old history essay on the lives of black americans- 2007 (13yrs old)

Do you agree that the lives of black Americans improved after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 up until 1900?

Abraham Lincoln (February 12th 1809- April 15th 1865) was elected as the sixteenth president of the USA on November 6th 1860. He wanted to abolish slavery. This worried the south that depended on slaves to work on their plantations. 

Some southerners decided they would break away and create their own country, but President Lincoln and the northern states said that this was not allowed, which started a war between the northern and southern states in 1861-1865.

During the civil war president Lincoln passed the emancipation proclamation, freedom announcement, in 1862 and another in 1863. It stated that all slaves should be freed.

 The Northern states won the war and in 1865 slavery was abolished but did this help improve the lives of black Americans?

I believe that their lives did not improve. The civil war set slaves free but didn’t put an end to racial discrimination. Many Southern Americans continued to discretely bring back laws discriminating blacks from their rights (e.g. the Jim Crow laws). Theoretically they were free but still the Southern states pressed the issue and further carried on bad treatment towards blacks. Rights were established but not immediately implemented (put into practise). They have started to introduce the issue that slaves should be freed and have abolished slavery but they still have more pressing issues upon the matter that need to be resolved such as the treatment towards black Americans and the pride of whites and how they are continuing to discriminate blacks from their rights as human beings.

On the other hand their lives improved in as much as they weren’t forced to work under treacherous conditions, they were set free and gained some rights but not many.

In some ways the lives of black Americans improved due to some rights which helped slaves start to become more equal to whites, slaves were also freed and able to do what they pleased, the states may introduce more civil rights in the future if they have already abolished slavery, the states had begun to develop and had started to put slavery to an end. Fundamentally their lives did improve as the weight of freedom overweighed the fact that they were neglected and mistreated.

Many black Americans were positive about the freedom and expressed their feelings verbally such as: -


“Niggers shoutin, and clappin’ hands and singin’! Chillun runnin’ all over the place beatin’ time and yellin’! Everybody happy. Sho’ did some celebratin’. Run to the kitchen and shout in the window: ‘Mammy, don’t you work no more. You’s free! You’s free!”

(Fannie Berry, a teenage slave)


This source tells us that they were most relieved that they were finally free. After a long period of time of working they could finally do what they wished and serve no more ill mannered whites. It tells us that the news made most Black Americans happy. Many other sources tell us that they were overwhelmed by the news, and were in sheer contentment over the fact that they were free at last, for example: -

“I remember hearing my pa say that when somebody came and hollered, ‘You niggers is free at last,’ he just dropped his hoe and said in a queer voice, ‘ Thank god for that.’

This meant that some Black Americans lives improved. They got what they desired and after all that time they could now walk freely and have some equality with whites. They could work for themselves and anticipated working in cheerful conditions far from being whipped, tortured, having their children taken from them. They would not be forced to work such long hours and days with little necessary supplies. They had the choice to do what they wanted with their lives instead of being beaten into doing something they loathed.

The situation improved as time went on as they won some rights. In 1865-1877 reconstruction in the Southern states was starting to be applied and in 1868 there was a 14th amendment, stating blacks became US citizens, protected by the law. This helped blacks gain confidence over the fact that no one was allowed to harm them because of the law. In 1870 the 15th amendment earned blacks the right to vote, this let black people gain the right to freedom of speech, and to express their own opinions on different topics. Many of these rights gave blacks a chance to let both races become equal and make the world fairer and less prejudiced. It helped them work their way up in the world, and eventually after a long period of time made both races start to become equal and just towards one another. This helped their lives improve and after time it became better for these reasons. In one way you could argue that their lives did improve, but not fully.

In some ways the lives of Black Americans did not improve. This was partly due to some racial white southerners that caused much grief to Blacks. The south introduced a new system that excluded blacks from certain places and to do certain things. Many southern whites had taken advantage or exploited Blacks and secretly reaped the benefit from them. Many southerners lied to blacks in order to use them for their own benefit. This was why most blacks hated the fact that whites thought they were free when really they were constantly being forced and controlled by southern whites.

Many black Americans were pressurised into a new agricultural system, known as sharecropping, that offered blacks a small section of land provided by plantation owners. The plantation owners had agreed to section off small parts of their land in order to request in return for a third or half of the black Americans crop. They did this by persuading the state that they were helping but really they just wanted complete power over blacks in order to get what they wanted. The black Americans had no choice but to accept as they had no money, which meant they couldn’t afford the proper equipment in order to invest in their own living. The southern whites knew they had no option but to work for them and as planned had taken half or a third of the poor blacks land. The southern whites prejudice against blacks and pride overruled the fact that blacks were human beings to them. The black Americans lives were hard because they permanently had their lives in the hands of the southern whites who wanted the worst for them. The blacks could never gain enough money to invest in their own living and also provide enough supplies for their family. This made it very difficult not to be a sharecropper. This did not improve the Black Americans lives as they were always controlled and pushed into things that they objected to. This is one reason that their lives did not improve.

