Freedom from 1860-1920 Essay

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During the period of 1860 to 1920, drastic changes took place within the United States. The nation underwent the Civil War and the Reconstruction; resulting in industrialization, immigration, and growth of government. The dramatic alterations in social conditions left many different groups of people to fight for their freedom. One such group of people was the African Americans, who were very successful in their efforts. By 1866, Congress approved a civil rights bill and organized a Freedmen’s Bureau to prevent racial discrimination by the Southern legislature. Ulysses S. Grant would enforce these reconstruction polices. Soon, Congress re-admitted the majority of the former Confederate states back into the Union. African Americans even gained a majority of the seats in the legislatures of Louisiana and South Carolina. Congress also passed several new amendments to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, stated that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. This amendment changed the Dred Scott ruling, which had denied slaves their rights to citizenship. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, provided that the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Finally, the Enforcement Acts passed in 1870 and 1871, outlined severe punishments to anyone who attempted to deprive African Americans of their civil rights. Still, the African Americans came across several struggles. The majority of the Southern State legislatures refused to ratify the 14th amendment. Instead, they passed codes requiring African Americans to enter into annual labor contracts. Children were subject to apprentice-ship and punishments by their masters, and vagrants could be sold into private service if

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