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Collisions of Conflict

Studies in American History and Culture, 1820-1920


Jerzy Sobieraj

This book explores and analyzes the problems and challenges that have resulted from the Civil War, Reconstruction, slavery, and segregation in North America. These painful chapters in American history have continued along racial and regional lines and are of particular interest today when the USA are for the first time governed by an African American president. The postscriptum extends the main narrative by focusing on selected writers’ activities and fiction during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
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Chapter 4 Black Learning, Land, and Labor in the Reconstruction South


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Chapter 4

Black Learning, Land, and Labor in the Reconstruction South*

The Civil War was still well under way when President Abraham Lincoln started thinking about the post-war years. The Union, strengthened by the decisive victory at Gettysburg, had to have some plan of reconciliation, some idea what to do with the Southern states after the war was over. On December 8, 1863, Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which offered a pardon to any citizen of the former Confederate states who would take a loyalty oath to the Union. Any confiscated property, except for the slaves, would be returned to their owners. There were also citizens of the rebellious states excluded from the pardon, as, for instance, the Confederate Army officers of high rank. The states could be readmitted to the Union when at least 10 percent of the inhabitants of those who voted in the 1860 presidential election took the oath of allegiance. The proclamation did not consider in detail the future situation of freedmen, probably because Lincoln hoped that omitting this problem in the document would make his proposal acceptable to the South relatively quickly.

In the Proclamation, Lincoln declared

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