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Rob Fink

As African Americans fought racial prejudice in the United States following the Civil War, some black leaders proposed a strategy of accommodation. The idea of accommodation called for African Americans to work with whites and accept some discrimination in an effort to achieve economic success and physical security. The idea proved controversial: many black leaders opposed accommodation as counterproductive.

Booker T. Washington served as the champion of accommodation. Born a slave in 1856 Washington received a degree from the Hampton Institute before being invited to head up the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama At Tuskegee Washington used industrial education to promote accommodation by African Americans Because of his background Washington recognized the difficulties faced by southern blacks in their quest for civil rights He knew firsthand that during the 1860s and 1870s whites in the South found it hard to accept African Americans as free No one argued against the ...


L. Diane Barnes

Founded in December 1816, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was the first national organization to take on the problem of slavery in the United States. The ACS proposed an expatriation scheme to rid the nation of slavery and of free African Americans. The prominent founders Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others secured federal funding and in 1822 founded the colony of Liberia on Africa's west coast as the destination for America's blacks.

Even before the founding of the ACS, the colonization of African Americans was an issue that divided both whites and blacks. Some African Americans supported colonization, arguing that free blacks would never be fully included in the white-dominated society of the United States. Others argued just as forcibly that blacks were entitled to full rights as American citizens and should remain to fight on behalf of their race.

The ACS drew ...


Diane L. Barnes

The American Missionary Association formed in 1846 in Albany, New York, as an alliance of Christian abolitionists who chose not to associate with the existing missionary agencies operated by various Protestant denominations. The spark for the formation of the association dates to the plight of the Amistad captives in 1839. This group of Africans enslaved in violation of international law successfully revolted against their captors aboard a Spanish slave ship—but ended up on trial in the United States when the ship drifted into a harbor on Long Island, New York. The well-publicized trial led many northern abolitionists to push mainstream missionary organizations, including the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to assist the Amistad voyagers in their return to Africa but the organizations refused The frustrations of these Christian abolitionists led to the formation of three groups the Union Missionary Society the Western Evangelical Mission Society and ...

Primary Source

If James Buchanan was precisely the wrong chief executive to hold office immediately before the Civil War, Andrew Johnson was almost certainly the wrong man to hold office immediately after the war. When an assassin's bullet felled Abraham Lincoln on 14 April 1865, his vice president, Johnson, ascended to the Oval Office and immediately came into conflict with Radical Republicans in Congress, eager to press forward their plan for a harshly retributive Reconstruction. Such conflicts were perhaps preordained. Johnson had been added to Lincoln's ticket in a vain attempt to placate those Southern states that made no bones about their intense dislike for Lincoln and his strong unionist policies. Johnson's avowedly pro-Confederate, racist ideologies frequently ran afoul of even moderates in Congress.

Any hope of political reconciliation thin though it may have been was dispelled on 27 March 1866 when Johnson vetoed that year s landmark civil rights legislation Though ...


Mohammah Baquaqua was born in 1824 in Zoogoo, (probably a small village in present-day Angola) in central Africa, to a fairly prosperous family. He was raised in an Islamic household and was sent by his father to the local mosque to study the Qur'an (Koran), the sacred text central to Islamic worship. Unsatisfied with school, he left to learn the trade of making needles and knives with his uncle in another village. Baquaqua was captured and enslaved after a struggle for the succession of the local throne. His brother managed to find someone who was able to purchase Baquaqua's freedom. Baquaqua returned to his hometown and became a bodyguard to the local king, where he noted the corruption of the royal armed forces that looted the citizens of the city.

A group of individuals apparently envious of his close association with the king engineered Baquaqua s capture and ...


Erin L. Thompson

Major movements of the black population within the United States began with the importations of the slave trade and continued with the movements of runaway slaves. After they were emancipated, many blacks moved to the North and West to find economic opportunities; some, disappointed, returned to the South. Blacks have also migrated to the United States from other countries, notably those in Africa and the Caribbean.


