The Reconstruction era also known as the “Unfinished Revolution” had many major changes in history such as the creation of the 14th and 15th amendments and the black codes. In reading Joshua Brown “Reconstructing Representation, 1866-1877” it made me realize that it wasn’t as easy as I imagined it. Although many former slaves or immigrants were able to find jobs due to the new laws being placed, it wasn’t enough for them to support their families. There was an economic depression in 1873 which led to many businesses hiring immigrants or former slaves because it was cheapest option for them. Leslie Illustrate Newspaper photo gives a great description on how families didn’t have enough money to feed the rest of their children and had to share their last piece of loaf wondering “where the next supply of food may come from”(Brown 133). Specifically it was demonstrated that the women did most of the work while the man just “sits idly by his cabin-door carousing with his boon companions”(Brown 132). There was also a “bitter Long Strike during the winter of 1874-75” where many miners protested to recieve a higher pay. During this Franklin Gowen the president of the Reading Railroad tried to “gain total control of eastern Pennsylvania coal mining by destroying the miners’ union”(Brown132). A lot of the people started to become chaotic because there was a lack of representation for the poor community. Even in today’s society there is a lack of representation for those who live in poverty. Although many changes have accrued throughout the years the most important issues we still continue to have is poverty and labor. It was interesting for me to see and learn about the negative side of the reconstructive era because what normally comes to my head when I think about reconstructive is how society improved due to new technology and expansion which eventually created more jobs for people. Now I see that it isn’t always the case and that every change has their pros and cons.
In Nikole Hannah Jones 1619 essay, “America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black People Made It One” Jones highlights the idea that America wouldn’t be as advanced if it wasn’t for slavery. There were “12.5 million Africans who would be kidnapped from their homes” to go through the middle passage which led to “almost two million” people passing away due to inhumane conditions. African slaves were just seen as property to the white slave owners to use however they wanted and to expand their own business. In addition, slaves couldn’t be legally married to each other but slave owners had the ability to “rape or murder their property without legal consequence” and when the slaved women fell pregnant it was a good sign because that means that slave owners would get more workers for his business. If the child was born half white and half black it would become a slave because the child wasn’t purely white. Kinship between a mother and her children was not allowed because they held no right over their children. The slave owners would decide what to do them wether that being them making the children work or were put “behind storefronts that advertised Negroes For Sale”. Through time slaves were the ones who “lugged the heavy wooden tracks of the railroads that crisscrossed the South and that helped take the cotton they picked to the Northern textile mills, fueling the Industrial Revolution”. If it weren’t for the slaves labor America wouldn’t have been able to expand in the market. What stood out to me was the irony in “all men are created equal” but yet white men felt that they were superior to black people. Even if they weren’t born to be a slave if a black person family had a history of being in slavery, that person would be considered as inferior to a white person.