The Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws Essay Example


 After the American Civil War, the thirteenth amendment's ratification marked the age of enlightenment and change for social standards in American culture. The thirteenth amendment declared the abolishment of slavery and set free African Americans throughout the country, or so they thought. The Republican political party was the figurehead for creating the thirteenth amendment led by Abraham Lincoln, who unfortunately did not see its ratification because of his assassination on April 14th, 1865. Post-civil-war Republicans prioritized the abolishment of slavery and to ensure equal rights for slaves. However, the Democratic party and the previously confederate states opposed this notion. The opposition of the amendment stemmed from their agricultural economic structure was primarily based on slaves as cheap-labor and for their personal beliefs that white men are the superior race. Despite the opposition, the thirteenth amendment achieved its ratification for all states on December 6th, 1865. Although the Thirteenth Amendment was in place, African Americans still experienced immense discrimination from the South through the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws.

In the years 1865 and 1866, a series of laws called the Black Codes were passed in southern states to restrict African Americans' freedoms within the region. The Black Codes' main goal was to ensure the maintenance of white supremacy and the economic gain of cheap labor from Blacks without actually calling it slavery. The Black Codes varied from state to state in their severity and content. The Black Codes required the formerly enslaved people to sign contracts committing them to a single employer, unlike in a free market economy. Black people were forced to work with unlivable wages, and because they could not change their employer caused much debt and created a never-ending cycle. Those who attempted to free themselves from the contracts or refused to sign them were imprisoned for vagrancy and were then forced to work for no wages; therefore, bringing them back into a position of slavery. To stop the Black Codes, Congress enacted the South under military rule to reconstruct the South and pass legislation such as the 14th amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866. 

The military rule on the Southern states of America ended in 1877 after Rutherford B. Hayes' election for president. Shortly after the election, a series of discriminatory laws against African Americans emerged called the Jim Crow Laws. The Jim Crow Laws enacted racial segregation for all public facilities. Similar to the Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws were intended to maintain white superiority. Not only did the Jim Crow Laws last until the 1960s, but they were also declared to not be an infringement on the Fourteenth Amendment because they were separate but equal in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. It wasn't until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that the Jim Crow Laws had ended. 

The Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws are both very similar and share a few differences. One of the main goals of both the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws was to maintain white superiority. However, Black Codes were also directed towards whites' economic gain, while the Jim Crow Laws focused more on the societal structure between different races. Another difference between the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws is the length of time each of them lasted before banning. The Black Codes lasted from 1865 to 1866 when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 was passed. The Jim Crow Laws lasted from 1877 to 1964, about a century later, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Both of these events were extremely significant to the culture of America today. 

I chose these two topics because of the significance both the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws had on thousands of African Americans and the amount of time it took for the laws to end finally. Because of the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws, not only the culture but also America's economy was forever changed.

 

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