African Americans After the Civil War
John Spiller surveys race relations in the United States during Reconstruction and constructs a balance sheet.
Before 1861 the vast majority of African Americans had been slaves and had no legal rights of which to speak. The formal abolition of slavery in 1865 was clearly a landmark in the progress of black Americans, but once freed they wanted land, education, and the vote, essentially in that order. Reconstruction and the aftermath undoubtedly brought gains for them (although some were short-lived), which can be broken down into economic, social/legal and political areas.