The United States of America has one of the most extensive and richest histories in the world. The nation suffered a lot from the hands of the colonialists. The natives were expelled from their lands by settlers. It was in terms of slave trading as people were shipped from their native areas in Africa and forced to work in farms owned by the settlers. After independence proclaimed in 1776, the abolitionists started fighting against slavery with the North putting forward ethic criticism. At the same tim, the South defended the act through the legal rights of property. Through the 13th amendment to the constitution, slavery was wholly abolished and this act set a new road of unity and economic growth in the country.
Reconstruction basically defined the initiative taken by the ruling class to restore all the seceding U.S. states and, moreover, integrate the freedmen or rather the African-Americans back into the American society. This occurred during the civil war which ended in 1877 and also after that. The confederate states wanted to break away from the United States’ Union and this fueled the civil war. That is when the reconstruction policies were adopted with the aim of re-uniting the country again. The South was totally radical against the abolishment of slavery, but some changes propped up in the southern politics, whereby southern whites majorly of the middle and low class cooperated with the blacks in the region in order to voice their demands as well as political views.
Amongst the reconstruction measures the U.S. president Abraham Lincoln took was the enactment of the 13th, 14th, and the 15th amendments to the constitution, which basically fought for the recognition of the black American society. The 13th constitutional amendment was aimed at completely abolishing the acts of slavery in the U.S. This act for once stopped the rampant slavery which was exercised throughout the country, even though it had attained independence many years ago (Reconstruction, n.d.).
The 14th constitutional amendment which was approved on the 28th of July, 1868 basically granted the U.S. citizenship to everyone naturalized or born in the country together with the previous slaves. Moreover, the law gave all the citizens equal legal protection through and also broadened the civil rights or rather the Bills of Rights to all citizens. The amendment further sanctioned the government to carry out punishments to all the states which abridged citizens’ constitutional rights to vote through proportionally dropping their political representation in the country’s congress. This amendment was a big relief to the blacks who had been treated as minorities in the society before then (Reconstruction, n.d.).
The 15th amendment was consented on 1870 and this law basically barred states from the act of disenfranchising American voters on the basis of preceding situation of servitude, color, or even race. However, the act left open the likelihood that the states might introduce voter credentials evenly to all American races, and the confederate states grabbed the advantage to institute literacy tests, and even poll taxes. Therefore, generally these reconstruction revisions to the U.S. constitution highly extended fresh constitutional and legal protections to the African-Americans in the country (Reconstruction, n.d.).
The southern populists movement emerged during the 1890s and this revolution for several years forged a universal cause between the underprivileged whites as well as blacks during the time when the South was enacting the re-enslavement of all freedmen. This move appealed to the drastic republicans and saw them working together towards achieving remarkable changes. Therefore, through this cooperation of the whites and the blacks fostered a strong force to reckon within the political arena (Harper, n.d.).
The southern populists movement emerged during the 1890s as the third American party. The organization was founded on several coalitions which were that of the coal miners, silver miners, cotton resident farmers, as well as the wheat farmers. The main aim of the movement was to fight for the poor Americans regardless of their race or color. The blacks and whites who participated in the party were all from the disadvantaged entity of the American society (Harper, n.d.).
The populist movement, which had seen the uniting together of the Americans who were of the middle and lower social statuses, was basically weak and it was masked by the two political movements which were famous at that time namely the democrats and the republicans. After the 1892 elections which saw the populist party acquiring several congress seats, the movement failed to solidify their policies and died down due to violence, intimidation, and fraud by the southern democrats and by 1986 the movement’s political capability (Harper, n.d.).
By 1896 the organization was in deep turmoil as there appeared two factions, whereby one called fusion populists moved to amalgamate with the conservative democrats with the aim of forcing changes to the main party’s platform and influencing the democrats since the party had national power. On the other hand, the mid-roaders which were the second group of the populists movement decided to stay in the center of the road instead of merging with either of the two major parties. Therefore, the national power of the organization was killed by the divisions within the party and this saw it completely vanishing from the bigger electoral map.
The African-Americans were awarded civil rights through the enactment of the 14th and the 15th constitutional amendments, but in the South in years 1880-1900 the blacks were killed, intimidated, and even killed as they tried to apply their electoral permission. By the beginning of 1890, some southern political leaders passed resolutions or rather amendments to disallow the black Americans from voting. Therefore, the alliance between the underprivileged white farmers and the blacks forming the populist organization did not prevent the wave of disenfranchisement in the south. The whites took an indirect approach to enact this move, so that they are not seen as violating the 15th amendment (Just the Beginning Foundation: Disenfranchisement of African American Voters, n.p.).
For instance, the state of Mississippi in 1890 passed amendments which included imposing ballot levies of $2, barring of voters who could not read or understand the state’s constitution, and also exclusion of all voters who were convicted of bigamy, murder, perjury, arson, and even bribery. Thus, such amendments were enacted in Louisiana and South Carolina and by 1910 several states such as Oklahoma, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, as well as North Carolina had all disenfranchised the African-Americans.
Booker T. Washington was an American of the African origin and was known to be an orator, author, educator, and also an advisor to the republican presidents during 1890-1915. He had quite a different philosophy towards the issues of segregation and disenfranchisement of the African-Americans in the South. He argued blacks to wholly play down the issue of politics, therefore they should not complain or rather confront the whites due to the existing political inequalities in the country. In that case his arguments were that the African-Americans could acquire a lot from the industrialists and ruling landowners by cooperating with them instead of fighting them. Therefore, Washington was never seen launching fights against disenfranchisement. Consequently, he discouraged the blacks from political activity and lay low (Booker T Washington, n.d.).
The Jim Crow regulations were passed in the Southern American states and they advocated for social segregation, whereby segregated community schools were established and the African-Americans had limited access to the public facilities like hotels, restaurants and parks. The laws also promoted the act of lynching of the blacks who socially interacted with the white women. Ida B. Wells was an African-American civil rights campaigner who spoke boldly against the ills of the Jim Crow’s laws, especially the act of lynching. Therefore, she responded to the evil laws of Jim Crow by publishing the cruel activities and propagandas the whites used in carrying out killings of innocent blacks. She argued that even some blacks were lynched simply because they were suspected to have sexual relations with white women (Wormser, n.d.).
Booker T. Washington was a renowned African-American political leader, speaker, novelist as well as an educationalist. He had divergent views towards reconstruction of the South, and his stand made him acquiring authority and respect in the political scenes even though they were crowded by the whites and had extensive support in the religious and educational communities, and black industry nationwide. Therefore, he was a strong person with a broad view of rebuilding and consequentially impacting the African-Americans’ living in the South in numerous ways. For instance, his views on education were descriptive of the fact that he was not an academician, but a person of accomplishment. Therefore, he described school as a locality where someone could study to make his/her life more appealing and manageable. He disagreed with the views of many blacks who saw the end of slavery as emancipation from hard labor and pointed that education would bring in more liberation.
With regard to Washington’s views on economic stability of the black community, he neither challenged nor protested towards the whites’ economic systems and instead urged the African-Americans to acquire vocational training as it would help them to secure economic self-sufficiency. Towards the attainment of political rights of the black community, his views were that the people ought to lay low of any political action. Therefore, the blacks were not to press demands fighting the prevailing political injustices. Instead they had to cooperate with the industrialists and landowners as they could benefit from them greatly. Moreover, on the issue of reconstruction, he never stressed much about the full implementation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th constitutional amendments.