February 21, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours: Post Emancipation Proclamation Speech

The snow has severely affected the school schedule and now I have two tests and a big speech all on the same day! I have the worst stage fright. Please wish me luck. My speech is on  post Emancipation Proclamation America. Now, I know it interests me but I'm sure the whole class will be sitting there with their eyes glazed over. I will be covering the post-war economy and society, how the country adapted to the new status of the emancipated slaves and what the emancipated slaves themselves had to endure. I've included the photographs I will be using as visual aids during my speech.  I hope to help the class really see the horrid situations and how they affected living, breathing people, not storybook people who lived hundreds of years ago. I think photographs and anecdotes really help with this.
  There was a lot of concern about arming African Americans during the war. Racism existed in both the North and the South. Many thought that African Americans would be inept at fighting but most proved to be very good soldiers (Library of Congress.)

This etching was drawn by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly Newspaper in 1865. There was a big debate after the war about whether or not African Americans would be able to vote. Many states enabled Black Codes which prevented African Americans from voting, even the soldiers who fought for the North.


Due to the large amount of newly freed slaves and Irish immigrants  flooding into the U.S., many African Americans had to settle for bleak jobs that no one wanted. This photograph shows men disinterring bodies at Cold Harbor for reburial in cemeteries. There were so many poor Irish Americans and African Americans without jobs that Oxford history professor, Edward A. Freeman stated that "the best remedy for whatever is amiss in America would be if every Irishman should kill a negro and be hanged for it.” Photo courteous of the Library of Congress.

This advertisement is important because it shows the mixed reviews about the Freedman's Bureau. It also shows how racism existed in the North as well as in the south. This advertisement is from the state of Pennsylvania. The Freedman's Bureau was supposed to help African Americans ease into free life and help them with government assisted funds and job opportunities. Many African Americans did not benefit from the bureau.
Cruel, racist images such as this one were common from the 1870s all the way up to the 1960s! The alligator with an African American baby was a common theme based on rumors that white men in Louisiana and Florida were kidnapping African American babies and using them as alligator bait. More images with this theme can be seen here. It is a grisly thought and I can find no proof of this actually occurring. It's sickening nonetheless that people would make candies using something so vile as a theme. The photo above was taken at the traveling museum "Lest We Forget."   

I hope I can remember all of this for my speech and hopefully teach my class something new. It's a very heavy topic for 9 am.  


  1. Best wishes, I know you will do well. By the way, are you coming to knitting on Saturday? I have something for you.

  2. Yes, we haven't had it in so long. You changed your picture, it looks really nice. :D


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