Americans. They yearned for integration into American society as citizens, yet the Southerners residing in the Confederacy did not welcome that idea. Their actions during the war changed its course and result. What began as a war to preserve the Union ended up being an ethical war to abolish slavery. Their roles during the Civil War in 1861 up to 1870 showed they were willing to fight for their freedoms, their loyalty to the country, and earn the respect of those opposing their dream. Despite their challenging pasts as slaves, African Americans remained undauntedly loyal
to the Union. When the idea of recolonization arose, (Doc B) the devotion of Black Americans of
Queens County, New York definitely showed through. They believed “...the call of our suffering country is too loud and imperative to be unheeded.” and their contributions could alter that state of turmoil. At this point of American history, blacks were identifying themselves as citizens and were willing to help in any way they offered themselves to aid the Union army. Recolonization at this stage of the Civil War could distract from the main focus of Union: reuniting the country as one. Their aim was not to become another Liberia, which was set up as a solution to the issue of “free blacks” earlier in the 19th century. Even though blacks still faced some discrimination on the battlefield, such as unequal pay, they were assembled in regiments and eventually made up 10% of the Union army. Political cartoons (Doc G) were used to demonstrate the status of African Americans during and after the Civil War. The sacrifices they made were depicted in these to add more proof of their devotion. Being admitted as soldiers into the army fueled the hopes of being considered a “citizen”.
The main goal of African Americans was to move forward from slavery and become
integrated into American society as citizens. With Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation
Proclamation in 1863, which freed slaves in areas of rebellion, African Americans were expanding their horizons. Education (Doc E) would be one of the steps taken to come closer to their goal. Children and adults alike were eager to learn. This would provide a stepping stone to obtaining more respectable jobs in country, despite competition from Irish Americans. The
Freedman’s Bureau was able to aid in furthering their education and employment. At the
Convention of the Colored People of Virginia of August 1865 (Doc H), black Virginians referred to themselves as “...citizens of this State...” and called for their suffrage. Three years later, in
1868, the 15th Amendment would grant African American men the right to vote since the
14th Amendment defined them as citizens. To further enforce their rights as citizens, African
Americans attended constitutional conventions. In a majority of the South, white delegates dominated, but Louisiana and South Carolina were exceptions. (Doc J). This was a way for them to make their mark in politics. A further consequence that affected their integration was the creation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866. This terror group victimized African Americans especially, as well as Republicans and Freedmen’s Bureau officials. The KKK did not see
Africans rightly belonging to society. They aimed to regain white supremacy.
How African Americans were perceived greatly depended on the section of the country.
Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler (Doc A) did not know at first what to do with slaves who had