School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic B. Emergence, Expansion and Changes in Nations and Empires

Indicator 5. Analyze the political, economic, and social goals of Reconstruction

Objective c. Identify the legal and illegal actions used to deny African-Americans civil rights


Despite the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and other legislation, white Southerners continued to deny African-Americans civil rights throughout the Reconstruction era and into the first half of the twentieth century. They used a variety of legal and illegal means to do so.

Immediately after the war ended, Southern legislatures passed black codes. Although on paper these black codes extended to freed slaves some new rights, such as the rights to marry, sue, and hold property, their real purpose was to hold African Americans in a condition as close to slavery as possible. Patterned after old slave codes and laws restricting the activities of free blacks before the war, these black codes often set curfews for African Americans, dictated the terms under which African Americans could work, limited the types of property blacks could own, and stipulated that vagrant African Americans could be arrested and hired out to landowners. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which reinforced the provisions of the Civil Rights Act, overturned many of the elements of the black codes, but severe discrimination persisted.

White Southerners also used more informal means to prevent blacks from voting or to frighten them away from voting Republican. Secret societies, most notably the Ku Klux Klan, used terror and violence to dissuade African Americans from voting. They burned African American homes and churches and whipped and murdered blacks. White landowners threatened to evict black tenant farmers who voted, and employers threatened termination. Federal laws passed in 1870 and 1871 helped to weaken the KKK considerably, but violence continued. Amazingly, many blacks continued to vote and participate in politics despite white efforts to stop them.

Resources for Objective 5.B.5.c:
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