The Civil War began in 1861 and lasted till 1865.This was known as the greatest war in American history where 3 million people fought and around 600,000 lost their lives.To this day this was the only war fought on American soil by Americans and caused massive destruction to the South. When the war ended in 1865, the South was faced with the major task of reconstructing their war torn land.
The Reconstruction lasted from 1865 to 1877.A major concern during this period was the condition of the millions of free slaves (Freedmen).Most of the freedmen had no homes, were very poor, and had virtually no education.In order to try to help the freedmen, Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandon Lands, otherwise known as the Freedmen's Bureau.The bureau had issued food and supplies to newly freed slaves as well as it set up hospitals and schools throughout the south.Despite its achievements, the Freedmen's Bureau did not solve the serious economic problems that the African Americans had.Introducing a system of free labor economy was another of the bureau’s responsibilities. The bureau’s goal in this respect was to return the ex-slaves to plantation labor, which was still essential to the Southern economy, but to do so under conditions that would allow blacks to work their way up and out of the labor class.Wage labor became the dominant economic system in the South immediately following the Civil War.This system was also know as the labor contract system and also gave blacks the right to break their contracts and move to new plantations, beginning new contracts as desired.
African-Americans in the South had never enjoyed such freedom before, and it caused a great deal of agitation among white plantation owners.Their agitation was fueled by the South’s scarcity of labor and the initially high price of cotton.In response, many of them formed “Democratic Clubs.”These clubs were desig…