery in America.

Raid of Harper’s Ferry: 1859 John Brown hoped to instigate a slave revolt in his raid on Harper’s Ferry but instead was executed and became a martyr for the abolitionist cause.

American Civil War: 1861-1865 War fought between the Union and the Confederacy over the status of slavery in America and partly for state’s rights.

Antietam: 1862 Bloodiest battle of the Civil War but was a decisive Union victory that compelled Lincoln to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation.

Montgomery Bus Boycott:1955 Starting with the arrest of Rosa Parks and led by Martin Luther King Jr., blacks in Montgomery Alabama refused to ride public transportation for a year in order to be granted the right to sit wherever. It displayed the success of civil disobedience and nonviolence.

Greensboro Sit-In: 1960 Another act of civil disobedience in which a group of black students refused to leave a place clearly marked for whites only. It inspired sit-ins throughout the country.

People (Individuals and Groups)

African Slaves: Shipped to America (in 1619) for labor and replaced indentured servants because they were easier to control and less likely to run away.

Crispus Attucks: An African American killed in the Boston Massacre who compelled other African America’s to side with the colonists during the revolutionary war.

Nat Turner: Black preacher who had a vision that he took as a sign from God that the liberation movement would succeed. He and a group of other blacks killed 60 whites, and, consequently, whites killed 200 slaves who were not related to the incident in any way. Turner’s Rebellion displayed the early ineffectiveness and counterproductive results of slave revolts.

Frederick Douglass: An escaped slave who gained fame from his writings about equality and freedom. He launched The North Star, an influential newspaper advocating black rights.

William Lloyd Garrison: White immediatist who published the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. Garrison’s extremist views were questioned by Southerners, but he continued to advocate for the fight against slavery.

Harriet Tubman: An escaped slave woman who rescued hundreds of runaway slaves by leading them through the Underground Railroad to freedom.

Harriet Beacher Stowe: Abolitionist author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Stephen Douglas: Northern Democrat who drafted the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law and the Kansas-Nebraska Act but then later ruined his chance at the future presidency (although, he won the Senate seat) during the Lincoln-Douglas debates by taking a vague stance on popular sovereignty.

John Brown: Radical abolitionist who instigated Bloody Kansas and later died for the cause.

Confederate States of America: Seceded states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas who were governed by Jefferson Davis.

Radical Republicans: Wing of Congress that wanted immediate emancipation

Ku Klux Klan: Army in the war of intimidation that followed the civil war. The KKK used scare tactics to keep blacks and other unfavorable minorities in a position of inferiority.

Booker T. Washington: So called accomodationist who preached the self-dependence blacks needed to practice and the learning of skills for economic independence.

W.E.B Du Bois: Opposed Booker T. Washington’s preaching and believed that blacks should fight for their rights. He established the NAACP

NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People established by W.E.B Du Bois in 1909.

Jackie Robinson: First African American Major League Baseball player

Earl Warren: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who practiced Judicial Activism and called for the unanimous ruling of inherent inequality in Brown v. Board

Little Rock Nine: Nine African American children who were denied the right to enter a Little Rock high school and were then escorted by the 101st Airborne in order to attend a newly desegregated school.

Orville Faubus: Governor of Arkansas who placed state troops around a Little Rock high school, opposing the Supreme Court’s ruling that public schools were to be desegregated.

Rosa Parks: African American woman who was an activist for the NAACP and willingly instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott by refusing to give her seat up on a public bus.

Martin Luther King Jr.: A young, African American preacher who became the leader for the Civil Rights Movement by preaching the principles of nonviolence and civil disobedience.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference: Established by King, the SCLC pushed for the equality of blacks in American society.

Congress of Racial Equality: CORE, organized the Freedom Riders

Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee: SNCC, Attempted to register Blacks to vote and were activists in the anti-segregation movement.

Freedom Riders: An integrated group of people who practiced sit-ins and boycotts and other types of peaceful protests.

Medgar Evers: Mississippi’s NAACP director. Evers was shot to death by advocates of segregation. His death was one of the many acts of brutality towards Blacks in the 60’s

Black Panther Party: The previously integrated CORE and SNCC dispelled their white member s to form the militant Black Panther Party who split with King’s desire for nonviolence.

