Policies implemented regarding the South between 1863 and 1877
Nation was focused on winning the Civil War, abolishing slavery, defeating the Confederacy, reconstructing the nation and amending the US Constitution
Abraham Lincoln was major policymaker until his assassination in 1863
Reconstruction began in each state when federal troops controlled most of the state
What was the "Reconstruction Era"?
In 1865 President Andrew Johnson broke decisively with the Radical Republican faction in Congress.
He announced that Reconstruction had been accomplished as soon as the states repudiated slavery and secession
Republicans disagreed, almost impeached him
New legislation put army in charge held new elections allowing black men vote
Increased number of religious denominations increased national tensions
New scientific theories challenged previously held ideas about social order
Many different social groups were intersecting: African Americans, slaves and free citizens, Euro-Americans, and indigenous people and their ways of life were changing
Other Challenges to the Nation after the War:
Reaffirm the original vision of the New World
Determine the societal role of freed slaves, indigenous Americans, women and recent immigrants
Produce a society faithful to the intent of the Constitution
The Post Civil War Task
Established themselves as the backbone of anti-slavery movement
Developed administrative and political skills
Became accomplished speakers and writers
Identified with the condition of blacks
Gained more independence and experience through the demands of war
Developed hospitals, schools, recreational centers and other institutions
Role of Women
Industrial expansion changed plantation system from slavery to sharecropping and tenant farming.
First transcontinental railroad 1869 built by exploited Asians and blacks
Opened up the frontier and the availability of produce, raw materials and finished goods
Changed nation from small towns to urban metropolises
Changes in Economic Structure
1867 to 1877
Reconstruction Act - struck down codes that restricted blacks
Freedmen's Bureau- northerners established schools to train freed slaves
13th - outlawed slavery (1865)
14th - equal protection for African Americans (1868)
15th - right to vote for black men (1870)
A Decade of Reconstruction
Vigilante groups such as Ku Klux Klan embarked on a wave of brutal suppression ignored by federal government
1877 return of Democrats to power reversed previous gains made by blacks
Withdrawal of federal troops in south reversed protective legislation for African Americans
End of Reconstruction
After the war, abolitionists turned attention to women's rights, pacifism, temperance
Suffragists angry that black men could vote and not women -- withdrew support
Abolitionist leaders aged, died
Influx of European labor in north took away jobs and hope for social mobility for blacks
Reasons for Downfall
Throughout history Americans have used literature to represent the sentiment of the times both politically and socially
Most popular literature in America taught and confirmed social values
African American writers understood this and tried to produce work that both pleased and taught
"Writing Things Right"
Correct historical perceptions that African Americans were not intellectually or creatively capable
Confirm creative genius
Document and shape social, political and spiritual hopes for African Americans
The Role of African American Literature of the Reconstruction Period
After the war (postbellum) narratives described rugged individualism and the" American Dream"
Concentrated on the lessons learned from slavery
Not all writers had been slaves - some literature instead reflected conditions of segregation and persecution
Used as a model for overcoming past to arrive at a better future
Slave Narratives to Personal Testimony
Personal accounts by those who were on their way to success but had not arrived
Used to inspire and instruct others
Used to quell fear of whites that blacks would seek revenge for wrongs
Instructed blacks to buy into the American Dream
"Progress Report" Autobiographies
With more schools opening for blacks need for relevant texts grew
Texts offered reading, writing, arithmetic and vocational skills
Also needed texts to express history, position and hopes of African Americans
Biographies about notable blacks were used to show both blacks and whites what the African American was capable of
African American literature and literacy
Did not limit readership to race, class or culture
Wrote literature accessible to all
Imitated and revised styles and themes of white writers
Used the same styles and wrote in the same genres as white writers
Popular African American Literature
Booker T. Washington
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
W.E.B Du Bois
James Weldon Johnson
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Important Writers of this Period
Up From Slavery
Embraced by blacks as a
guide to a better future.
He felt that the way to peace was for whites to embrace the blacks' desire for economic opportunities, and for blacks to respect the whites' desire for social separation of the races.
Urged fellow African Americans to accept status quo, and work gradually to improve themselves and prove themselves valuable, productive members of society.
Booker T. Washington
Ida B. Wells-Barnett 1862 - 1931 Best known as an investigative journalist who reported on lynching in a factual, courageous, and consciousness- raising style. She was a literary activist who wrote stirring essays to inform and persuade people to demand equal rights. She wanted to write for people who had little or no school training to describe their problems in a simple, helpful way.
W.E.B. Du Bois 1868-1963 "Renaissance Man" Most multifaceted and influential writer that black America ever produced. Published sociology and history of African American people Believed that ideas not slogans were the way to get rid of bigotry. Believed in the "ideal of human brotherhood" Established the Niagara movement which became the NAACP.
James Weldon Johnson 1871 -1938 Dedicated to helping black people he became known as an author, politician, critic, journalist, poet, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered best for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. In 1900, he wrote the "Negro National Anthem" - "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" with his brother.
Known as black Poet Laureate
Lively and cheerful verse
Strong use of dialect and idiom
Described life of blacks
Often criticized as a black artist co-opted by white media hype, a poet who by singing "serenely sweet to whites" only postponed the realization in his words: "I know why the caged bird sings."