2016 Essay Contest Honorable Mention, Junior Division
Morgan Thill, 7th Grade
Post-1865: Effects of the War
The Civil War was a disastrous event that had great effects on both our nation and its people. Perhaps the biggest effect of the Civil War was for the African Americans. They not only gained their freedom during Reconstruction, but they gained many new rights. These rights brought a new way of life for these former slaves.
On January 31, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed by Congress. This amendment declared that slavery was illegal throughout the United States. For most African Americans and abolitionists, this was a cause for great celebration. However, some were still not satisfied. Frederick Douglass said, “Slavery is not abolished until the black man has the ballot.” With this newly found freedom, couples legally married, and others searched for family members that they had been separated from.
In 1866, the southern states began passing Black Codes, which greatly limited the freedom of African Americans. These codes made Republicans angry, so finally they fought back. Republicans made the Civil Rights Act of 1866. In the passing of this act, African Americans gained the same rights as white Americans. President Andrew Johnson vetoed this act, but Congress overrode his veto. They were still afraid that the Civil Rights Act would be overturned. For this reason, the Republicans proposed the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment gave African Americans citizenship.
The final amendment made for African Americans and their rights was the Fifteenth Amendment. The Fifteenth Amendment gave African American men the right to vote. The Amendment went into effect in 1870 causing great joy for many African Americans.
The Reconstruction Era after the Civil War was a big turning point for African American rights. Little did they know, they would still have a very long road ahead of them.