Jacob Andrew Freedman

farmer and entrepreneur, was born near Canton, Mississippi, the only child of Wesley Rutledge and Anne Maben. Rutledge was the nephew of William H. Goodlow, the owner of the estate where Anne Maben was a house slave. Wesley worked as the manager of the house for his aunt and uncle. At birth Bond was given the surname Winfield, and at the age of eighteen months he was sent with his mother to Collierville, Tennessee, where they lived until he was five years old. Subsequently, they were sent to work on the Bond farm in Cross County, Arkansas. In Arkansas Anne Maben met and married William Bond, who gave Scott Bond his surname.

The family remained on the Bond farm until the conclusion of the Civil War when only months after gaining her freedom Anne Maben died leaving Bond in the care of his stepfather Bond his stepfather ...


Joseph P. Reidy

Bradley, Aaron Alpeora (1815?– October 1882), Reconstruction politician, was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, the son of unknown slaves on the plantation of Francis Pickens, a prominent politician. Little is known of Bradley’s youth and early manhood other than that he was a shoemaker for a time in Augusta, Georgia, and that he escaped slavery and made his way to the North, apparently during the 1830s. He lived for a time in New York and in Boston. In the latter city he not only met abolitionists but also studied the law and eventually became a practicing attorney.

The Civil War opened new horizons. Bradley returned south late in 1865 and settled in Savannah, Georgia, intending, it seems, to open a law practice and a school. Drawn inexorably to the public arena, he began to champion the cause of freedpeople who were resisting President Andrew Johnson ...


Penny Anne Welbourne

William Wells Brown was the son of Elizabeth, a slave on a plantation near Lexington, Kentucky. Because of his mother's status, William was also a slave, even though his father was the white half brother of the plantation's owner. While William was still an infant, his master, Dr. John Young, acquired a farm in Missouri, and the boy and his mother were taken there. At the age of eight, William worked as an assistant in Young's medical practice, where he continued to work until he was twelve. At that point the doctor was elected to the state legislature, and the young slave was forced to work in the fields.

Because Young was frequently in need of money he would lease William to other masters many of whom had overseers who beat and humiliated the young man One who did treat him well was Elijah P Lovejoy who published a ...


On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing nearly four million American slaves. But as black historian Lerone Bennett points out: “The freedpeople … were free—free to the wind and to the rain, free to the wrath and hostility of their former slavemasters. They had no tools, they had no shelter, they had no cooking utensils; and they were surrounded by hostile men who were determined to prove that the whole thing was a monstrous mistake.” In March 1865 the federal government created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, or the Freedmen's Bureau, as a temporary solution to these problems.

A few days after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about the oncoming wave of Southern blacks In farm wagons in coaches on horseback afoot and in buggies this second movement from Egypt to the promised land ...


Geraldine Rhoades Beckford

physician, businessman, and writer, was born in Madison County, Kentucky, the youngest of fifteen children of Eliza and Edwin, who were slaves. Burton and his mother remained on the plantation after Emancipation as paid laborers, and he continued working at the “old homestead” after her death in 1869 until he was sixteen, at which time he left following an altercation with the owner.

In 1880 Burton was “converted to God” and subsequently experienced an insatiable desire for learning. Despite discouraging comments from those who thought that twenty was too old to start school, Burton was not dissuaded and determined that nothing was going to prevent him from getting an education except sickness or death. Burton worked for one more year as a farmhand in Richmond, Kentucky. One January morning in 1881 he put a few items in a carpetbag and nine dollars and seventy five cents in his ...


John W. Pulis and David Simonelli

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the Caribbean from 1492 through 1895 The first article discusses the Caribbean slave trade the transmission of cultural identities and the Caribbean s influence on North America while the second article discusses the 1834 emancipation of slaves in the Caribbean and annual ...


Laura M. Calkins

lawyer, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of slaves Richard C. and Martha A. Chiles. Immediately following the end of the Civil War a public school for blacks, known as the “Freedmen's School,” was opened in Ebenezer Baptist Church on Leigh Street in Richmond, and Chiles's family arranged for his admission to the school at the age of six. Chiles's father, Richard, had emerged by this time as a leader of the African American community in Richmond. During the Civil War Richard Chiles had worked in the War Department of the Confederate States of America (CSA), whose capital was at Richmond. On 2 April 1865, while CSA President Jefferson Davis was attending a worship service at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Richmond's Capitol Square, Richard Chiles delivered to him a letter written by Confederate military commander General Robert E. Lee who was then at Petersburg ...

