In history of America there are three activists who shares how Africa Americans suffered before rules were put in place to protect them. Brooker T. Washington, Du Bois, and Fredelick Douglass share their personal experience on how they were badly treated simply because they were African Americans.
Washington who was born a slave on a plantation say his life began in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discourage surrounding. His mother was plantation cook. He continues to explain that they were living on a very small “cubin” which was uncomfortable to live. Washing also argues that as a slave, he didn’t go to school because slaves were not given their rights and freedom. As time went Washington discovered that they were slaves and a discussion about the slaves was going on.
Du Bois who was a Renaissance man of African American also share his story. Dr. Du Bois believed in ideas and not slogans, principles not personalities were essential to elimination of many forms of bigotry and inequality that had perverted what he called “the idea of human brotherhood” in America. Du Bois played a very essential role in the organization of the Niagra movement.
African Americans and some whites were taken captives in United States. This kind of slavery life was perceived as legal institution until the implementation of thirteen Amendments to the United States constitution in 1865. Mostly, it was Africans who were taken slaves by the white, although there were rare cases where some whites were slaves. Also Naïve American and some few blacks who were free held slaves. Mainly these slaves were taken to big plantation where they could work under supervision of “overseers”. Farms which had more slave were more productive than the farms which did have slaves.
According to Lago and Katsari (2008) there were three systems which had been developed in British America, later in USA, under the favorable terms of the terms of the massive request for unskilled manual labor in the peripheries of the second globalization (p. 164). In United States slavery for life was not perceived as illegal from 1654 until 1865. The thirteen Amendments to the United States constitution prohibited slavery and forced labor, except in cases where it is applied as a punishment for a crime.
Slavery life resulted to civil war in the America; this led to American Revolution war which finally saw “declaration of independence”. Declaration of independence was a statement which meant that the American colonies then at war with Great Britain were finally independent. When making the “declaration of independence” Thomas Jefferson stated that “All men were created equal”. This statement means that each individual is born free and with equal dignity and every person equally deserves equal rights in every thing pertaining life.
During the declaration of independence in United States, the life, liberty, and pursuit to happiness phrase was applied to preach the freedom and condemn slavery which a major challenge. This phrase was drawn from the writing of known English philosopher John Locke who stated that “no person should harm another in his life, health, liberty or possession”
Virginia declaration of rights (1776) was the first statement explaining rights of citizens and the basic philosophy of government after declaration of independence in united sates of America. The acting revolutionary government during that time disbanded the colony’s former royal government and formed a committee which was given mandate setting rights and formation of new state. This declaration of rights started with Virginia, which influenced other states to also make their declaration of rights and federal bills of rights.
The bill of rights was drafted by George Mason around 1725 to 1792. He was a wealthy planter and also a political leader and is declaration put forward principles like the common sovereignty, the separation of powers, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, trial through jury, and security from unreasonable searches and unfair punishment. The good thing was that declaration based these rights in conception of natural law and social contract rather than the tradition liberties of British citizen or common law.
As stated on the “Charters of freedom” there were two sections which were amended in the thirteen amendments. These sections were; section 1 which stated “Neither slavery nor involuntary, servitude except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”. The second section was section two which stated “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation”
The thirteen and fourteen amendments of United States constitution has contributed so much in implementation of human right. Those who have benefited much are African American who were mostly slave. The constitution of America before the amendment it was not clear in defining the human rights. Due to these reasons African Americans were discriminated and were not treated equally as whites. This made them to feel uncomfortable living in a society which treated them unfairly.
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In fourteenth amendment there was equal protection clause which needed the state to offer equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions. Section one of the fourteenth amendments dealt deeply in defining the citizenship and also aimed at providing protection to person’s civil and political rights, from being abused by any authority. The primary aim of thirteen and fourteen amendments was to free slaves who were denied their rights such as; movement rights, denial of choice in entering into any labor contract and also the prevention for suing or appearing before court to testify.
African American have benefited through all the amendments of the united states constitution. In fifteenth amendment constitution prevents each government in the USA from refusing a citizen the right vote according their race, color or slavery. This amendment has given African American an opportunity to exercise their democratic rights, and choice the leaders of their choice.
Slavery was completely abolished following the approval of thirteen amendment of United States constitution. The complete revolution was somehow challenging and some armies continued to operate by enforcing the decrees of congress. In some parts of South America there were cases whereby freed slaves worked in similar conditions to those existing before the civil war. It was a big challenge for army to offer sufficient protection to slaves who had been set free. It was also noted that Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, who was Lincoln’s successor didn’t like ensuring the freedom of southern blacks.
Several meetings were held around the American campaigning for anti-slavery society. In 1865 there was such meeting, one month after the civil war, during which William Lloyd had requested the company to part since its objectives was achieved. Douglass differed with Garrison's suggestion, that "Slavery is not abolished until the black man has the ballot." It was clear that society voted to keep on the struggle for black rights, however many abolitionists quit the movement. The positive part of it was that, abolitionists were not only the ones who showed interest in giving blacks the right to vote.
The Republican Party was concerned that the Democrats would again become popular in the South. Republicans feared that, if this was to be the case then will not continue to dominate their position in congress upon return of southern states to the union. A group of republican senator under influence of senators; Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner seconded abolitionists in a campaign for black men rights. It was their assumption that most of the blacks would support republicans.
