Years after the slaves were freed Americans were still not prepared to handle the question of full citizenship of the freed slaves. The reconstruction era that lasted between 1866 and 1877did not lead to significant changes in the conditions of freed slaves in America. The whites did not know how to have freed slaves around them. Focusing on the treatment of freed slaves after Reconstruction era it shows that they were still subjected to difficult conditions both socially and economically.
The freed slaves could hardly access basic needs years after they had been set free by their masters. They were neglected and segregated, which made them suffer both economically and socially. Many suffered from diseases like smallpox and cholera and died due to lack of proper health while others starved to death 1 . There were limited job opportunities for freed slaves, and they could only take jobs like sharecropping and tenant farming. Also, freed slaves could not access basic education, which led to high levels of illiteracy among them.
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The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) ensured that there was a de facto segregation, especially in terms of race where the blacks were not allowed to mix freely with the whites. Some of the KKK members warned the freed slaves not to participate in the electoral process, and they turned violent against them. The KKK’s main aim was to keep blacks from government and prevent them from voting. The de facto segregation led to increased racism in America, especially among southerners. 2
The Mississippi black code was the worst legislation that facilitated the infringement of rights and freedom of freed slaves. It helped in the formalization of racial hierarchy that enabled the whites to mistreat laborers 3 . The Mississippi Code contained apprentice law, vagrant law, and civil right laws that violated the social and economic freedom of freed slaves. The code gave whites excessive powers over the blacks.
Douglass, Frederick, Harriet Jacobs, and Sorrow Songs. "Slavery and Freedom." Shapers of the Great Debate on the Civil War: A Biographical Dictionary 6 (2005): 79.
Laurie, Anna, and Robert A. Neimeyer. "Of broken bonds and bondage: an analysis of loss in the Slave Narrative Collection." Death studies 34, no. 3 (2010): 221-256.
van Zelm, Antoinette G. "Hope within a Wilderness of Suffering: The Transition from Slavery to Freedom during the Civil War and Reconstruction in Tennessee." Tennessee - Tennessee State Museum , Nashville (2010): 7.