In Search of African America:  One Collector's Experience January 17-March 21, 2004

The Civil War ended not with a bang but a whimper. The South had been defeated, but attitudes toward black people had not changed. Most African Americans had known only servitude before the war and after the war faced the challenge of building new lives in a society that still thought of them as chattel.

African Americans were assisted in their struggle for freedom by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. The Freedman's Bureau, as it was popularly known, assisted former slaves to acquire land, education and voting rights. These and other basic rights were codified in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution.

The so-called "Era of Reconstruction," 1865 to 1877, was a time of unprecedented freedom for black people in the South. Federal troops controlled state government and for the first time, African Americans were elected to state and federal legislatures.

It also was a time when African Americans received the right to worship as they pleased and to attend institutions of higher education. Howard University was founded in Washington, DC in 1867 as the first institution of higher education for African Americans. In 1870, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church was organized to give a special dimension for black worship.

African Americans enlisted in the U.S. army and in 1866, the army formed black cavalry and infantry regiments. These Civil War veterans served with distinction in the west where the Indians came to call them "Buffalo soldiers."

The election of Rutherford B. Hayes ended the social experiment known as Reconstruction and also ended the brief era of social and political equality for African Americans in the South. The military withdrew from the South in 1877, whites quickly returned to power, and many black people were forced into a form of servitude known as sharecropping.

The Price of Freedom: Reconstruction
1865-1877

 
The Price of Freedom section of the exhibit

In this photo:
--the Price of Freedom section of the exhibit.

 

 
This exhibit is divided into 10 sections

1. Introduction
--The James Hicks Collection

2. The Burden of Slavery, 1619-1861

3. The Civil War, 1861-1865
4. The Price of Freedom: Reconstruction, 1865-1877 (you are here)

5. Say Hello To Jim Crow, 1878-1897

6. Up From Slavery: The Self Help Period 1898-1919
7. The Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1946
8. The Civil Rights Era, 1947-1968
9. The Black Power Movement, 1968-1980
10. The Turn of the Century, 1981-2004
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