Freed Slaves and Land Ownership
Freed slaves and land ownership term papers will examine the actions that were taken by free blacks once the war had ended and discuss the issue of land ownership for these former slaves. The research paper discussion will demonstrate that although the Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in the U.S., many southerners tried to prevent the former slaves from gaining their independence. For this reason, it became vital for the former slaves to own land in order to gain economic freedom and independence. Still, many freed slaves continued to work on white plantations for wages, while others were able to purchase land and gain a true sense of independence.
More than four million slaves had been freed after the Civil War, and for many, land ownership was a critical aspect of their freedom. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens proposed giving each "forty acres and a mule," to ensure their independence and survival. According to some, there was evidence that the slaves may have to fight for their freedom again if they were not given land. Stevens suggested that the only solution was to "make them independent of their old masters, so they may not be compelled to work for them on unfair terms," which, as noted above, was already taking place. However, Stevens was in the minority, and even the Freedmen's Bureau compelled former slaves to work for wages on plantations owned by white southerners.
The freed slaves struggled for independence after the war. With assistance from the Stevens and others in the Reconstruction movement, they became educated, held political office, and by 1879 owned ten percent land. Despite many obstacles, some blacks gained a greater sense of freedom and independence. Unfortunately, many also remained dependent upon white plantation owners after the Civil War.