Freed Slaves During & After Civil War

4 April 2015
Examines collapse of slavery & economic, social & racist pressures preventing ex-slaves from taking full advantage of their freedom.

Before, during, and after the Civil War, conditions for non-slaves and freed African Americans were directly related to the status of the institution of slavery. So long as the majority of black people in the South were enslaved, many of those who were free prospered. During the war, following the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans were in the unusual position of being technically free but, for the most part, having nowhere to go. Until the war ended, their economic survival often meant continuing their pre-war lives under only slightly different conditions–free, but still dependent. Reconstruction, which followed the war, was expected to change this situation. But, since Reconstruction finally offered almost no compensation to the freed slaves, their free labor and greater opportunities turned out to mean little at first. Life for freed slaves was.

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