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One thing if the theme that has gone through Negro history it has been the theme of freedom are the quality of America standing up and living up to the bright promise of the Declaration of Independence. This is the essential American thing there was no theme in Negro life that is not a cream of American life because the Negro is the market to compete. Benjamin the liberals distinguish not just the Tory and the negro his are not the two groups that public schools in a series of talks they have in America not only come down to the period after the Civil War. Slavery is good. But many of the vestiges of slavery are going to evolve and we're going to see how some of those. Now when the war is over we get to a period which we call reconstruction. Now this is a misnomer like so many words we use in history you are going to weaken you're going to
have a new change. People like to say reconstruct it or we're going back to something that was that you move in a new direction so that terminology can get you in a lot of trouble. But some terms have been so accepted that we understand what period we're talking about reconstruction the period right after the Civil War. These 11 Southern states have that the union we never had an experience like that in America. How should they get back into the you think their successor Johnson considered that a presidential function. However Congress considered it a function of Congress to readmit these 11 Southern states by Congresses Republican the Republican Party was a new party backed Republican Party in 1864 ran a union party they didn't even use the word Republican. They're a new party how can they ensure their paramour. One of the ways they can ensure their permanence of course is by having me go in the south so that they hide much of their
thinking is going to be in congressional reconstruction. The need for our negro guards to keep a party in political power. Now one of the things across the Congress just before Lincoln died is to establish the so-called weedman Bureau of freedmen refugee the band and the Friedmans PR which was to enable the slaves and whites to in the South to make a transition in this trying period and the Freedmen's Bureau operates for seven years evaporate to elaborate past that it gives legal advice. This was one of the great agencies that helped the former slaves and white to. The South had been devastated. Now the real measure that Congress had in mind as it deliberated we had many of the Southern states with the 14th Amendment the 14th Amendment was passed in Congress without committee and it was passed by Congress in 88 66 and then it of course would
go to the states. The man now the 14th Amendment was very revolutionary it was pathbreaking this point even with deserves one minute of tension because it begins by defining a sort of friendship. Who is that. But the 40 the man goes on and says this is significant where no state has the nod to any of us that is an equal protection of law on each other neither life liberty or property without due process of law. Now these are great these are great phrases meant of course to protect the negro perhaps also to protect big businesses many people part which was a corporate person. But notice these tremendous phrases for the first time in history a state is told what it cannot do. Now you can imagine the South's attitude the South of Market the war but the South had to basically change the war was an awful thing that those in the South had realized this. So that 10 to be 11 Southern states rejected.
The 40 the man. Now when they rejected the party the man of the cross this was just what the radicals of the Republicans in Congress wanted because it enabled them to pass a more stringent measure and therefore one of the Southern states rejected the 14th Amendment by great majority. Then it was that Congress having one of the great congressional elections over Andrew Johnson 1866. Then it was a Congress on March the 2nd 1867 passed the breast reconstruction. Now this reconstruction acted by the South into five military districts. Now imagine a proud state of the Genya being designated military district number one under a general military law. Now the song was divided by ability or districts and they were told they would have military rule until they drew up a new constitution. And in these constitutions you would have to guarantee equal suffrage which was what the Republicans wanted. And then after getting these new
constitution you would then have to ratify the 14th Amendment which you would just rejected. Now this was followed crown of star. That the star of course had this better pill to swallow but they had to do it otherwise the generals you see would be there. You wanted to get out from under the general generals and therefore the south past the drop the new constitutions which provide for equal suffrage. Now this meant of course that it is 10 reconstructed southern state. There were there would be a period from four to ten years in which Republicans and negroes would be in control of the Republican negro regimes we make our own by hyphenated would be in control of the government and this is the period we generally think of as the period of reconstruction. Now one or two words only about these last two. That is the Negro in politics in this period for
roughly 10 years now under these Republicans because of course many Democrats have been disenfranchised. Republicans had Negroes are voting and therefore they would vote of course for the party of Abraham Lincoln naturally they would vote Republican the Republican then that person to the group that had done all this so that you get these 10 Southern States the so-called reconstruct a state in which for a period you would have Republicans appear Republicans and of course they were supported by the Negroes who voted. Now one of the things that people are noticing for example about reconstruction. Is these new state constitutions that were drawn up. Went by under the act of March 2nd 1867 when you had to permit Negroes to send back the delegates to the Constitutional Convention and many of the delegates were Negroes themselves and start to up new state constitutions. Now as one looks at the state constitution for the first time we see in Southern history tradition made for a free public school.
