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Book Review: The Black Codes of the South
Although this book is titled, “The Black Codes of the South,” the writer begins his story discussing slavery, then leads up to emancipation, where four million slaves were freed. The freedom of slaves brought about the enactment of the Black Codes in the southern states. Interestingly, the writer includes newspaper sources from the South, as well as the North, excerpts from various plantation owners ‘diaries, notices and laws. The Black Codes came to fruition because the Southerners needed them as laborers , and because the free Negros were not anxious to sign contracts, the South labeled them as idle and vagrants and came up with special laws regarding their liberties.
An interesting, conflicting article was written by The Houston Telegraph, in which it wrote that the slaves were not working and had deserted landowners. However, several paragraphs later, the article went on to say that the trains were so loaded with cotton that they could not keep up (Wilson 54). This book covered many viewpoints, observations, opinions and happenings in the South during 1865-1866 with detailed accounts from various sources. Wilson, Theodore B. The Black Codes of the South. Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1965. Print.
Book Review: Slavery and the Making of America
This book covers slavery from the African roots in Colonial America to the freedom of slaves. At the end of slavery, the author pointed out an interesting fact that has been mentioned in other material only as a rumor. The rumor/fact is that at the end of the Civil War, there was federal control over confiscated Confederate land. For reasons unknown (I suspect political), Congress was unsuccessful in passing legislation which would have granted this land, which consisted of thousands of acres, to former slaves.
If this had been passed, former slaves would not have been dependent on landowners and the black codes may have never been enacted. The writer also touches on how landowners got their labor force back – by sharecropping and the credit system, which seems to be eerily similar to the ‘company store’ in the coal miners days. When credit was due from sharecropping and the negro did not get what was promised, he would say, “You know how that was. You dassent dispute a [white] man’s word then” (Litwack 448). Overall, some interesting and new information, especially, the landowners’ interaction with the free Negro, was gleaned from reading this book.
Horton, James Oliver and Horton, Lois E. Slavery and the Making of America. Oxford University Press, 2005. Print
E-Source Review: Black Codes
This article was helpful in understanding some of the politics leading up to emancipation and the Black Codes. Because President Johnson supported states’ rights and ultimately gave the states the freedom to rebuild their own governments, the southern states were able to enact the Black Codes. The codes varied from state to state, and while they granted some freedoms, they certainly restricted many more. The writer states a hard truth when he writes that a political system was made up of white, ex-Confederates, and enforced by white police, thereby ensuring that blacks would never have a voice (History.com). This article concludes with informing the reader that even in 1877, there was little improvement in the economic and social conditions of the black people. “Black Codes.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, LLC. n.d. Web. 7 Sept. 2012. <http://www.history.com/topics/black-codes#a1>.
E-Source Review: Presidential Impeachment Proceedings
In this article, we learn more about President Johnson, his political role, and the events leading up to his impeachment. The article begins with a brief biography of President Johnson, who although, never attended school, had a skill for public speaking, which led him to politics and in Lincoln taking notice of him. In December 1865, the Radical Republicans (a foe of Johnson), gained control after Congress denied the southerners representatives seats. By April of 1866, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act in response to the Black Codes, leading to power struggles and name calling between Congress and President Johnson.
Congress also over-rode some of Johnson’s vetoes, further limiting his power. As Johnson got further out of control, a special committee voted to impeach him on the grounds of “high crimes and misdemeanors” (History.com). After reading this article, I came to the conclusion that perhaps Johnson was a ‘southern sympathizer’ who indeed deserved impeachment. “Presidential Impeachment Proceedings.” History.com. The History Place. n. d. Web. 12 Sept. 2012. <http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/impeachments/johnson.htm>
E-Source Review: Trial By Fire, A People’s History of the Civil War and Reconstruction This article details some of the Black Codes enacted by various southern states. Although as sad as it was to read these laws, it is important that it be known so history does not repeat itself. The Black Codes have been likened to slavery, only worse in some states. In South Carolina, for instance, black men could not practice any trades except husbandry. South Carolina meant to keep the free blacks working their fields.
The writer points out that the freedmen would not work and showed violence towards their former owners. The South was trying to maintain its identity – and they perceived slavery as part of their identity. It was, to the south, a right that they believed in and fought for until they were finally forced to uphold the laws. The author helps the reader to understand the many Black Codes of the South, by providing detailed descriptions of the codes for various southern states. Smith, Page. “Trial By Fire, A People’s History of the Civil War and Reconstruction.” Civil War Potpourri. 15 Feb. 2002. Web. 7 Sept. 2012. <http://www.civilwarhome.com/blackcodes.htm>.