Testimony of Lawson B. Davis:- Klan Terrorism in the South (1872)

“The contents of the oath, as near as I can remember were that female, friends, widows and orphans were to be objects of our protection and that we were to support the Constitution as it was bequeathed to us by our forefathers; and there was to be opposition to the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments.”

The main purpose of the Ku Klux Klan was to get as many as white people as possible on their side in plain opposition to black people gaining rights. They did so by recruiting most fit people on bases of how well organized they already were. Being a social movement it became an advantage to the Klan as they were able to recruit large numbers. As Lawson states in his testimony he thought he was joining a different organization but it happened to be the same as the KKK, this only proves that some recruitments were tricks into getting more people to their side. They believed they were protecting their own race by opposing the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. Black people were therefore deprived of being able to vote for someone to represent them as whole in order to gain rights that seemed fair to them. The motives of the KKK basically put a stop to the main purpose of reconstruction, which was to end slavery and create a new country without conflict between the North and South. The Klan gave people the notion that it was socially as well as politically correct to terrorize humans that weren’t the same color as them and to strip them of their rights. They were against the Union League and the Radical Republicans who sought to help blacks receive the rights they deserved, by threatening them.

Jourdon Anderson, Letter to My Old Master (1865)

“Our earnings would amount to $11,680. Add to this the interest for the time our wages been kept back and deduct what you paid for our clothing and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are entitled to. “

After the Civil War had ended, the idea of paying for what used to be free labor was too absurd for former Confederates to accept. But, for these ex-masters, who have grown accustomed to having others work for them, work seemed like an impossible task. So, masters like Colonel P.H Anderson would attempt to coerce their former slaves with promises that they would be treated better than how they were treated in the past. But, how much of their old master’s words are true? Probably none.

The Blacks were humans and not “property”, so they do not deserve the same treatment that they received in the past. For Jourdon Anderson, his ex-master pointed a gun at him and if it weren’t for the neighbor, Jourdon would not have been able to write this reply. So, it is hard imagining someone like Colonel P.H Anderson to be able to offer a better life to someone who he almost killed. Naturally Jourdon Anderson suspects this offer and decides that he will not answer until Colonel P.H Anderson shows that he is sincere by paying off the debt that he owes Jourdon and his wife. So, if the former Confederates are truly sorry for what they have done in the past, then such steps are necessary as an apology.

Civil Rights of the Black (1865)

“Be it enacted,…That all freedmen, free Negroes and mulatto may sue and be sued, implead and be impleaded, in all the courts of law and equity of this State and may inquire personal property…by descent or purchase, and may dispose of the same in the same manner and to the same extent that white persons may: Provided, That the provisions of this section shall not be so construed as to allow any freedman, free negro, or mulatto to rent or lease any lands or tenements except in incorporated cities or towns, in which places the corporate authorities shall control the same…”

Finally…after four years of war from 1861-1865 the slaves were freed. However this was far from the kind of freedom that we have today. The rights that the Blacks had were nowhere close to the rights that the white people had. Even with the rights to vote and own property they were faced with white supremacy. The black codes as a whole is used to restrict the freedom of the black population. In this section of the black codes it describes how the blacks are being controlled by limiting the areas where the freedmen could own land. In other parts of the Black Codes it gives the freedmen freedom but it also greatly limits the amount of rights that the freedmen have. Black people during the time of reconstruction were no longer slaves but were not completely free either. This was because of white supremacy. Because of the common belief at that time that the black people were subservient to the whites it led to many conflicts. It also gave rise to the KKK (a racist organization against the rights of black people).



Sojourner Truth, Address to the First Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Association (1867)

“I feel that if I have to answer for the deeds done in my body just as much as a man, I have a right to have just as much as a man. There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored women; and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before. So I am for keeping the thing going while things are stirring; because if we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get it going again.


The victory in the Civil War led to emancipation and freedom for the slaves. This meant that they would be set free from all legal, social, and political restrictions just like the whites. In short, this means blacks have the same rights and equality as the whites regardless of gender, race, or color right? Not so fast. Sojourner Truth spoke out in a meeting of the American Equal Rights Association in 1867 to advocate granting suffrage to black women immediately. She claims that the equal rights movement had led to black men achieving new and more rights than black women, which extended suffrage to black men. She uses this as motivation to help award hardworking, and deserving black women, just like herself, more rights. She thinks black men get more attention than black women  and therefore black men winning new rights. This clearly shows black men have more power and control in society than black women. It will be just as bad as slavery because black men will be the head of the household and have control over black women with their newly awarded powers and rights. If they don’t speak out or make an example, nothing will change and it will keep going downhill from there. Black women deserve their rights just as much as black men. Women’s suffrage is a necessity and a requirement in society.

Klan Terrorism in South Carolina by Lee Guidon 1872

From the testimony of Harriet Postle “We are men of peace…”

After the Civil War, African Americans tried to find a way to live in a community where they can live freely and be treated fairly. It was hard for them with the hostile environment they lived in. The creation of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Black Codes made it harder for African Americans to live as freed slaves. In a testimony by an African American woman, Harriet Postle, she explained how a dozen of men entered her home wanting to kill her husband. Although her husband wasn’t home at the moment the men tried to enforce their authority and try to stop Harriet from lying and accusing her of covering for her husband. No matter how many times she stated that her husband wasn’t home, these men insulted and abused Harriet. In order for her to confess the whereabouts of her husband the men stated “We are men of peace…” This quote itself was ironic. A dozen men had entered this woman’s home with their faces covered and harmed, insulted, and threatened Harriet and her family and they had stated that they were men of peace. As Harriet was on the stand, her attorney asked if she could identify the men that broke into her home. She stated she could and pointed to a man that she had seen around her neighborhood.

