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History of Negro Citizenship
           HISTORY OF NEGRO CITIZENSHIP           699

and ambition, had wrecked the governments of their
own States, and, in the halls of legislation and on the
field of battle had sought to disrupt the union and es-
tablish a government upon the corner stone of human
slavery, were again in control of the entire political
power of the South, with no other restraint upon them
than that of the Emancipation Proclamation and a lit-
tle later, the 13th amendment. The only thing now
wanting to the completion of the process of reconstruc-
tion was the admission of Southern Senators and repre-
sentatives to Congress.
  Now, as before the war, the great bone of contention
was the Negro.  The treatment they accorded him was
the real test by which the South was to be judged. He
was now free. His chains had been melted in the fiery
furnace of war. The body of slavery had been shot to
death on the battlefields of four long years of war, and
its disembodied spirit had gone before the judgment
seat of the Righteous Judge of all the earth, in com-
pany with those who lost their lives in its defense. But
the Negro, being free, and yet not a citizen, was a polit
ical anomaly. By the irony of fate, the settlement of
his status under the new order of things was left to
those who had, with most heroic valor, struggled to in-
sure his perpetual enslavement.
  The question to which the Southern legislators, many
of whom were still in the uniform of the Confederacy,
addressed themselves without delay, and with strenuous
industry, was the determination of the place which the
freedmen should occupy in their social and political sys-
tem. They could not make him a slave again; would
they make him a citizen ? Or would they do their best
to make his liberty a mockery and a curse by unjust
and vexatious laws, and by reducing him to a state of
practical serfdom or peonage ? The Negro was poor;
would the South insure him the right to his own earn-
ings, open a fair market for his labor, and give him an
opportunity to acquire real estate and other property


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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 15, Num. 3

History of Negro Citizenship


Volume:  15
Issue Number:  03
Page Number:  689
Date:  01/1899


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