African Americans treated unfairly
To the Journal editor:
After the Civil War, Congress enacted the Freedmen Bureau to assist America’s four million new black citizens.
What meant the most to landless ex-slaves was that the bureau acted to seize former plantation lands and divide them among the freedmen in modest parcels of forty acres. But this reform broke down under the weight of Southern resentment, lack of commitment by the president, and ultimately diminishing support of the Northern congressmen who had initiated them.
This mark the abandonment of the North in assisting blacks to separate from the powerful grip of the planters. The former slaves were understandably mistrustful of their defeated masters, fearing the whites would surely seek to re-enslave them.
Only one in 10 freedmen were literate, so the rest had to take the word of white bureau agents for what the postwar labor contracts actually said which allowed plantation owners to cheaply pay substandard wages.
Slavery by its racial nature provides the basis for white supremacy which made it easier to inflict economic hardship, racial violence, and denial of political rights. Southern whites truly believed that blacks were inferior.
By besides wanting to maintain cheap labor by the plantation owners, had another concern which was political. A real concern for elite whites was not only that blacks could vote in high numbers but they could unite with poor whites to significantly change the nature of southern politics.
Whites in the South sought to protect their political dominance by depriving blacks of the right to vote by poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses.
The Republican Party is taking advantage of slavery’s legacy by fermenting racism to southern white voters against African Americans. This is done by suggesting that poor whites are working hard but others are getting a free ride.