Douglass traveled to most parts of North America in 1865, campaigning out for the blacks and also cautioning the country that those who held slave had started regaining control of the south. In February 1866, Douglass addressed President Andrew Johnson on matters concerning equality. Douglass along with his son plus three other black leaders went to discuss with President Johnson concerning the needs on way of governance in southern states. During this talk president Johnson explained to the delegation how he wanted to support the interest of southern whites and obstruct voting rights for blacks. As a result of president position, they differed with Douglass, and both decided to take their cases to the American people.
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Even though president was on opposing side, Douglass continued to campaign for black rights with some success. Douglass campaign was very powerful and many people were behind him, while the position taken by president backfire and his effort to put up government in south that was controlled by confederate royalist did not work. Due to the difference which was there the republican-controlled congress started to go against the president’s plan for limited reconstruction of the southern state. Most republicans wanted rule to be enforced to ensure that former slaveholders were not powerful. Thaddeus Stevens was of view that large slaveholders needed to be broken up and the land be shared among the ex-slaves commonly referred as freedmen then.
Congress passed two bills over the president’s rejection. The first bill was the Freedmen’s bureau bill which extended the jurisdiction of government agency that was formed in 1865 purposely to provide medical, educational, and financial aid for most poor southern black. Congress also voted for the Civil Rights Bill, through which blacks acquired full citizenship, plus all other rights which were enjoyed by white Americans. Democrats and some conservative republicans, who supported President Johnson, planned to stop the movement for further black rights. In attempt of encountering the pressure from the democrats, republicans held a meeting in Philadelphia to support the resolution requiring for black suffrage. This convention meeting was attended by Douglass as a delegate from New York. Unfortunately, he faced much opposition from some Republican politicians, who were not ready to be associated with blacks or perceived to be on equal level.
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Despite these challenges, Douglass still went to the convention and spoke out for black suffrage. There were allegations that some white voters would not support the party associated with black and as an attempt to encounter this, the vote on resolution was made close. Douglass argued that convention held a more personal note. The movement for black suffrage grew spontaneously following the Philadelphia convention. President Johnson supporters were outnumbered, and congress passed the fourteenth amendment which purposely was to guarantee that the civil right bill was put into the constitution of United States. This amendment was lastly approved in July 1868 when all the states had approved it. The new amendment declared that no state was supposed to deny any individual his full rights as an American, however it not assure blacks rights to vote. Although in most states blacks were already voting.
In 1867, Douglass was challenged by President Johnson to take responsibility of the Freedmen’s Bureau; a position went with the responsibility of overseeing and administering all government needs of southern part. He was enticed by the offer, this was the first big post to be offered to a black man, but when he realized that by relating with the Johnson administration, he would be assisting the president portray the image of being the black man's friend, he turned down the offer to work under a man whose policies he challenged. As the time went by Douglass could tell that, Johnson days in office were numbered.
Republic party got a very overwhelming support in 1868, helping to capture the presidency. Having Grant in authority, the Fifteenth Amendment went through Congress and was handed to the states for approval. This amendment was a great achievement to blacks because it gave all citizens the right to vote regardless of their culture or race. However the implementation of this did not go without some challenges. Douglass got a lot of opposition from women suffragists when he tried to push the approval of this amendment. Women complaint that they were not given voting rights
Douglass began to persuade and convince woman suffragist there was urgent need to win voting rights for blacks without any further delay unlike in the case of women who could afford to wait. This was not enough to convince women, and some spoke against Douglass’s argument and his black suffrage. Douglass's association with the woman suffragists finally healed, but women would not be given the right to vote until 1920.
Another misfortune for Douglass happened in 1872, when his Rochester home burnt. Although none of his family members was hurt during this tragedy, there was a lot of damage like irreplaceable volumes of his newspapers which was destroyed. Despite many of his friends advising him to rebuild in Rochester, Douglass declined and moved his family to Washington DC.
In 1872, Douglass was back in politics campaigning for President Grant to be reelected. Despite the fact that most of his friends and more so the ones he respected like Senator Charles Sumner backed democratic candidate, Douglass decided to support President Grant. Grant was mostly criticized for not being able to deal with corrupt officers under his administration. One thing Douglass knew was that president needed strong friends in white house. Grant simply won the 1872 election, and Douglass was honored unexpectedly. To reward him Grant chose him to be one of the two electors-at-large from New York, the men who were responsible of carrying out the sealed envelope with the outcomes of the state voting to the capital.
Douglass was hit by third financial loss in 1874. It was during this year when he was offered and took the position of president of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company, which was a bank that had objective of encouraging blacks to invest and save their income. The outgoing management had made a lot of loans to speculators at extremely little interest rates. By Douglass was taking over the bank was almost collapsing.
Whenever Douglass went he kept on battling against humiliations that blacks were going through all over the country. When he saw any kind of discrimination practices in a restaurant, hotel, or railway car, he would go on and write. a letter to the local news paper. This made him to remain as the prime spokesman for black Americans. In 1875, he was applauded by Congress's course of the Civil Rights Bill, which ensured blacks were not discriminated in theaters, inns, and other public places.
In 1877, after the swearing in of the new Republican president, Hayes, Douglass was at long last rewarded with a political post, the mostly ceremonial position of marshal for Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, in order to court southern votes for the close presidential election of 1876, the Republicans decided to do away with the mass of the federal troops in the South. This right was given blacks after it was found that civil war could not be avoided in the southern states. Douglass was censured for accepting his post following the Republicans betrayal of their black supporters, but he viewed the appointment as simply another milestone for his people. And to demonstrate its dignity Douglass never at any time did he speak against the Republicans for abandoning blacks to the biased practices of the South.
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