Primary Source

David Augustus Straker 1842 1908 was part of the generation of black Republican political leaders who for a brief time following the Civil War tried to mobilize African Americans to become more involved in the political process Straker received his law degree from Howard University in 1871 and worked as a clerk for the US Postal Service In a two day lecture excerpted below dated 13 14 April 1874 Straker addresses the congregation at Israel A M E Church and an assembly at the Pioneer Lyceum in Washington DC In it Straker stresses the need for black unity and cooperation something that would be a theme throughout his long career as a congressman and jurist Indeed twenty years later after the Reconstruction had collapsed and the Jim Crow era had forced out almost all black politicians Straker helped to organize the National Federation of Colored Men a precursor of the ...


Paul Finkelman

Immediately after the Civil War many of the defeated former Confederate states passed new laws known as black codes to control the recently freed slaves Some of the laws prohibited blacks from living in towns owning guns or dogs or testifying against whites in some trials Vagrancy laws required that former slaves have work contracts and allowed planters often their former masters to force them to labor if they did not have work contracts Blacks who committed minor crimes could be hired out to planters or forced to work on chain gangs If black parents were unemployed or deemed unfit in other ways their children could be seized and apprenticed until they turned eighteen The goal of all such laws was to reduce the freed people to a state as close to slavery as possible Congress authorized the Joint Committee on Reconstruction to investigate these laws as well as other ...


Alicia J. Rivera

Charles Sumner's proposed civil rights bill aimed to ensure that the rights of African American freedmen would be honored. Placed before the Senate on 13 May 1870, it was the first national desegregation measure in U.S. history. To Sumner, the Reconstruction measures already adopted did not provide blacks with the full range of rights to which, in his view, they were entitled as citizens. Sumner's bill called for an end to segregation of public accommodations, schools, and church organizations and for the right of African Americans to serve on juries. The first section reads:

All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations advantages facilities and privileges of inns public conveyances on land or water theaters and other places of public amusement subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to ...


James Brewer Stewart


Military and Diplomatic Course

Domestic Effects

Changing Interpretations


Elizabeth Regosin

During Reconstruction and for years afterward, African American women exercised their citizenship rights in a variety of ways, including pursuing military pensions from the United States Pension Bureau. The law of 14 July 1862 which was the basis of the Civil War pension system extended this fundamental right of citizenship recompense for serving one s country and the corollary right of widows and other dependent relatives to compensation for the loss of a provider to all eligible Union soldiers and their relatives regardless of race Considerable numbers of freedwomen and free women of color alike pursued pensions from the federal government However because the majority of African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War came from the South and had been enslaved the emphasis here is on the pension records of former slaves In significant ways freedwomen s experiences with the pension system reflected their experiences as citizens ...


The American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, took more than 600,000 lives, but brought freedom to four million African American slaves. The immediate and primary cause of the Civil War was the South's support for slavery and the North's increasing opposition to the practice. Several other economic and political factors, however, had conspired to make the issue of slavery of utmost importance to the future of the nation.



Graham Russell Hodges

The discussion of class among African Americans in the centuries before the industrial revolution encountered significant conceptual difficulties Did class as the philosopher Karl Marx described it exist among a people who were almost entirely enslaved African Americans were industrial laborers in parts of the early United States but the vast majority were agricultural workers whose skills and statuses seem superficially to have been interchangeable At the same time the great transformation occurring in white society from feudalism to capitalism entailed the commodification of money land and labor African Americans lives were inextricably entwined in each of these changes Undoubtedly exploitation helped create the capital value of landowner and merchant African Americans also made themselves African American slaves can be viewed as the first true proletarians in America A leading scholar of early African American business argues cogently that race not class was the key variable for African Americans Examination ...