Not one thing in the state constitutions for the frist time three unanimous suffrage. The South didn't have that this is what since people can vote when they're 21 they don't have to have property they don't have to belong to a special church. These are new constitution all forms of punishment like the branding iron and the whipping post. They were done away with the new constitution Smole whom Stead's represent from taxes taxation in the new state constitutions so that we look up to look at the ten new state constitutions drafted by these. Republican negro regimes if we call them that. We would see innovations which the South made for the made for great drivers in the south. But they did have one that knocked a speech or however to the white Southerners and that means those providing for equal suffrage unequal accommodations and as long as things which are going to be dropped in the constitutions when the Southerners of course even
a negro Republican regime. Now one other thing we made no spend just a minute on a negro Congressman. There were twenty two negroes in this period who go to the Congress of the United States 20 of them go to the house and to go to the Senate of the United States so that we do have Negro congressmen. Now the studies are made of these Negro congressmen we get it right in new pictures now some of these Negro congressmen 10 of them have been banned slavery it is true. But when we look at American life generally because I may say that 10 of these Negroes have had college training. When we look at the people there we must compare them with their contemporaries like so many things you know Mark in life when we look at my naivety. We're proud to look at him by himself and other contacts. For example if we said there were a few Negro politicians during Reconstruction that were corrupt. Well that's obvious. There are always going corruption is
endemic particularly after a war that that period at the server was been called The Year of good Steve. I mean really. So that you were Ron's breed corruption and National right now if you're going to look at reconstruction in the style to say you see these two as we Negroes were overcharging the government in our doing a thousand dollars this is looked at by a sour look at where that where we don't see what's going on the whole country the tree ring in the salary graph when you look at one thing buying stuff. And try to categorize this and say this is typical of the whole thing. This is when so frequently we see a thing completely out of context. Now if we say that many of these negroes were not college trained and Johnson the president at the time learn to read when he was a man he learned to read. Now if you say a Negro was in Congress and he just began to read lately they don't tell you that Abraham Lincoln never went to college.
He set himself up in his own conventional bank that he wrote himself. He had schooling behind us. All but he did it by five very little that's Abraham Lincoln who was selected by historians as the greatest of the president. Now what college training. And yet people say about Negroes who sat in Congress he didn't have college straight of course none of them did. One of them had been Robert B.A. and had been educated at Oxford. And some of them spoke other languages. But you see what we do in reconstruction other times we select a press in which we say is a prototype of a whole group. It's a corruption wasn't damning because this man was corrupt and yet another man who was a good school superintendent who never stone a stain of any kind to elect a record of integrity which a school built on such as the Louisiana did with a grade school superintendent William G Brown for seven years. Negro school superintendent for the whole state.
Nothing is said but that that be a corrupt press and people say this isn't damage. But when you look at reconstruction there for and look at the qualification of the congressman. We would see that in education they would compare favorably with the typical American of the town I think leaves a residue it leaves something with it just like slavery left a residue in segregation in the ideas of both and slavery still dominate in American right. So when is the reconstruction needs then they can now the growth of the great legacy of the region which is only being breached in our time by Mr Goldwater and others in the end that is the star became a one party section. History and not geography made the south far south became solidly Democratic activity sadly because all you had to do was mention those Republicans the Republican Party becomes Messiah hissing in a byword so to speak until they are on my dime.
This has been the legacy of reconstruction but other legacies of growth the resentment against negro stuff. That's why when we meet the 60s with our old 60s 1960s we're going to need the Civil Rights Act. Briefly tomorrow because we'll see that out there for things are ways of reconstruction when Negroes in the state legislature occupied the judges you say this to them is contrary to their history it was imposition from the outside. Now the sun therefore has had a hasn't had and still has of course this attitude toward this is one of the residue of the attitude of the negro as a voter. One of the picks died in the southern frame of mind. We can only understand some of these points of resistance we can only understand historically and that's why we noticed this particular point. 90 not to say that the fact that Benny nodded his cane in the
style carpetbaggers came in the style that many people came in the South after the Civil War some of the statements out. These were the ones of course who allied themselves to the Republicans to ally themselves with the newly enfranchise Friedman and these went to the south side. Other slogans always got misunderstood. Put up on persecuted as we indicated previously. Now this intensify the great beating of the South had outsiders interfering with one of the worst things one can do with it by taught them how to vote on anything I do anything they resent more than anybody else any outside intrusion. Now reconstruction strengthen that here were people Congress living in Washington people dictating what the South should do with this is contrary to the history they would prefer actively a stroppy south run by Southerners and this is a natural breeding in many ways.
Then maybe month run by somebody else and they've got a reconstruction of the period when baby didn't run although many of them did of course many of the so-called Southern right down and much of this legislation benefited the rights of great they never did I think that the Reconstruction period as ruled by people who came from other parts of the country and were now foreigners in a way and this intensified without feeling that the rest of the country never understood it and the rest of the country tended to put up of we have been listening to Professor Benjamin Quarles speaking on the Negro American. The series of broadcast was produced by station W. DTI by the Department of Education of broadcasting for the Detroit public schools. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The negro American
Reconstruction and the Negro
Producing Organization
Detroit Public Schools
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: WDTR
Producing Organization: Detroit Public Schools
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-30-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:15:27
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Chicago: “The negro American; Reconstruction and the Negro,” 1968-11-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2024,
MLA: “The negro American; Reconstruction and the Negro.” 1968-11-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 12, 2024. <>.
APA: The negro American; Reconstruction and the Negro. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from