After the Civil War the United Stated faced even bigger problems. Many questions were raised by everyone all over the country on how the U. S would work. The Union came up victorious while the South was completely destroyed, crops were damaged and the social status for African Americans was being questioned. While war was over, many white Americans still didn’t accept African Americans new social role in the U. S. The pressure was heavy during this time, and there for the Reconstruction era is arguably the most important era in the U. S history.
Looking at this topic I will discuss how this era had a big impact on African Americans rights with the decision on the Plessy vs Ferguson court case, how Frederik Douglass became a big advocate for civil rights, and also how during this era African Americans in the South had to suffer to obtain respect from White Americans. This era supported in many ways the civil rights of African Americans, and while it did have some negative impact on them, overall I believe the Reconstruction era had a positive impact on the civil rights of African Americans.
When talking about African American civil rights, the Plessy vs Fergusson court case has to be one of the most influential decisions in the history of the United States. This supreme court decision deemed unconstitutional a Louisiana law that would separate the black people from the white people in the train station. This court case helped lay the groundwork on better things to come for the civil rights of African Americans.
The Louisiana law was not only interfering with the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery, but also it interfered with the 14th amendment, which prohibits certain restrictive legislation on the part of the states (The American Story, 3). This was a big win for African Americans, it proved that there was still a chance to fight and that even against odds it was possible to fight for the social status they rightfully deserved.
As stated in the court case, “If the civil and political right of both races be equal, one cannot be inferior to the other civilly or politically” (The American Story, 3), Homer A. Plessy was fighting for what African Americans deserved, and thanks to his resilience he won a big battle against the Black Codes. While the Reconstruction era was in full effect, a big advocate and hero for many African Americans at that time was Frederik Douglass. Frederik was a former slave, therefor he looked at things through the point of view of African Americans. Douglass was a big advocate that would fight at all cost for the civil rights after the civil war.
Douglass focused more on the government side of things, fighting day after day for civil rights. He demanded they be given full rights-political, legal, educational, and economic- as citizens. ” (A More Perfect Union, 19). Frederik was very persistent, and after much Fighting and pushing through the government Frederik got a big reward when he was appointed as Marshal of the District of Columbia, “He was rewarded for these services by appointment as marshal of the District of Columbia in 1877” (A more Perfect Union, 19). His greatest work was during the Civil War, however after the civil war he pushed himself and the government until he obtained great victories towards equality.
Having a seat in the government was a big accomplishment and helped the fight against the civil rights for African Americans. There were some major wins during the Reconstruction era, but it wasn’t all good for African Americans. While the whole era itself was very successful, many African Americans had to suffer to win their social status. Following the Civil War African Americans who lived in the South were still big targets by whites who didn’t accept their social status. “The problem of race touched all Southerners, from oppresses former slaves to anxious white farmers and city dwellers. (A More Perfect Union, 48), the South lived in a world of poverty and racism. African Americans were being racially targeted, over 150 black people were being lynched a year. (A more perfect Union, 48). However, this wasn’t such a bad thing for African Americas, thanks to the situation the government went in full effect to fix the situation.
Booker T. Austin, a former slave from Virginia (Union, 49), was sent to Atlanta to talk to the people to calm them down. While many African Americans didn’t believe in his work, the exposition helped out. His moderate message, accommodation tone, and stress on business and hard work generally pleased his listeners, who marked him as a worthy spokesman for his race. ” (Union, 48) Booker T. Austin’s speech was greeted greatly by big white advocates in the South. The exposition in Atlanta helped calm the white Americans and it also encouraged the African Americans to take more initiative towards agricultural and industrial labor, which in turn helped end racism in the South. Overall the Reconstruction era was a success for the civil rights of African Americans.
With the help of different influential people like Homer A. Plessy, Frederik Douglass, and Booker T. Austin, African Americans today have the rights they rightfully deserve. To many African Americans it was a long tedious era, however with every single effort that was put it into this era, came a big result. The Civil War was not fought in vain thanks to the major reconstruction the country went in. The United States was able to bounce back from the ashes of the war, and today the Reconstruction era may be looked at one of the most, if not, the most important era of the U. S history.