African Americans And African American Equality

883 Words May 5th, 2016 4 Pages
The future looked brighter than ever for African Americans in the year 1865; Union victory, emancipation, the right to vote, education and opportunity were on the horizon. However, the post-civil war time period proved to be much different than anticipated. Although blacks were eager to demonstrate their democratic participation and inclusion, they were often faced with opposition and disenfranchisement, especially during and after reconstruction. This oscillating and contradictory battle for African American equality is seen best in primary sources of the time; written by known historical figures such as Robert B. Elliott (but also everyday documents such as contracts and petitions) these sources take us back in time for a first hand and inside look of the struggle between blacks and whites on the definition of freedom. Right at the end of the civil war, an integrated convention was held between General William T. Sherman and leaders of the black community to redefine African American freedom. The conclusion proposed was issuing Special Field Order 15 where plots of land would be held for the settlement of black families, each receiving forty acres and a mule. A couple months later, more than 40,000 freed slaves had settled on what came to be known as “Sherman land.” To many African Americans, true freedom was linked to land ownership, something Special Field Order 15 had given them, however, this was short lived as Andrew Johnson, Lincoln 's successor, ordered all of the…
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