The constitutional amendments passed during Reconstruction vastly expanded former slaves’ rights and opportunities. At the same time, the Black Codes passed in most Southern towns, cities, and states curtailed those rights and opportunities. The tension between African Americans’ federal and local rights raises questions about the impact of Reconstruction on the freedom of former slaves. In this structured academic controversy, students examine constitutional amendments, a Black Code, a personal account of a former slave, and other documents to answer the question: “Were African Americans free during Reconstruction?"
[Lesson Plan updated on 9/23/14.]
Image: Political cartoon lampooning Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction created by Thomas Nast in 1866. From HarpWeek.