The social life of a freed slave was not something that came with ease. The struggle to try to fit within a society that doesn’t want to associate themselves with you was hard. Although African Americans were promised that they wouldn’t have to return to slavery and that they will be able to live as equals, there was no guarantee. The chances that the men that broke into Harriet Postle would be charged were very slim. The society that African Americans lived in was predominately white and their equality was never fair but more in favor of the whites. Not only was there no fairness but trust was diminishing as well. Harriet was able to identify the man that broke into her home. That man she would probably see almost every day and he was the cause of her suffering within her home. The trust that existed between African Americans and whites was pretty much nonexistent due to the fact that the white men and women did not agree with slavery being free and were displeased with the result of African Americans being treated equally. The social life of an African American was hard, due to the fact that they had no one to rely on. The justice system wasn’t in favor of them, society did not like them and they were poor. They had to build on their own and it was hard because there were people like the KKK that did not want to see them succeed.




Organization and Principles of the Ku Klux Klan (1868)

“First: To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless, from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal; to relieve the injured and oppressed; to succor the suffering and unfortunate…”

In the Reconstruction/Antebellum South, many former slave-owners and Confederate veterans had a tough time adjusting to living in what seemed like a new world for them. The people they had considered “property” a few years earlier  were considered to be socially, politically, and economically equal. The racist white men of the South were so afraid of black people, that they created an organization to “protect” themselves and their families from the “the lawless, the violent, and the brutal”. They were simply trying to intimidate the newly freed slaves in order to maintain dominance over them. The social, economic, and political change that resulted from the end of the Civil War was a major change for the South and the people that lived there. Lots of people weren’t ready for this change and were determined to keep some sort of dominance over the newly freed slaves, the KKK was an example of one of these attempts.

New York Times, from The Late Convention of Colored Men (1865)

“We are sheep in the midst of wolves’ […]  Do not then, we beseech you, give to one of thesewayward sisters’ the rights they abandoned and forfeited when they rebelled until you have secured our rights by the aforementioned amendment to the Constitution.”

The end of the civil war marked the end of slavery.  However, despite their new found ‘freedom’, the blacks still didn’t have many basic rights and felt like “sheep in the midst of wolves.”  As the very same people who they had fought against during the Civil War have been pardoned and granted amnesty, the blacks have been left to the mercy of “subjugated, but unconverted rebels.”  They go on to argue that the way to protect themselves is for the government to set in place laws to prevent discrimination against race and color, as well as the right to vote.  As many black troops had fought alongside the white men in the war, they deserved their rights just as much as the whites did.

Jourdon Anderson, Letter to My Old Master (1865)

“I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here; I get $25 a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy (the folks here call her Mrs. Anderson), and the children; milly, Jane, and Grandy, go to school and are learning well…we are kindly treated…if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.’’ 

As Jourdon Anderson wrote in the letter, tells his master the salary he got, the environment they live. And he reply his master for  going back to work  by first ask what benefit he will get. Like salary, a place to live, an education for their children and also the money Jourdon and his wife should deserve for past working. This could clearly show now the black were not a property any more. They could express their thought and have equal right to ask for salary, to have own thought and right to decide what they want or don’t want to do. And this changes society’s economic and political. Black children could have same opportunity to educate. Whites need to pay the money for black to work, and learn to respect black.

Black Codes of Mississippi 1865

What were the Black Codes ?


“...All contracts for labor made with freedmen,free Negroes and mulattoes for a longer period than one month shall be in writing ,and in duplicate,attested and read to said freedman,free negro,or mulatto by a beat,city or county officer,or two disinterested white persons of the county in which  the labor is to be performed,of which each party shall have one;and said contracts shall be taken and held as entire contracts, and if the laborer shall quit service of the employer before the expiration of his term of service,without good cause,he shall forfeit his wages for that wages for that year up to the time of quitting.”

After the salves got freedom ,during the reconstruction they came across  onslaught of obstacles and injustices .First of all ,the Black Codes were laws that had a major purpose to restrict the Black people’s freedom and demand them to work on low wages. This quote present  one of the strict limitations on freed slaves .Mississippi’s law demands from blacks to have written evidence of employment for the coming year each January;moreover when they decided to give up  before the end of the contract, they could be forced to lose earlier wages and be  arrested.The laws also put a special tax on blacks between ages 18 and 60. If they  did not pay it ,they  could be arrested for vagrancy.I have to point out that The Mississippi Black Codes provided for black people rights such as : sue and be sue,obtain personal property,legally married.



Jourdon Anderson, Letter to My Old Master (1865)

“I would rather stay here and starve and die if it come to that than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters.” –Jourdon Anderson

After the Civil War masters had to accustom their life to the new political and social equality. Jourdon Anderson’s old master was foriegn to having to do his own work. He seeks his old slave, Jourdon, for his service. Col. P.H. Anderso promised a better life with better benefits and a safer environment. Unlike before where Jourdon almost was shot.

Society altered in a way whites were not prepared for. Even though blacks had limited freedom, they were people and not a possession. Jourdon demanded a formal payday, an education for his children, and pay for the services him and wife had provided in the past. Anderson had to accommodate his needs to his former slaves in order to have him come back and work for him.