Malcolm X: Civil rights leader who opposed King’s approach to the obtaining of rights and called for a more aggressive take on the acquiring of civil rights.

Places

Caribbean Sugar Plantations: Where the first use of African slaves for hard labor was implemented. This trend then traveled to America.



Northern Colonies: Northern colonies and later states based their economies on trade because the terrain was unfavorable for agriculture. The need for industry more than man power meant that slaves were not needed in the North, hence the tendency of Northerners to be indifferent about slavery or radically abolitionist.

Southern Colonies: Southern colonies based their economy around agriculture, particularly tobacco and grains and manned labor was a necessity for the prosperity of the economy. Because of this, slavery became a part of Southern culture and the South remained a place of inferiority for blacks well into the 20th century.

Policies, Agreements, Court Rulings, Etc.

3/5 Compromise: Stated that 3/5 of a state’s slave population would be accounted for in each State’s population count when deciding a state’s representation in Congress

Missouri Compromise: Admitted Missouri as a slave state, admitted Maine as a free state, and stated that the Southern border of Missouri would represent the Northern most point at which slavery would be allowed, excluding Missouri, since it was a slave state.

The Northern Star: Frederick Douglass’ influential newspaper rallying people to support the movement for Black equality.

The Liberator: William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper first published in 1831

Compromise of 1850: Stephen Douglas’ and Henry Clay’s solution to the dispute over Mexican territory. The compromise was not accepted by Congress but was later broken up into different parts, including the Fugitive Slave Law. It also banned the slave trade (not the usage of slaves) in Washington D.C.

Fugitive Slave Law: The last bill in the Compromise of 1850 called for federal aid and financing in the capture and return of runaway slaves and that anyone who was involved with a runaway slave could be fined or imprisoned. This law angered the North because the Federal Government seemed to be siding with the pro-slavery South.

Wilmot Proviso: A congressional bill prohibiting the extension of slavery into any Mexican territory, however, it was defeated in Congress.

Kansas-Nebraska Act: Created by Stephen Douglas that gave the residents of the territory the power to decide whether it would be free or slave. This act also repealed the Missouri Compromise and furthered the suspicions of Northerners that the Federal Government was tipping in the South’s favor.

Dred Scott v. Sandford: Supreme Court case which ruled that slaves were property, not citizens, therefore, the government could not confiscate the property (slaves) of actual citizens (slaveholders). This ruling obliterated the entire history of compromise.

“House Divided” Speech: Lincoln’s speech during the Lincoln-Douglas debates detailing that the government could not be productive if it was half free and half state.

Confiscation Acts: The Confiscation Acts freed the slaves of all rebel states; however, they were ineffectual because Lincoln did not enforce them.

Emancipation Proclamation: Declared the freedom of slaves in the confederacy, not in the Border States or any states under Union control. The proclamation declared the Civil War was a war over the status of slavery in the United States.

Thirteenth Amendment: Constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery

Freedman’s Bureau: Government established program aimed at aiding freed slaves adjust to post-war society.

Fourteenth Amendment: Constitutional amendment stating that anyone born in the United States is a citizen and that states could not prohibit citizens from “life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness”.

Fifteenth Amendment: Gave voting rights to black men. The amendment’s ratification was a requirement of Southern states reentering the Union and many people in the North did not support the amendment.

Civil War Amendments: The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments are known as the Civil War Amendments

Compromise of 1877: Compromise that led to the election of republican Rutherford B. Hayes under the condition that he remove federal troops from the South, thus marking the end of formal reconstruction.

Jim Crow Laws: Incredibly discriminatory acts implemented in Southern society that furthered the gap between African Americans and their social equality.

Plessy v. Ferguson: 1896 Supreme Court case which ruled the legality of “separate but equal” facilities, taking Blacks a step back from the few gains they had made throughout Reconstruction.

Brown v. Board: 1954 Supreme Court case repealing the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson and stated that school segregation was inherently unequal and called for the integration of public schools.

Civil Rights Act of 1964: Protects any employee of the Federal Government from being discriminated based upon their race, sex, religion, and nationality.



Voting Rights Act of 1965: Signed by President Johnson, this Act cracked down on states who still denied blacks the right to vote despite the Fifteenth Amendment.


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