Free «Civil War and Reconstruction» Essay
Civil War and Reconstruction is a remarkable moment of the American society in the sense that the dignity of labor made the Union and Confederate visions of the American Republic both before and after the Civil War. So to speak, based on the Foner’s free labor, soil and men the topic will be explored and brought into view in context of the Civil War and Reconstruction. In connection to this, the issue of slavery in the United States was the backbone of the flourishing economy especially in the southern parts of America (Edwards 313-317). This was for the reason that the place had extensive and fertile lands for Agriculture in which the cheap labor provided by the slaves was an important input.
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Slavery by definition, it is the forced labor that was commonly applied to African Americans and blacks who were bought as slaves from Africa in order to provide cheap labor in the farms and plantations. As such, this was not limited to the south alone but even to the northern regions. In accordance to this, the westward expansion or frontier was so significance to the slavery struggle (Turner). Having been subjected hard labor and dependency system, the workers or rather the slaves operated under the full authority of their masters. This is to suggest that much needed to be done in order to gain the autonomy of their families; more specifically, the slaves. The aspect of dependency led to many salves being fed, clothed and provided for the basic needs together with the aspect of the slave masters exercising full authority even to the families of the slaves (Edwards 332-335). Both men and women were subjected to hard labor and in particular, women who were past child bearing worked as good as their men.
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Over time, there has been a tendency of the whites to discriminate the other races and more important the African American and the blacks. There is an ideology that by being a white you automatically have authority or rather you become superlative. Racism in particular, has jeopardized the lives of many who happen to be not whites. This is evident by brutality and exploitation of the slaves and those that were not whites in the American history. Laws that were made meant that the slaves were to work hard and meet the requirements of their masters without complaints. In line with this, many killings and indecent acts were done to the blacks and the African Americans (Carter). If a black or an African American would be found to be assaulting a white woman, the option would be to be hanged without being tried.
In the American History, there was the notion that rose in regard to free labor. This notion can be well understood if examined from the perspectives of such like groups as the Southern slave holders or Northern political leaders, enslaved persons in the South and the free blacks in the North or South. From the point of view of the white slave holders or Northern political leaders, there was a great controversy. This was for the reason that the southern slave holders held to the fact that free labor meant that the slaves were to work for wages but remain to be bond by the authority of their masters. This translated to the free labor being only a notion that had no full definition and as a result, slavery was not abolished but rather continued.
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On the other hand, the northern political leaders were committed to free labor in the sense that the salves were to be set free and be given their rights as human beings. They were supposed to work as sharecroppers and to be given the freedom to control their lives and the conditions of work. Also, they provided for the workers to be in a position to fight for their rights in case they were not satisfied by the conditions of work provided (Edwards 322-327).
In the same line of thought, to the enslaved persons in the south, free labor meant that they work and barrels of corn be given to them. Due to dependency, the barrels would be so little for them and though freedom was promised, they remained in the power of their masters that oppressed them. Free labor made them to work for wages of which once they got their wages, their white employers took much a great percentage that they fell short of the supplies and had to purchase more.
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Even though free labor promised that the slaves would have personal control over their work and lives, this was not the case in the south. Instead, the enslaved persons had no right to own property and their way of living was dictated by their white employers. Following the fact the southerners viewed slavery as a necessary evil, they had to ensure that they continued the slavery trade in order for their plantation system to grow. They felt that if the blacks as well as the African Americans owned the small farms and be given the freedom, the economical importance of the slaves would be nullified. Slavery from the northerners’ point of view was a social evil that needed to be addressed and free labor would be a solution. Nonetheless, the enslaved persons in the southern parts of the state felt the impact of being exploited, discriminated, kidnapped and subjected to hard labor. If they disobeyed their masters or rather their white employers, they were subjected to punishment without trial (Geary).
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From a point of view of the free blacks in the North or South, free labor was just but a conception that was used in order to enhance the slavery. Despite the fact that they were termed as free, they faced inequity and they were in fact kept as subordinates to the US society. Free blacks both in the north and the south, faced discrimination and in most cases, they did not get the opportunities as the whites. The laws did not give them rights and as a result everywhere they were they were discriminated. Even in accessibility of jobs, they did not access them with ease as these opportunities were so much open to the whites. The laborers that were viewed as honorable were jobs like the office jobs, business jobs, being a landlord or a slave holder and other such like jobs. As such, jobs that were not honorable included the ones that were given to the slaves for farming, cultivating, attending and harvesting in the plantations.
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Even though the free blacks now were given their personal freedom through free labor, the issue proved even tougher as they faced restrictions both by law and the whites. Their movement was equally restricted as when they moved to the southern part of the region they had to show their proof of the freedom. If not, they had to be sold as slaves. Another issue was the fact that they were restricted in the area of education as they were not allowed to get its access. Again, purchasing of items was restricted in the sense that there were not allowed to shop for items freely. This brought out the aspect of the freedom that was once promised, to appear to be another form of slavery.
At the same time, for any African American as well as the blacks, it was unlawful to witness in court against a white. This point suggest that there must have been a great problem in what was termed as free labor as it resulted to greater problems than anticipated. It was as if free labor was more of enslavement than the former. Accordingly, there were a lot of killings of women and children along with the men who happened to be not whites as the freedom promised to the African Americans and the other minority communities, was abused with shootings and killings along with kidnappings being recorded (Eye Witness to History).
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Having been dominated by slavery, the southern part of America had a great number of the slaves both blacks and in simple terms the African American. Setting the slaves free or embracing the idea of the free labor would translate to economy recession as the slaves contributed so much to the growth of the southern economy. Generally, the points of view of the three groups of people as earlier on highlighted greatly differed. So to speak, the differences in perspectives of free labor and slavery brought about the differences that were observed between the north and the south. The south resisted modernization and the ideology of free labor but north advocated for it. The northern region gave the slaves room to fight for their rights through movements such as abolitionists, churches and newspapers. The restrictions on the laborers on the north were less severe compared to the ones in the southern parts. As a consequence, there came about the Republican Party in the northern and the question about slavery and its authenticity brought about the American civil war.
Following the above discussion, it is essential to bring out the reality that the issue of free labor and anti-slavery was the main cause of the Civil war in America (Edwards 314-317). It was a struggle between those that held to slavery as a necessary evil and those that held it as social evil. Subsequently, during the reconstruction era, the authenticity of slavery was a question that needed to be dealt with. In regard to this, reconstruction dealt with the actuality of the slavery being abolished or whether a type of slavery existed after the union armies had left. In this combination, the civil rights movement and equality came up seeking the rights and equality for all. Therefore, free labor and slavery can be pointed out as the main causes of civil war and the reconstruction. In addition, the different perspectives on the issue of free labor and slavery by both the southerners and northerners contributed to the civil war and reconstruction.