Many innocent blacks were harmed by an organisation called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), which started in 1865, who were supposedly ‘harmless’ according to Washington DC, June 1868. Important white people such as politicians, police officers and officials were in this group.  The KKK was a group of racial whites in white robes that came out at night to threaten, violently abuse or murder blacks. They didn’t accept blacks as equal citizens and their aim was to ensure white superiority. People allowed this group to carry on, as the black and white politicians were afraid to stand up for the Black citizens rights. The group was very determined and certainly hated the thought of Black people being freed so they decided to set out to make sure their opinion was shown. They did this by killing thousands of innocent blacks in order to gain power and scare Blacks, which they succeed in doing.

  ‘A congressional Committee on violence says that it is believed that the Ku Klux Klan has killed thousands of black people’

Experts from newspapers of the time

The source is evidence enough that the KKK did kill thousands of Black people and that people let it happen even though because they were scared and afraid that they may be harmed.

 This made life problematical for Black citizens, as they were being punished, abused, murdered and emotionally hurt because whites hated the thought of blacks becoming equal to whites. Black Americans could not escape from these acts that had taken place. Sadly they had no hope and may need to realise that they needed to persevere through the racial discrimination so that they could gain fair and equal treatment. This did not improve their lives because they had either witnessed or heard about all the terrible acts by the KKK. Some gave up hope and many feared for their lives and others. This is reason enough that their lives did not improve.

In 1896 the United States Supreme Court made a decision that a new system called the Jim Crow laws would be introduced as a way of discrimination against blacks and the segregation of whites and blacks. These laws were legal according to the United States Supreme Court. These laws did not help deduct the problems of equality, as it was just another way to make sure segregation was kept and that blacks would continue to be second-class citizens.

  These laws were normal and lasted for 58 years in many parts of America. The black citizens had to abide to the law as the court made it clear that it was legal for facilities to be separate for blacks and whites. The words the court used when someone objected was ‘separate but equal’ which meant that they still thought it was equal for blacks but it was far from it. When the southern states heard this judgement they made sure they would take as much advantage as possible. Soon after this judgement by the court the south made sure they covered every aspect of life and made sure it was separated. Blacks were stopped from using the same restaurants, hotels, theatres, cinemas, schools, residential areas, armed forces and the American Red Cross kept black peoples blood separated. The blacks weren’t allowed to object as it was the law and people had to obey it. In some cases they had made laws so it was harder for the blacks to vote. They had two methods to stop them from voting; one was a matter of expense and another of education.

‘Poll tax: A tax on every person that many poor blacks could not afford to pay. Failure to pay meant they were not allowed to vote’.

‘Literacy tests: People had to explain the meaning of a legal document in order to qualify to vote. Blacks who dared to take the test were nearly always said to have failed it’.

This source is proof that they secretly tried to bring back laws that weren’t directly pointed at blacks but secretly were there so blacks had less chance of having the right to vote. This was a prejudice from whites to the blacks.

 Also every where blacks went to try to escape they found themselves being faced with whites who thought that the black workers were competition for their jobs and even in the North they found this. The blacks were always faced with fresh accusations and judgements inflicted upon just because of the colour of their skin. They were also often considered second-class and were definitely treated different because of this.   

 This did not help or improve the lives of blacks as every advantage they received, the southern whites blocked in one way or another so they were still treated with little respect and always made sure that they were classed as second-class citizens.

I conclude that in some ways black Americans lives had improved after they were freed, as they were able to gain some rights and after time it became enhanced for the reasons I have explained. On the other hand you could argue that in some ways their lives didn’t improve due to prejudice from the whites to the blacks and every right they received it was blocked in a way that was unable to be stopped for the reasons I have explained previously.

 In some ways it didn’t improve but in other areas it started to increase the chance of equality between races as they did actually allow slaves to be free and they are already giving Blacks rights, so if they have already done that surely after more time it will develop and end in the connecting of whites and blacks together with equal rights and fairness. The amendments can be changed which changes the basis of everything but it takes time for people’s attitude to change. You can set a new standard for whites to aim for but some southern whites remained in their own prejudice. For some whites it’s harder and they needed more time to adapt to the changes and get out of their own prejudice.

Overall I disagree that the lives of black Americans improved. I believe that generally their lives did not improve. The civil war set slaves free but didn’t put an end to racial discrimination. Many Southern Americans continued to discretely bring back laws discriminating blacks from their rights (e.g. the Jim Crow laws). Theoretically they were free but still the Southern states pressed the issue and carried on bad treatment towards blacks. The mistreatment that continued towards blacks when they were freed was unacceptable and their lives certainly didn’t dramatically change because of the rights they were given.

Harri   Harri wrote
on 11/16/2014 9:57:44 AM
Thankyou soooooooooooooooooo much for this it really helped me understand what to write. I thank you soooooooooo much. You are so kind and amazing. Thankyou. xxxx

on 3/18/2010 5:20:10 PM
This is a very good essay for 13 yrs old!!! It was perfect to refresh my memory...Thank you, girl! Oh, I have a question for you, how do you say "WHO KILLED THE ROOSTER?" in French? It's just for my writing...Thank you again.

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Basis of essay: Do you agree that the lives of black Americans improved after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 up until 1900?
A Word from the Writer
An essay from school in england when i was 13 yrs old - so please keep it in mind i was quite young!
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